It’s been more than 500 days since Stanley Cheslock put his 26,000-square-foot Greenwich, Connecticut, “dream home” on the market for $17.95 million.
The house and its surrounding estate — custom built by Cheslock in 2003, with a movie theater and 3,700-bottle wine cellar — is waiting for a buyer who sees the current asking price, $15.95 million, as a bargain.
“It’s a steal,” said Cheslock, a co-founder of an investment firm, who has knocked almost 50 percent off the price he was asking when he first tried to sell the property five years ago. “It’s way underpriced.”
Homes priced at $10 million and above are accumulating on the market in Greenwich, a town about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Manhattan that’s known as the U.S. hedge fund capital. They’re moving so slowly that it would take more than four years to sell them all, the biggest backlog since at least 2004, according to Mark Pruner, an agent with Prudential Connecticut Realty. Wall Street’s greater emphasis on deferred compensation, in which a portion of an annual bonus will be paid in the future, has stifled demand, he said.
“Our market moves very closely with the financial markets,” Pruner, based in Greenwich, said in an interview. “Deferred compensation has totally hammered the over-$10 million market because people just aren’t getting large amounts of cash, and that market has traditionally been a cash market.”
Fifty-two houses in that price range were listed for sale as of May 19, according to Pruner. Four have sold this year and two are in contract. At that pace, it would take 52 months to sell the inventory, he said. If that backlog remains through the end of the year, it would be the biggest in his data going back to 2004.
“Previously, if you got a $10 million bonus, buying a $5 million house wasn’t that big a deal” said Pruner, who estimates that about half of all homebuyers in Greenwich work in the financial industry.
“If you get $20 million — $3 million in cash and 17 in deferred compensation — are you going to borrow another $2 million in cash to buy a house? I don’t think so,” he said.