When the 50-acre estate with sweeping views of Cos Cob Harbor hit the market with a $190 million price tag Friday, its presence reverberated through the real estate world, taking the title of the nation’s most expensive listing.
“It’s a great property,” said Joseph Barbieri of Sotheby’s International, a real estate firm that had been in the running to represent the estate, which is being listed by David Ogilvy & Associates. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for someone who wants to own acreage. There’s no perfect property in Greenwich, but this is certainly significant.”
Walter Molony, a spokesman at the National Association of Realtors, said 1.8 percent of homes sold across the country in March commanded a final price over the $1 million mark. The association doesn’t even keep track of price clusters any higher than that because “they’re really just outliers,” he said.
But Greenwich real estate is far from a mirror of Anytown, USA.
According to Daisy Kong, a spokeswoman for the real estate website Trulia, eight of the 10 most expensive properties in Connecticut are nestled in Greenwich; the other two are in Old Saybrook and Cornwall.
Currently, 76 percent of the homes listed for sale in Greenwich are asking more than $1 million, and the vast majority are likely to sell over that threshold. According to Trulia, the average sale price of a Greenwich house these days is $1.1 million. Add in 4,000 feet of waterfront, a couple of islands and 12 bedrooms (two of which are oval-shaped), and the ticket price climbs pretty quickly — all the way to a record-shattering $190 million for the property on Indian Field Road, near Greenwich’s Bruce Park.
Before Victorian, French-renaissance mansion, which was built in 1898, made its presence known this week, Greenwich’s most expensive property on the market was actor/director Mel Gibson’s former home, Old Mill Farm. That estate, which boasts more than 15,000 square feet of living space and 75 acres, is listed at $39.5 million, and is represented by Barbieri. Barbieri also holds the title of selling the highest-priced waterfront home in Greenwich: A house on Field Point Road that sold in 2011 for $39.5 million.
But Greenwich’s most expensive sale on the books came in 2004, when an 80-acre mid-century horse farm at 25 Lower Cross Road went for $45 million. While there have been several other eight-figure sales over the years, the nine-digit mark hasn’t yet been hit, despite at least one attempt.
“Take the Helmsley property, which came up on the market for $125 million. That sold for $35 million,” Barbieri said.
The Helmsley estate, a 40-acre property on Round Hill Road, dubbed “Dunnellen Hall,” was once owned by hotel and real estate tycoons Harry and Leona Helmsley, and included an opulent, 28-room mansion. After more than two years on the market, it sold for less than one-third of its asking price in late 2010.
“It’s an honor to sell these kinds of high-priced properties, and the upper end of the market is very saleable, though it does go through cycles. But the one essential thing is the properties have to be reasonably priced. I don’t want to say competitively priced, because some of these properties have no comparable (properties), but they have to be intelligently priced,” Barbieri said.
Even in a town like Greenwich, where median household income is so high that the U.S. Census Bureau can’t quantify it in its typical ranges, listing a property for more than $100 million can be a risk. According to Daisy Kong, a spokeswoman for Trulia, the Greenwich estate joins only four other properties across the nation in that bracket, topping the previous heavyweight title holder, the penthouse at the Pierre Hotel, listed at $125 million and boasting a 360-degree view of Manhattan. Two of the other three nine-figure properties are also in New York, while the fourth is in Miami Beach, Fla.
“I wouldn’t want to be quoted as saying what I think it’s worth. But I think it’s safe to say it’s an ambitious price,” said Barbieri. “It will be interesting to see what happens with that. I’m not quite sure the value is there, but Greenwich is an interesting place.”