With a great whooshing sound

Retirement savings fall into sinkhole. There are so many reasons not to live in Florida, but this is certainly one of them – the entire state’s built on air.

sinkhole

 

And if you needed another reason to avoid the sunshine state, try this:

Record Mako caught from Florida beach

sharky

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Oh, let’s have a good spat about this

Unidentified chauffeur picks up GAR members for appearance at Federal Court House, Bridgeport

Unidentified government agent picks up GAR members for appearance at Federal Court House, Bridgeport

In a post below I mentioned that the Greenwich Association of Realtors is trying to shut down information on home sales. Because that post also went on to include a discussion of the merits of 39 Patterson Avenue, I thought it’d be fun to move the GAR battle to a separate page. So here’s what I originally wrote:

The Greenwich Multiple Listing service is cutting off access to sold listings as soon as they close. That must seem like a good idea to the monopolists running the Greenwich Association of Realtors because now only members like myself will have access to this information, but it strikes me as a losing, and harmful battle. The future is transparency;  in fact, until our new system was installed this past February, the future had arrived.

Diane Dutcher, GAR spokesman/apologist replied:

Once again Chris.. the board does not have a conspiracy going on. close prices are a matter of public record and , anyone that is really interested can find out the price of a closing. I don’t think we ever left on the closed homes on our system. For one thing, where do you stop? how much do you want to clog up the data base. If your client wants the close price you can set up an auto email for them to get that information when it happens. If you have questions, as I’ve said before, call me or the board or Flex. We are doing the best we can for the 1000 agents that are members and checking the facts before complaining to the public would be helpful. Diane Dutcher
Coldwell Banker

Our very own Francis X. Fudrucker then responded to Ms. Dutcher:

Diane;

Closed listings, along with the full listing sheets and (most) photos were available forever when we were grw.mlxchange.com. They are not available now. Are you saying that this is because of the amount of storage required? We seem to have lost storage since we lno longer store closeds since 1996 when we switched to Flex. In fact, in order to get functionality on Flex, we in our office here have had to pay Flex a premium just to get what we got from the other website. These are the facts as I see them, and I believe Chris is right that the less data we give to our clients, the harder it will be to earn their trust. I hope you aren’t saying that the clients can go on Zillow, so we should just let them do that. The Board does an exceptionally difficult job, but you can’t deny that the lack of the old listings inhibits transparency, and on this score Chirs is correct

Frank Farricker Lockwood and Mead Real Estate

I updated the original post:

In the comments below, Diane Dutcher, speaking for the GAR, defends its decision to hide information from the unwashed public. Francis Fudrucker answers her well, but here’s the nub of the GAR position, according to Dutcher:

Once again Chris.. the board does not have a conspiracy going on. close prices are a matter of public record and , anyone that is really interested can find out the price of a closing.

Diane seems astonished to think that anyone looking to buy or sell real estate would be curious to know market prices, and suggests that for those few freaks, those really interested, there’s always the town clerk’s office, where they can pore over the records one by one. Isn’t it so much easier for the great unwashed just to rely on and trust their local Realtor™, who has the expertise to advise you on value and is far better than you are at interrupting and understanding data? I thought so.

No wonder people despise real estate agents.

And that’s where we stand, for now.

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No mystery on this price cut

 

421 Field Point Rd

421 Field Point Rd

421 Field Point Road, on the Belle Haven peninsula but not in it, has cut its price again: $6 million and its yours. This property started out at $10.995 million in 2007 and has been twisting slowly in the wind ever since. It was once a lovely house, but its time has passed and I think the owners have finally caught on to that, because the listing now points out that, with 2.5 acres in the R-20 zone, it will yield “2-3 building lots”. $3 million a lot doesn’t seem grossly excessive, so perhaps this time it will sell.

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And here’s another interesting view of Riverside values, from the other side

 

26 Glen Avon Drive

26 Glen Avon Drive

26 Glen Avon Drive, off Club Road, has taken another price cut and is now asking “just” $4.495 million. It sold for $5.495 million in 2007, then $4.775 in 2009, bottom of the market, yet still can’t sell today. I’ve liked this house since it was built in 1995 (or so), and while Glen Avon Drive floods during big storms, so far as I know the house itself sits high and dry, so I don’t get it.

