Daily Archives: September 16, 2008

NOT subject property
The builders are leaving tra la, tra la
89 Lower Cross Road was offered as a to-be-built mansion back in 2006 for $6.7 million. Construction started but no one bought and now you can buy it, complete with “foundation and partial framing” completed, for just $2.595. How valuable are such improvements after they’ve sat out in the weather for a few years? Another way of asking that is, what’s a building lot worth on Lower Cross, minus the expense of scraping off and disposing of the wreckage?

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Gabriel Nathan Schwartz
Ah, those fun loving delegates!
Some readers suspect me of being a Republican sympathizer. I’m not. But I do like following the foibles of politicians of both parties, such as this yokel who got robbed $50,000 at the Republican convention by a lady he let into his hotel room. What a 30-something male lawyer is doing carrying that much jewelry is a mystery, but $4,000 of the loss was a pair of earrings and he is a Republican, so perhaps that’s the explanation. But take a look at the guy’s picture. Could anyone with an ounce of self-honesty think this face would cause a beautiful woman to invite herself up to his room? Maybe she was also a masseuse.

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One of my favorite and wisest writers, James Lileks
Has this to say about boom times:

Having lived through a few such panics – real estate in the late 80s, the Savings and Loan crisis, junk bonds, the dot-com nonsense – I can conclude only one thing: no one pays attention to their gut. Whenever real estate spikes, my gut always says it’s a temporary thing, because two-bedroom houses with a cement yard and a bathroom that consists of a bucket can’t possibly be worth $800K just because it’s in California. Ditto the dot-com: start-ups like tentonsoftofu.com were getting millions of dollars with the usual vague projections: in the future everyone will be online, and since tofu will be more popular than ever, people will want to buy 20,000 pounds at a time if we offer the convenience of online ordering combined with free shipping. Most people thought it was nonsense, but the times were good, so enjoy.

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Pricing tip
I’m aware of a certain house whose owners paid too much for, back in the day, then compounded their error by over-improving what they’d bought. It’s a lovely house, but it’s priced way above what they can ever hope to get for it. When their agent suggested a price reduction, they proudly showed off a new kitchen they’d added and asked, “how can you ask us to drop our price now that we’ve redone the kitchen?” Well, if they’d asked their agent, she would have advised against throwing more money into the house. At a certain point of over-pricing, adding features will not address the real issue, which is price. These folks have just built a beautiful kitchen for someone else to enjoy but it will be at the sellers’ expense. My advice? Get advice, before you spend money on a house you’re trying to sell.

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It must be the Boston Globe’s day
here’s a good blog on truth in real estate advertising. Turns out, buyers aren’t stupid. Who knew?
The writer wonders what the phrase “must see” means. Had she asked, I’d have told her: a complete mess from the outside, so bad that no self-respecting buyer will get out of her car to examine it. The phrase implies a promise that there is something to see inside but in my experience, that’s a lie.
One of my favorite phrases is, “now priced to sell”. What the hell was it priced at before?
Or, “renovated”, with no further details. Believe me, if we agents can find anything positive to say about a house, we’ll mention it, so if you see this phrase but no specifics like new kitchen, new master bath, etc., you can assume it means that the fireplace ashes have been removed and the dust bunnies swept from under the bed, period.
“Convenient to transportation” of course, means it’s cheek-by-jowl with the highway, the railroad, or both.
“This one won’t last” almost always appears on dogs (and usually in conjunction with “must see”. It’s always bittersweet to see this description still lingering on year-old listings.
Need any other interpretations? Care to add some of your own? Pile on.

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More pricing follies
29 Byfield, mentioned here before, was listed April 15, 2008 for $9.495. It’s been dropping like a rock ever since and today was reduced again, to $5.698.
39 Boulder Brook, also listed on April 15 by the same broker, came on at $8.595 and dropped yesterday, again, to $4.998. Same broker, same listing date – same builder? Someone’s losing sleep, if so.
12 Doubling Road, coincidentally, was also listed by the same broker,back in September ’04 for $14.5 million and eventually sold for $7.575. A building lot was split off and sold for $4.130 in ’06 (nice price for the seller, I think) and now the original 1913 mansion, completely restored but shorn of several acres of its magnificent lawns, is back on for $13.5 million. Convenient location and nice house so maybe this time’s the charm.
And then we have 228 Stanwich Road. Its original owner tried to get $2.125 for it at the height of the market in 2007 but finally sold it for $1.7. The new owners returned it to the market, untouched, a year later, and asked $1.895. Today they lopped off $46,000. Call me crazy, but I think they’d be better off shooting closer to the price they paid for it. Regardless, I don’t think a 2% price cut is going to be much help.

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35 Club Road
This new construction in Riverside sold yesterday for $8.675. The owner wasn’t engaged in a spec project, as I understand it, but someone saw the finished product and made him an offer he couldn’t (or didn’t) refuse. A new record for non-waterfront property on this road, I believe. So that’s nice.

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