No, it’s not Pirate talk day, that’s an expression of remorse for moving Chuck and Nancy Standard from Druid Lane, where they’ve been since 1954, to Hearthstone, one street over. I heard from a Hearthstone resident that the guy building a new house on that street is not nearly as accommodating as Tom Brandenburger, who is building on Druid next to the Standards (where they remain). So if you want to see what a good builder does to take care of the neighbors of his building site, drive down Druid, not Hearthstone.
Watch out below!
Some new construction on North Street, originally priced at $9.5 million, has just been relisted at $7.2. That may still be too high – we’ll see – but it does reflect a refreshingly objective view of the market. This is not the time to attempt new highs. In the same vein, I saw a mediocre assemblage of new construction in the mid-country the other day: a Westchester builder, using a Westchester agency, asking what they obviously feel is an appropriate Greenwich price. Wrong, by at least $1.5 million, in my opinion. I happen to have just sold a house for this one’s asking price and I’ve got a pretty good feel for this particular slice of the market. There’s no way I could have sold this house for the price the builder wants, even before Bear Stearn’s collapse.
Finish what you start
I saw another house last week, asking a bunch of money for an uncompleted project. I’ve been through this myself, so my sympathies lies with the seller, who is attempting to recoup his expenditures but, generally speaking, either finish the job or resign yourself to losing most of what you’ve put in. This one’s probably going to sell for its land value, and not much more.
The calamity befalling Bear Stearns has hammered our market. A number of agents report that their house-hunting clients are now out of work and I know of at least one builder who isn’t even looking at potential projects until this all sorts itself out. I think we’ll all be just fine, eventually, but there’s a lot of nervousness out there, and buyers aren’t jumping out of the gate to get the house of their dreams. Still, what better time to strike a deal? Assuming you still have a job, of course.
Private school admission decisions are forthcoming and they usually trigger a fresh flood of home buyers; Manhattan residents whose precious, two-year-old geniuses failed to make the cut at Toddler school start thinking about suburban schools and parents of would-be Brunswick kids suddenly lose interest in moving closer to King Street and start investigating houses in Old Greenwich and Riverside. It’s all good; the kids will be fine, but we Realtors appreciate the new blood.
I recently pitched for, and lost, a listing here in town – the owners had a friendship with another agent and didn’t want to jeopardize it. I regret the loss of business, of course, but what I really regret losing is the chance to work with this high-class couple. The husband called me to inform me that they were listing with someone else and that’s a tough, embarrassing call to make; I’d equate it with having to call clients in my past life to tell them that the judge had ruled against us – thank God for answering machines, and the prescience to know when those clients wouldn’t be home! But really, it’s much nicer to learn of the loss personally, rather than see a hoped-for listing pop up on the MLS under another broker’s name. I used to work for another firm whose agents mostly dealt with polite, Back Country clients. Whenever we’d see the florist arrive in our parking lot we’d know that one of us had lost another potential listing. My advice is, skip the flowers, but a phone call is always appreciated.
I read an interesting study published by the Tax Foundation the other day, comparing the tax burdens imposed on corporations by states and federal governments. Turns out that Connecticut, combined with our friends in Washington, taxes these entities at a 39.9% rate. That compares to a 34% rate in France, 28% in Sweden, and 12.5% in Ireland. Guess whose economy is growing fastest? Guess who wants to raise taxes further?