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Spring home sales continue sluggishly under snow

Connecticut Post logo Connecticut Post 3/19/2019
a man wearing a suit and tie: Ken Edwards © Provided by Hearst Newspapers

Ken Edwards

The Ides of March (Idus Martii in late Latin) is upon us today, but the Ides of April (tax day April 15th) is looming ahead. On the Roman calendar March 15th was the deadline for settling debts. Luckily, we still have a month left to do that.

Last week’s mix of closings included four single-family houses, a condo, a co-op, a land and a mixed-use listing. An interesting week for sure. All told, sales went from $32 million to less than $12 million with two of the sales at or above the $2 million mark.

One of those sales, my sale of the week was a downtown home on East Elm Street that sold for double the price is was purchased at 17 years ago. It’s now a two-family that will likely be torn down to make room for another large home or condominium. It had been rented at an 8 percent gross return over the years but highest and best use decisions will be made to probably reverse that choice.

a large brick building with grass in front of a house: The home at 99 E. Elm Street is the ‘sale of the week.’ © Provided by Hearst Newspapers

The home at 99 E. Elm Street is the ‘sale of the week.’

My buy of the week selection is a mixed use commercial and multi-family combination of structures on Old Post Road #3 with two West Putnam Avenue addresses. They couldn’t attract buyers at over $1 million but at $850,000 buyers came and looked. At $625,000 the gavel dropped on a sale.

Buy of the week

My buy of the week selection, ostensibly on West Putnam Avenue across from the now deserted Chrysler Dodge City service center, but realistically on Old Post Road #3 sold for 57 percent of asking last week. It’s an interesting pair of structures, one addressed at 555 West Putnam and the other contiguous structure at 557.

This pair of side-adjoined structures was listed three times as a land, multi-family and commercial offering. The access to the property on Old Post Road #3 allowed a marine engine repair shop in the garage and four separate apartments between the two structures. The older stone structure on the right was built in 1900. The range of options for the new owner span renovation and rental, to tear down and reconstruction, to parking for the businesses across the street or the strip mall to the west.

I for one will be very interested to see what develops here. In any event, the original $1.1 million listing last May did not happen and the market has spoken as they say.

Sale of the week

My sale of the week selection is an example of knowing the market for your home. This 1907 downtown Greenwich multi-family home was purchased for $1 million in 2001 in only 33 days on market. The downtown market, as you probably know, has changed dramatically since then and listing it as a multi-family with two income-producing units doesn’t make financial sense any longer with a roughly 4 percent gross income.

The smart thing to do, as was done here, is to list it as a land listing with a viable asking price to open it up to developers who are looking for their next “kill” downtown. At $2 million, this 0.22-acre parcel is ripe for another large home that will surely replace it. I doubt highly that it will remain as a three-bedroom, two-bath and two-bedroom, two-bath, two-family much longer. Wait, do I hear a wrecking ball?

Getting your house ready to sell

Location, condition, price — in that order. Unless your house has wheels under it, a.k.a. a trailer park beauty, your location is what it is. Which community, which school district, how many lines on the road, and what’s your view are all significant factors. Perhaps most importantly what have similar houses on your road sold for within the last year? I know yours is the best, but recent prices do tend to set a ceiling on what you’ll get.

Now condition is something you can address. Most importantly what’s your curb appeal? Play the role of a buyer or, since you probably can’t be objective, ask an impartial person to do it, like a Realtor. Have them honestly critique your property — façade, lawn, shrubs, and everything else they see from the curb. Buyers will sometimes pull away in their cars without ever approaching the front door. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Price is tricky too. Your expectations are based on what you paid for your house, how much you’ve spent in renovating or enlarging it, and a rose-colored glasses appreciation of your home’s value. Buyers look at it far differently. They don’t care what you paid for it (but will ask their agent), or how much you overpaid to renovate or enlarge it. Simply stated, they view it as a product and you view it as a home. You need a reset. A licensed real estate appraiser will give you a good clue to value as will a comparative market analysis by your Realtor.

Also bear in mind the trends in real estate in our state and community. Mike Barbis, a developer and Realtor in Rowayton talks about the change he’s seen in young buyer couples from 10 or 15 years ago when “they both worked on Wall Street, they both made a lot of money, and they would come up here and buy an expensive house. Now, they work in tech or media ... they aren’t making that kind of Wall Street money. They’re buying an $800,000 house, they’re not buying a $1.8 million house.” That’s a challenge for us in Greenwich, too.

This Week’s Success Quote

“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.”

— Charles R. Swindoll

Ken Edwards is the principal broker for Edwards & Associates Real Estate and has lived in town since 1974. All opinions expressed are entirely his own and not those of this publisher. Comments and questions may be sent to K_W_Edwards@ Yahoo.com or call (203) 918-4444.

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