Likewise, 10 Newton Street (really just a spur off Glen Avon, on the harbor) has cut its price from $2.795 million to $2.695. It sold, pre-Sandy, for $2.590 in 2007. The waterfront portion of the lot is in the VE flood zone, but not the house, but again, it seems likely that flood considerations are giving buyers pause.

10 Newton

10 Newton

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Land sale offers interesting view of Riverside values

48 Winthrop Drive

48 Winthrop Drive

48 Winthrop Drive has sold for $2.025 million, a bit above the $1.975 it sought before expiring unsold last fall. Back in 2000, it sold for $1.262, as a place to live in, and in 2004, unchanged, it sold again, this time for $1.885. Ten years later, it’s more valuable as a building lot.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 3.53.03 PM

 

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Fighting the battle against transparency

39 Patterson Avenue - to be demolished

39 Patterson Avenue – to be demolished

39 Patterson Avenue, which I mentioned last week as having sold (price was finally reported today as $3.695 million) is pretty much locked away from the public – the Greenwich Multiple Listing service is cutting off access to sold listings as soon as they close. That must seem like a good idea to the monopolists running the Greenwich Association of Realtors because now only members like myself will have access to this information, but it strikes me as a losing, and harmful battle. The future is transparency  in fact, until our new system was installed this past February, the future had arrived.

That said, I’m amazed that someone would pay this much for an 0.8 acre lot on a busy street like Patterson. The most recent land sale I was involved in, 0.63 acre on Martin Dale, around the corner and on a quieter street, closed in September, 2012 for $2.225 million. I’ve seen no indication that land prices in this area have almost doubled since then. Or no evidence, at least, until this sale, and I wouldn’t use its price to value your own land because it has to be, I think, a unique set of circumstances.

UPDATE: In the comments below, Diane Dutcher, speaking for the GAR, defends its decision to hide information from the unwashed public. Francis Fudrucker answers her well, but here’s the nub of the GAR position, according to Dutcher:

Once again Chris.. the board does not have a conspiracy going on. close prices are a matter of public record and , anyone that is really interested can find out the price of a closing.

Diane seems astonished to think that anyone looking to buy or sell real estate would be curious to know market prices, and suggests that for those few freaks, those really interested, there’s always the town clerk’s office, where they can pore over the records one by one. Isn’t it so much easier for the great unwashed just to rely on and trust their local Realtor™, who has the expertise to advise you on value and is far better than you are at interrupting and understanding data? I thought so.

No wonder people despise real estate agents.

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Nothing’s fishy, ’cause there are no fish left

RioGrandeSilveryMinnowRobersonWestern drought and the Endangered Species Act collide, and not just in California.

As water managers in the Southwest parcel out the scarce commodity to cities and farmers in a prolonged drought, environmentalists are threatening to sue them for not leaving enough for a tiny fish called the Rio Grande silvery minnow.

WildEarth Guardians maintains that the minnow’s numbers are dramatically shrinking because water users in Colorado and New Mexico are siphoning off too much water before it reaches the fish’s main remaining habitat on the Rio Grande.

Farmers upstream say they don’t have a drop to spare, pointing to their idled fields. They fear their crops will suffer even more if water curbs are put in place to protect the fish.

The minnow dispute is one of many challenges federal and state officials face as they try to balance the legal rights of critters protected under the Endangered Species Act with the realities of the drought.

In February, WildEarth Guardians notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation it planned to sue them for failing to prevent damage to the silvery minnow’s habitat. The group also notified the Colorado Department of Natural Resources the previous month, saying its water distribution was harming the minnows.

The Colorado natural-resources department and the two federal agencies declined to comment. Mike Hamman, a Bureau of Reclamation manager in Albuquerque, said his office has taken steps to protect the fish, including leasing water to increase downstream flows, but can only do so much due to the dry conditions. “We did everything we possibly could for the benefit of the species under the resource constraints,” he said.

Still, in the last three years there hasn’t been sufficient water to trigger mass spawning. In October, service biologists found only three silvery minnows in a 120-mile stretch, down from thousands in previous years.

Three minnows in 120 miles? Maybe it’s time to declare the war over and resume feeding humans.

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