Category Archives: Old Greenwich

The madness continues

Two sales that have me scratching my head.

78 Havemeyer Lane

78 Havemeyer Lane

78 Havemeyer Lane, bidding war – a bidding war! – asked $609,000, sold for $650,000. Was this the result of an online auction? Could the buyer possibly have actually visited the property and taken in the ambiance of Havemeyer Lane? The mind boggles.

6 Lake Drive So., Rvsd

6 Lake Drive So., Rvsd

In Riverside, naturally, another surprising sale, 6 Lake Drive South, pressed up against a cliff and across the street from Riverside train station, asked $2.495 an sold for $2.353 million. This is a tired old house of undistinguished pedigree on a half-acre. It couldn’t sell in 2007, or 2009, so it as rented out; never a prescription for improvement, and returned to the market just a short time ago when, of course, it sold. With a picture that was probably taken in February of 2007. Gosh.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich, Riverside

Accepted offer in Havemeyer

33 MacCarthur Drive: roof, chimney and driveway included!

33 MacCarthur Drive: roof, chimney and driveway included!

33 MacCarthur Drive, $1.1 million, gone in 7 days. The owner paid $905,000 for it in 2008 and clearly put some money in it, but not so much as to prevent her from making some money on this project (she’s a real estate agent, so commission costs will be reduced). I might quibble with the use of the term “understated elegance” for a home in Havemeyer – I prefer “elegant without being overly ostentatious” myself-and I’d point out that, at a million-bucks plus, people probably expect to find that the “master bedroom suit has a full bath”, but all that really counts is whether she priced this right, and she obviously did.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich, pricing

Open House report

Three suitable for comment, in my opinion.

20 West End Avenue

20 West End Avenue

Star of the day was undoubtedly 20 West End Avenue, $4.189 million. The drawback first: it’s on a long, shared driveway, and everybody hates those. That out of the way, the house is fantastic: open, beautifully finished, just livable and unstuffy. I didn’t hear a negative word about it from the dozen or so brokers who were there when I was, and in this nasty business, that’s unusual. Is this the right price? Who knows, but it feels about right.

340 Stanwich

340 Stanwich

340 Stanwich’s price I’m not so sure about. It’s asking $3.495 million which, on first walk-around, I figured was at least $1.2 too much, but that’s before I went outside. Inside, it has a nice, but cluttered layout that looks as though it would make for excellent entertaining space. The clutter can be removed of course (one man’s clutter, by the way, is someone

view from 340 Stanwich patio

view from 340 Stanwich patio

else’s prized possessions, I get it – but I’m looking at it from a buyer’s perspective, not a collector’s). There are bedrooms upstairs that feel like a ski lodge dormitory but that could also be changed.

It’s the outside that transforms this place – 3.5 acres, including a pool an a great lawn sweeping down to Frye “Lake” (I was told by father that any body of water you can see across is a pond “unless”, he added, “you’re a real estate agent”. I’m a real estate agent now, a life decision that would have my father spinning in his grave, if he had a grave, so I’ll go with “lake”).  But all that land poses a problem: it, and the pool, and the Frye Whateveryoucallit, are down a long, steep stairway built into a rock wall. Not a big problem at all for an active family, but the house itself will presumably a couple of old fogies who need its first-floor bedroom. So that’s a conundrum, but one I’m sure will be worked out by the market. Stay tuned.

40 Winthrop

40 Winthrop

40 Winthrop Drive in Riverside is priced at $3.395 million, a price that gave me pause when it came on this week and still has me a little unconvinced after seeing it; a little, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if it sold for this price. I think I’ll follow the lead of our president and Senator Markey and vote “present”.

Plus side: very nice inside, good layout, and a fantastic yard, in the back and on the (western) side. These days, finding an acre of yard in Riverside is just about impossible, and an acre on Winthrop, a beautiful, traffic-free street within easy walking distance of the schools and trains, is even rarer. If someone pays what I consider to be a premium for this location and this acreage, I wouldn’t be surprised.

