May 30, 2011 -- "Fallingwater," "Mar-a-Lago," "Graceland": Any home grand enough to have a name, you have to figure, is going to be pricey; and "Point of View" in Greenwich, Conn., doesn't disappoint: the 6-bedroom, 20,000-square-foot mansion overlooking Long Island Sound has an atrium, a library, a gallery and an indoor pool that, with the touch of a button, converts into a ballroom.
The 175-foot suspension bridge connecting the estate to its boat dock was designed by John Roebling & Sons--makers of the Brooklyn Bridge. The $42.5 million manse seemingly has everything.
Except a buyer.
Like some 50 other homes priced above $10 million in this tony haven for Wall Street hedge fund managers, it sits forlornly awaiting a buyer, like a wallflower waiting for a dance. How long might it have to languish? In February, a 10,000-square-foot pile finally sold (at a discount of close to 30 percent) after having languished on the market 630 days.
Ordinary shacks -- homes priced at $4 million to $5 million -- have practically been flying off the shelf by comparison. Between January 1 and the end of April, says Pruner, six sold, reducing the inventory of homes in this range to a little over 13 months. The inventory of $10 million homes during the same period was over six years.
In May things improved a bit: A property listed at $10.75 million sold for $9.1 million after 294 days on the market. Another went for $11 million in a private sale. A third is under contract, with an offer price of $14.75 million. The result: Supply has dropped from six years to four. Says Pruner with masterful understatement, "It's still a good time to be a buyer."
Why aren't mansions moving? Agents blame several factors, starting with Wall Street's rewarding its star players with bonuses that contain a smaller percentage of cash. The $10 million-and-up market has traditionally been a cash market, Pruner says. Sellers of these homes tend to be people who can afford to wait. Further, they poured money and personality into creating unique residences, from which they are reluctant to part.
Pruner thinks he's detected another reason. "There's been a lifestyle and attitude change," he says. "The desire for 'big-living' is gone. People are buying houses that fit the size of their family, that they're comfortable in. They're not buying to show off anymore; they're not buying houses as investments."
Where's Leona Helmsley when you really need her?