718 North Street
This is a nice house, in need of renovation, perhaps, that was bought for $3.583 million in 2001, relisted for $4.350 in ’04 and slowly whittled down to $3.2 before being yanked today and put back on at $3.3 million. Okay by me, what the hell – nothing else seems to be working.
This optimist on Doubling Road paid $5.155 in April 2008 and has got it back on for $5.2. Nice house, if you like that front-loader-garage sort of look – I don’t, but that’s just my taste. I’m thinking that the market has declined since last year but again, no one says you can’t try. Perhaps the owner drove a shrewd bargain back last year.
Finally, another property that had dropped below half its original asking price suddenly jumped $4 million today. Why? Perhaps the owner has come into cash and can now afford to wait for a good price. Or, possibly, he’s setting up a short sale and is receiving too much traffic to convince a bank that he’s cooked. If the latter is the case, and if it works, look for massive price increases to appear all over town. Wouldn’t that be amusing?
I have a good selection of clients spread through the bulk of the Greenwich price ranges ($1 – $4.5 million) and I’ve grown as frustrated as they are by the lack of what we perceive to be reasonable prices. For instance, there are houses perfect for my $1, or perhaps $1.2 clients, but they’re all priced at $1.695 and above. Their owners may think that’s an appropriate price but comparing them to houses that have sold for $1.3, for instance, these are clearly worth just around a million. But we won’t bid.
It’s the same situation all the way up the price scale. $4.5 houses still asking $5.9, $2.5 asking $3.75 and on and on. People like Mad Monkey and my brother Gideon are positive that it’s the buyers who are wrong but I disagree. More important, the buyers are the ones with the checkbooks and theydisagree. It’s all reminiscent of the Antares fiasco; many of us saw it coming but they kept staying alive, year after year, proving us wrong, until we were right.
No one’s going to steal theirhouse! Just heard of yet another story of seller idiocy where a seller who priced his house at almost $4 million a year ago and dropped it to $2.8 with great reluctance, rejected and refused to counter an offer of $2.5. Now just consider: the assessed value is $1.7 million, the house needs at least a milion dollars in renovations because it seems not to have been touched in the 120 years since it was built and the pool of buyers willing to do that kind of renovation is increasingly shallow. So after a year and a half, one finally shows up and you turn up your nose? The only encouraging thing about this tale is that it is common, and sellers daunted by the huge inventory presently afflicting our market can find some solace in knowing that much of it isn’t really for sale.
Pretty quiet days in real estate, for the most part. I refuse to get excited about the sale of 480 North Street for $4.750 million, $250,000 more than it was purchased for last year because I don’t believe its reported price, even if a fine firm like Coldwell Banker says so. It is possible that this house is the only exception in Greenwich that actually increased in value this year but I’m from Missouri.
More typical is the new listing right up the road, 510 North. Listed by David Ogilvy for $11.5 million in 2002 (yes, we had wacky prices even then), it languished until 2004 when Sally Malone got hold of the listing, cut the price to $9.450 and finally, in 2005, sold it for $6.550. Today it’s back, asking $5.995. The seller obviously made a poor choice in brokers – if he wanted to make money on this deal, he should have chosen the miracle workers at Coldwell Banker.
Another new listing that won’t set the landscape on fire, now, is some new construction at 29 Old Wagon Road, asking $1.895. I’m fairly certain that the best that street has achieved was $1.995 and that was for far more house at a far better time. But there’s hope – if Patriot Bank holds the construction note on this project, it may very well end up being reported at $3.2 million, and won’t that make the neighbors on Old Wagon happy!
There’s a new price reduction on a house today – I can’t reveal details without disclosing old negotiations, but I think it’s okay to say that a year ago, a client of mine offered 87% of what is now the new price. At the time, the offer was a much lower percentage of the ask: 64%, I believe, but the seller has now paid taxes and maintenance on an empty house for a year only to reach a price that was within easy negotiating reach of the buyer then. Of course, the buyer has moved on, and the sellers now have to deal with the next potential buyer, who will use the new price as a starting, not ending place. There’s a lesson here, somewhere.
Looking over the open house list I see little worth spending gasoline on. There’s 3 acres of land with a tear-down house on Lake Avenue, asking $5.6. I’m sure it’s nice land, but I’m also sure there is comparable land for $2 million less, so we’ll let this one sit for awhile. There’s a house way, way north that sold for $2.5 million in 2005, failed to sell at $2.795 two years later so has now been bumped up to $3.250. That might work, but not for my clients.
Then there’s 98 Glenwood Drive, in Belle Haven, which I do want to see. It’s right across from the club’s beach, which is either a plus or a minus or perhaps a little of both, but I’d like to view it at it’s new price of $12.5 million, rather than the ridiculous price of $16.8 million its first broker pegged it at in 2007. I’ve said this before, but homeowners should resist the impulse to label as “insulting” low bids, even if one of the most successful agent in town has set your price. If a mere schnook like me can walk into your house and figure out that it’s at least 25% over-priced, perhaps a buyer who has been seeing the competition has a better idea of your home’s value than your agent does. Perhaps.
UPDATE: contempt before investigation rarely pays off. The Lake Avenue land (471?) is really gorgeous. Three acres, on a lot deep enough to build back away from the road and make the traiffic of Lake pretty much a non-issue. Is $5.6 the right price? These days, probably not and I would certainly advise some hard bargaining but for someone looking for a close-to-town location (this land is just south of the Round Hill Road intersection), it’s a pretty special parcel. There is a house n it, by the way, and you don’t have to tear it down, but whatever this goes for, it’s going for its land value – the house is free, do with it what you want.
31 North Porchuck sold new for $7.850 million in July, 2007. Beautifully constructed on four acres of land, with pond, the new owners added a pool and other improvements and must have had, conservatively, $8 million into the place. It sold Friday for $6.250. Maybe if they’d staged an art show they’d have done better.