I do think, however, that if you’re reaching for top dollar, it would be wise to spend a little bit up front to make a good first impression. This is a pretty plain looking house as is, and a rusty handrail on the front steps, an uneven, sagging stone walkway to the front door and a banister on the third floor that threatens to fall off in your hand raises questions, unjustified, surely, that maintenance wasn’t in the budget during this owner’s tenure. I am not saying that the house is in poor condition; to the contrary, it appears to be in great shape, overall, but as a general tip to homeowners thinking of selling, fix up the minor cosmetic problems that detract from a home’s appearance. You know what your grandmother told you about first immersions? It’s still true.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Mid Country, Neighborhoods, Old Greenwich, pricing

Sale, contract, price cut

No, no the same property, three different ones

9 Shore Acre

9 Shore Acre

9 Shore Acre Drive, Old Greenwich, asked $3.195, got $3,050,80 (there’s nothing as annoying to an agent then getting caught up in one of these end-stage nickel-and-dime negotiations when the reward for those last coins is so little. Important, no doubt, for the parties, but a 5% commission on eight eighty-bucks, divided four ways, is $1 each. And it may take three weeks to get to that dollar.

9 Paddock Drive

9 Paddock Drive

9 Paddock, up on the Merritt off of Lake, has a contract. Started at $2.695, dropped to $2.495, which is what it was purchased for in 2002. I liked this house very much. Paddock is a nice little dead-end street, this house itself was opened up and expanded and has a great yard, and the highway noise is not too noisy. Compared to what you’d get elsewhere in this price range, it’s a lot of house.

And, of course, convenient to transportation.

12 Shore Rd

12 Shore Rd

And 12 Shore Road, also in Old Greenwich, has suffered another price cut and is now priced at $2.675, q huge improvement over its first price when it was built in 2011, $3.495. I thought the house was great when I saw it back then, with direct frontage on Tomac Cove, but it didn’t strike me, or any buyer, as a $3.5 house. Now, it looks like a relative bargain.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Contracts, current market conditions, Mid Country, Neighborhoods, Old Greenwich, spec houses

Contract and a new listing

534 North Street

534 North Street

Just about my favorite house in town, 534 North Street, is finally under contract. This 1819 Federal is a treat to drive by and a reminder, however bitter-sweet, of what North Street once was. The price that did the job was $2.395 million (that’s the last asking price; presumably the actual selling price will be less). The owners tried to get $3.295 million last year but no one bit. Overshooting by a million bucks will do that to a house.




Fountain's selling tip of the day: If you want to charge $4.5 million for your house, don't use a photo taken in mid-March for a late August debut, and stain the freakin' deck.

Fountain’s selling tip of the day: If you want to charge $4.5 million for your house, don’t use a photo taken in mid-March for a late August debut, and stain the freakin’ deck.

Under new listings, 5 Grimes Road in Shorelands (Old Greenwich) is up, asking $4.495. This was built in 1991, so probably didn’t get hammered by Sandy but much of Shorelands did. Readers? Experience? Insights? $4.5 seems pretty steep to me, but we’ll see.

Comments Off on Contract and a new listing

Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Contracts, current market conditions, Inventory, Mid Country, Neighborhoods, Old Greenwich, pricing

Creek front sale reported

7 Ole's Creek

7 Ole’s Creek

7 Hendrie Drive, Ole’s Creek, $2.2 million. This was a nifty piece of property: 0.8 acres in the R-12 zone, high above any possible FEMA flood zone revision – not even a polar bear could climb this high – and of course, an incomparable view of Chateau de La Fontaine across the way. I’m surprised it didn’t sell for a premium.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Neighborhoods, Old Greenwich, Waterfront

Real estate news reported

Some sales, an accepted offer and a new listing.

55 Lockwood Ave

55 Lockwood Ave

55 Lockwood Avenue, Old Greenwich, asked $1.695 million, got $1.275.

49 Lockwood Lane

49 Lockwood Lane

49 Lockwood Lane, Riverside, asked $1.350 and found a buyer almost immediately at $1.291 (where’d that last thousand come from?)

5 Keofferam

5 Keofferam

5 Keofferam. OG, finally has an accepted offer. It’s been asking $3.310 million these days and I really can’t understand why it’s stayed on the market so long – 382 days. Great house, recently updated, wonderful road and location. People have been paying more for far less, which just shows something about the quirky nature of real estate.

40 Winthrop Drive

40 Winthrop Drive

And 40 Winthrop Drive, Riverside, a so-so house built in 1996 on what was the Berrizzi’s property, is new to the market and asking $3.495. I don’t see the value here (the listing makes no mention of improvements made since it was constructed 18 years ago) but Winthrop’s a popular street, so who knows?


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Contracts, current market conditions, Inventory, Neighborhoods, Old Greenwich, Riverside

The death of suburbs?

What will the Back Country smell like in 2019? Depends.

