Daily Archives: July 13, 2007

Dog Days of Summer
With the Fourth falling on a Wednesday, not a heck of a lot went on last week by way of new listings or broker open houses. But I’m sure I wasn’t the only agent busy with clients looking at houses so if you’re a seller, don’t despair: there are plenty of interested buyers still out there and still in town.

Which reminds me
August is coming and will bring with it a great buyer’s opportunity. Everyone flees town (which is why I stay – it’s like Greenwich in the old days, quiet and uncrowded) and so if you hang around, you’ll find that there very few other buyers and agents prowling the very property you’re interested in. If you move quickly, before Labor Day, you can often grab a decent deal. But see the very next paragraph for the obligatory caveat.

You aren’t necessarily the only buyer
32 Meyer Place in Riverside priced in September at $1,995,000, eventually dropped to $1,795,000. But it recently sold for $1,807,500 in a bidding war. Two (or more) buyers showing up at the same time after a house has sat on the market for a long, long time is more common than many buyers think. It’s not a conspiracy, just a quirk of this business, so if you’re interested in a property and are told that someone else is, too, the listing agent (probably) isn’t lying. In short, if you want to make a bid, don’t assume that you have all the time in the world to do so.

Old Greenwich Sidewalk Sales this week
Not a big whoop for me but it affords the opportunity to comment on a simply awful traffic rule here down east: parking fines. The town permits you to park along those sidewalks for an hour, free. Signs say so. What those signs don’t mention is that the fine for over-staying your welcome is a whopping $55, far higher than the fine for staying too long in metered parking. If that high a fine is necessary to keep the streets clear for shoppers, okay, but where’s the deterrent value if it’s undisclosed? Parking in a handicapped space could cost you $75 and there’s a large notice informing you of that so most people don’t do it (I’m ignoring the moral issue here that you just shouldn’t take a space set aside for the lame). By not warning parkers how much it will cost to stay longer than an hour, the present setup serves only as a revenue gatherer and as a deterrent only to those who get stung. No, I didn’t just get a ticket, but I think the town’s being unfair.

More unfairness
I’m aware of a new house that, having been built exactly according to the plans submitted to and approved by the Building Department, was denied a certificate of occupancy because it’s roof was pitched too steeply, allowing possible use (gasp!) of its pull-down attic for storage. Why, that’s a violation of our floor area ratio rules! The builder had to weaken the rafters by cutting huge notches in each, then adding trusses to support the roof and then providing an engineer’s certificate attesting that the roof would collapse if the trusses came out. His before and will say it again but the purported purpose of our FAR rules is to preserve our streetscape and keep houses from appearing too large from the outside. This house remained exactly the same size after it was weakened – the only difference being that, with trusses added inside, the owner could no longer store things in his attic. I have used this column several times to ask the head of our RTM’s Land Use Committee for the rationale of this obsession with what people do inside their own homes and have received back a bit of angry outrage but no explanation. Maybe he should convene (another) public meeting: not to listen to our objections – that’s been tried, and we were ignored – but to explain why this rule exists. If, as I see it, there is no reason for it, it’s just policy, then perhaps the entire RTM will see the ridiculousness of the situation and tell the Land Use Committee to clean up their act.

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