If you haven't read the New York Times article on Old Greenwich, you should (HERE), its worthy of a read. I give the article a solid B. I'm pretty critical when it comes to articles about Greenwich (including Cos Cob, Riverside, Old Greenwich and every other community), especially if they touch upon real estate.
Since I'm a bit dorky, I'll just outline my 2 main criticisms in bullet points:
1) "The housing market is just now emerging from a nearly two-year slump induced by Hurricane Sandy." - This is the biggest concern I have about this article and the first red flag that went up in my head. Anyone that has been working on real estate in Greenwich for more than the past 4 years, understands that Old Greenwich (macro level) never went into a "slump" from Sandy or even from the bubble bursting (relative to the rest of town). Parts of Old Greenwich are now hotter than they have ever been, while areas of back country Greenwich are nowhere near their peak (adjusted for inflation). Yes, Sandy affected many homes that were under the new FEMA flood zone and slowed down some waterfront interest, but it did not put Old Greenwich into a slump. Heck, it helped houses that were just outside of the flood zone. For example, I sold an Old Greenwich house (central, south of town, just outside flood zone) for $2.121m in May 2013 that my clients had bought for $1.743m in August 2010. They didn't do any work to said house. Yes, Hurricane Sandy caused all sorts of issues for waterfront and low lying houses in Old Greenwich, Riverside, Belle Haven, Byram, etc..., but no, it did not cause a "two-year slump."
2) North Mianus - Speaking about "slumps," the author really didn't explain the difference between southern Old Greenwich/Riverside and northern, affectionately referred to as North Mianus. This area has seen a huge uptick over the past couple years and is one of my all-time favorite stories in Greenwich. As all Old Greenwich and Riverside residents know, there is a big difference in real estate north and south of the Post Road and Interstate 95 border. It has always been desirable to be closer to the water and therefore more expensive. In addition, as we have seen over the past 15 or so years, it has been more desirable to live close to town and the train, so that has helped spur the southern real estate growth even more. Now one area of discussion that is commonly overlooked, is not only the location differences between the two areas (north and south of Post Road), but the history of how they were created and defined. North Mianus (northern Riverside and Old Greenwich for this discussion) was almost largely (for this discussion) built in the early 1950s after World War 2. Nimitz Place, Marshall Street, Hoover Road, you get the point. While southern Old Greenwich is much older and has a little more organic growth pattern. The 1950s brought lots of smaller cape and split level homes, which are not necessarily in vogue right now and can be very hard to convert to modern standards and demands.
This existing supply level of North Mianus (Northern Riverside and Old Greenwich) split level homes had created a bit of a ceiling in values, until the land value tipped the scales, which is why we started to see a serious pop in construction and sales starting 2 or so years ago. You see, for a long time houses in North Mianus had a hard time breaking the $1m price point. Its a fantastic place to live with great families and tons of houses/friends for kids to visit, though it was considered by some to be a bit dated as a whole. That was until the prices in lower Old Greenwich and Riverside came up so much. With the flood of buyers over the past 15 or so years looking for more of a community, close to water/town/train, we have seen a dramatic uptick in values in southern Riverside and Old Greenwich, pricing out many that started to move north to North Mianus. Eventually this pushed values and demand high enough that it made sense to tear down homes or blow out existing ones. Developers and buyers with sizable pocket books started realizing that this area of Greenwich is a fantastic place to invest in. It is still very close to downtown Old Greenwich, Binney Park, Old Greenwich and Riverside train stations and Tod's Point (Greenwich Point Park), while also providing a super family friendly tight nit environment. Kids everywhere. If you move there, you better buy lots of candy for Halloween.
Back to the original article and my critiques - I understand that the writer has a limited number of words to use (unlike us bloggers that can go on and on and on - god bless SEO) and needs to simplify things. I also understand that the author is focusing on much more than just real estate, while I have blinders on and spend 95% of my time thinking about what houses are worth what in Greenwich. I did end up giving him a B, which is much better than passing grade in my book and am always excited when any national newspapers give attention to any Greenwich neighborhood or community. Maybe they could come back and write about the fascinating history in North Mianus!
Scott Elwell - Partner Fieldstone Group of Sotheby 's International Realty Stevens, Toepke, Kencel & Elwell
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