What will the Back Country smell like in 2019? Depends.

As boomers age, suburbs lose their appeal.

While much of this smacks of the usual liberal, “force people back into the cities where we want them to live”,  some of the author’s points do reflect what we’re witnessing here in Greenwich, as demand for the Back Country wanes and compact (or “congested”, your choice) neighborhoods like Riverside are increasingly popular.

And then there’s this whole set of demographic changes that we’re going through: an oversupply of large, single-family houses in conventional suburbia and an undersupply of what the next generation and aging baby boomers are going to want, which is more walkable communities.

What does “the end of the suburbs” mean for boomers who own homes there now?

It’s funny. The boomers even more than the Millennials are the big question mark. Everybody in the housing industry is dying to know where the boomers are going to live as they get older.

Many of them want to age in place, whether that’s because of the financial crisis or because they’ve built strong ties to their community. That’s all well and good until they ultimately vacate their home. With so many boomers, there’s not going to be as big a market of people interested in buying their houses.

In a blog post I wrote about how boomer home sellers can hook Millennial buyers, I quoted a housing analyst who warned that “the great senior sell-off” later this decade could cause the next housing crisis. Should suburban boomer homeowners be scared that the end of the suburbs is coming?

It depends on the kind of suburb they’re in. What people are looking for in single-family homes in the suburbs is changing, and if your house doesn’t meet the desires of future buyers, it might be a tougher sell.

Let’s talk about different types of suburbs. You draw a distinction between outer-ring suburbs and inner-ring suburbs. What’s the difference, and why does it matter?

Inner-ring suburbs tend to be a little bit older, with smaller lots that are closer together and where people walk more. Plus there’s some place to walk to.

But valuations in those types of communities are coming back up now. And many people think that’s where the Millennials are going to want to be, rather than outer-ring suburbs, because they’re closer to downtown, houses are a little smaller, you can walk around more, and it’s a little livelier.

So are you saying the further out someone lives in the suburbs, the more financial risk they’ll be taking when they want to sell?


Are suburban boomers who’ll want to sell their homes going have to accept bargain-basement prices due to a lack of buyers?

Look, the housing market’s coming back. But I think if you own a home in the suburbs, selling sooner rather than later is probably better. The prospects for selling to Millennials in the future aren’t good, unless you’re living in a place with a really, really good school district.

Won’t Millennials move to all types of suburbs once they have kids?

Everybody says wait till they have children; then they’ll do what their parents did and just go right back to suburbia. But there are going to be plenty of other options for them. And a lot of Millennials don’t like to drive — they’re not getting their drivers licenses as frequently as in the past.

What will the end of the suburbs mean for boomers who want to move for retirement?

It depends. If they want to go to a Sunbelt place, there are lots of bargains to be had there now.

But if not, what they’ll want is a community that offers some pedestrian activities and some sense of liveliness without a heavy reliance on a car.

That’s what you say Millennials want, too.

Right. And if you jumble those two groups up, that produces something that sociologists and urban planners say is really good.

One of the things about the suburbs people complain about is that they’re so homogenous — not racially (although they are), but in terms of age and life purpose. Everyone is in their 30s to 50s raising young children.

In the old days, what made a vibrant neighborhood was having young people and old people, rich people and poor people living together in different shapes and sizes of houses and from different walks of life. Maybe the walkable community of the future will combine the old and young.


Filed under Back Country, Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Cos Cob, Mid Country, Old Greenwich, Riverside

Elvis sighting in Shorelands?

Castle a la Diane

Castle a la Diane

Mobile homes on stilts replacing bungalows made obsolete by FEMA regs.

In the past few months, modular builders say they are seeing an uptick in demand that they hope will translate to long-term business, especially as new federal flood maps and insurance rates force more homeowners to elevate structures. Because many older beach bungalows won’t survive being raised, those owners may choose to replace them with new, easy-to-produce modular homes that are fabricated in factories and shipped in sections to the building site.

Two days after Sandy struck, John Westrum, who has built modular homes primarily in Pennsylvania suburbs, took a helicopter ride to survey the devastation along the Jersey Shore and had an idea: He would take his prefab houses and put them on stilts.

Westrum Development’s first elevated modular home is scheduled to open Saturday in Seaside Heights. The two-story, Cape Cod was assembled in 28 days after the local permits were secured and the land was cleared. Former telephone poles were used to lift the first floor about 10 feet above the ground.

Architects said the modular-construction industry’s improved quality control and ability to use materials in different ways have helped bring its buildings up to design standards in the city. “The day of modular housing is dawning in New York,” said Rick Bell, executive director of the American Institute of Architects New York.

As money trickles in from insurance companies and government, a handful of modular homes on stilts are popping up in some communities in New Jersey, Long Island and Staten Island. Many can be made to evoke beachside bungalows or modernist vacation homes. That has helped allay concerns about identical rows of new, cheap-looking homes.

“It looks beautiful,” said Anthony Rusciano, a local 51-year-old utility worker in Seaside Heights who is buying a three-bedroom modular home from Westrum for $179,000. “It went up so fast. I don’t have the time or patience to deal with any of this stuff anymore.

Modular single-family homes aren’t necessarily less expensive than traditional construction, but may save time because they can be built in the factory while owners are waiting for demolition and foundation work. Once the modules are built and transported to the city, it takes a day or two to bolt the pieces into place.

Michael Fehling, a 55-year-old Island Park resident, and his wife, decided to build a modular home seven feet in the air after docks smashed into their 90-year-old wooden house. Their new home took about a week to build in the factory and was delivered from Pennsylvania a month ago. They plan to move in at the end of August, after contractors finish with touches such as radiant heat and fireplaces. He doesn’t miss the old place.

“A house that’s almost 90 years old, it’s not going to have the insulation.It’s not going to be built as strong. The house was always cold. The house wasn’t level,” he said. “With the breeze going through the whole house, I don’t miss that.”


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich, Waterfront

Convenient to transportation


Ready for her new home

Ready for her new home

26 Buxton Lane, Riverside, sold for full asking price of $1.065 million.  Good place for truck spotting.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Neighborhoods, Old Greenwich

Old Greenwich woes?

I thought that 54 Highview Avenue was fairly priced back in August, 2007  when it was first listed at $1.695. The owners had paid $975 for it in 2001 and completely renovated it so that, while it remained an unprepossessing builder’s special on the outside inside it was a comfortable, well laid out house, all up to date.

But the market was beginning its decline then and it didn’t sell, even as its price dropped and dropped again until it finally reached $1.295 this November. Today it was reported as under contract but “sold direct” meaning that the owners found a friend or neighbor to buy it, presumably for less than its last asking price. So it’s selling for at best 76% of its first asking price and probably less. Considering the improvements put into it in the past years, I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost money on this deal.

I make fun of a lot of houses that sell for far less than their first asking price and point out how ridiculous that price was. That isn’t the case in this instance, so we’re seeing a real market decline, rather than just a overly-optimistic seller finally accepting reality.

1 Comment

Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, current market conditions, Old Greenwich, pricing

Here you go

5 Raymond Street, Old Greenwich

5 Raymond Street, Old Greenwich

This is a very nice house south of the Village, renovated not long ago. The current owners paid $1.625 for it in May, 2004 and listed it again this year for somewhere well above $2.0 million. They’ve taken a couple of price cuts since then and today they dropped it to $1.650. $25,000 more than 2004 prices may still be too high – who knows, these days? – but I call it a realistic price for a good house in a good location.

Comments Off on Here you go

Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Neighborhoods, Old Greenwich

How do you not sell Greenwich waterfront?

Well, pricing it too high is a good start.

55 Binney Lane

55 Binney Lane

55 Binney Lane in Old Greenwich has just been withdrawn from the market after testing the waters at $16.8 million and then $14.8 million. It’s an old house but it sits on an acre of direct waterfront with its own dock and beach. Someone would have bought it long ago if they hadn’t been scared off by the price. My guess? Had it been listed at $10.5, it would be long gone. Of course, the heirs may not have wanted to sell it for that price in which case, they can look forward to enjoying that beach next summer.

1 Comment

Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich, Waterfront

More on 33 Highview

So I stopped by the place today during the open house tour – nicely done, with decent hardware and trim, but like most houses on that street, not much of a yard, especially with half the rear yard devoted to driveway. I know that south of the Village is always desirable but I do wonder whether it’s desirable enough to induce someone to pay this much. That may prove a challenge.

Comments Off on More on 33 Highview

Filed under Old Greenwich, spec houses

Will renting save spec builders?

33-highviewThe history of 33 Highview in Old Greenwich offers an illustrative recapitulation of recent real estate history. Offered as a teardown in May, 2006 for $1.150 million, it  sold in 3 days for $1.175 million. The buyers built the house you see above and put that up for sale in May, 2008 for $3.550 million and eventually dropped it to $3.395. It’s still for sale but today it was also listed as a rental, asking $12,000 per month. Let’s do some math (CEA, please feel free to unleash your HP and correct me) : assuming they spent $1,000,000 building the place (I think that’s conservative), they have $2,175,000 into this place. If they borrowed 80% of that, annual interest at 6% would cost them $104,400 and annual rent would yield $144,000, leaving a comfortable cushion to pay real estate taxes ( $25,000, est.)  and allow them to hang on until a better market.

But if any of those assumptions are wrong: if they spent more than $1,000,000, if they can’t rent it for $12,000, if they borrowed more than 80% or paid more than 6% on the loaned money (and construction loans are probably much higher than that), then that cushion starts to get thinner.

I’m seeing a lot of spec houses trying this route – I wonder how many will negotiate it safely.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich, spec houses

First Light in Old Greenwich tonight

Horse-drawn carriage rides, stores open, lots of lights and friendly neighbors. It’s a good time. Begins after dark – 6ish?

(update) More information here.

The Raveis OG office just won the “Spirit of Old Greenwich” award from the Garden Club or the OG Chamber of Commerce or whoever passes these things out. I’d be more impressed if they didn’t give an award to every business in town -including, I suspect, the tanning center that’s been closed lo these many months – but heck, it’s something,I suppose. Sort of like my winning a participation award for coming in last at Riverside School’s field days.

Speaking of phony awards, I just learned from a client that he turned down a chance to win a “Connecticut Gold Coast Award” for best builder in town because he’d have had to pay $3,000 for the privilege. I was naive enough to believe that these things were passed out based on an actual poll of the magazine responsible for the award’s readers; he was naive enough to believe that everyone would know it was a sham and pay no attention to the thing. We were both wrong.

Comments Off on First Light in Old Greenwich tonight

Filed under Old Greenwich

Old Greenwich and Riverside spec houses

A commentator guessed that there were 10 spec houses for sale in Old Greenwich and suggested that their builders were in trouble. I won’t hazard a guess about the financial condition of the people behind these projects but there are in fact 10 spec houses for sale south of the Village (plus 3 north of the Post Road, but those don’t really count), priced from $2.295 to $5.795. That’s a pretty large number, even for good times. Right now, I’m inclined to correct the commentator on only one thing: he said this was “bad news’. While it certainly is bad news for the builders, I think it’s good news for buyers. There are bound to be some bargains to be wrenched out of this mess.

Riverside is in better shape. There are six new houses listed for sale but I don’t believe any have broken ground, so the builders may be sitting on land but they don’t have the expense of an actual construction project to carry. That should give them more staying power so if you like to negotiate, I’d head for Old Greenwich instead of Riverside. Of course, even Riverside builders would like to be employed; if you want a custom job, now’s the time to ask for one.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich, Riverside

Old Greenwich 2006 vs. 2008

7 Gisborne Place sold for $2.860 million in November 2006 (contract date: closing was January ’07). In April 2008 it came back on the market, unchanged, for $3.095 and today has been reduced to $2.750 million. Not a huge loss, yet, but it hasn’t sold yet, either.

Comments Off on Old Greenwich 2006 vs. 2008

Filed under current market conditions, Old Greenwich, pricing

Where are we now?

25 Innis Lane

25 Innis Lane

Innis Lane is a development off of Lockwood in Old Greenwich. Quiet dead end, slab-constructed builder homes of modest quality. This one sold for $765,000 in January 2002 and in September of this year it was again put up for sale, in the same condition, I believe, for $1.260 million – a 64% increase in six years. It didn’t sell so today it dropped to $1.125 million. I’ll be curious to see where this house finally sells, and where in relation to 2002 prices that selling price is.

1 Comment

Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich, pricing

Shore Road fails to break the $5 mil price barrier

329-shore-rdThe builders of this property paid $1.5 million for its 0.59 acre lot (with teardown) back in July of ’04. They built a very nice house on the land and put it up for sale in the summer of 2006 at $5.2 million. That wasn’t all that far-fetched a price in those days but it was, obviously, too high for Shore Road (I say obvious because it didn’t sell, not because I have some source of ultimate wisdom). It’s been on the market ever since, with a few spells off, and today it’s been marked down again, to $4.4 million. There was a time when an $800,000 price reduction would grab a buyer’s attention. Not now.

Comments Off on Shore Road fails to break the $5 mil price barrier

Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich