Daily Archives: July 9, 2009

An important announcement

You may have noticed that For What It’s Worth has added a new writer/photographer to our staff, Mr.Edgar Martins. Edgar, who claims to be Portuguese but is of course a Frenchman, has recently become available after a distinguished career working for the New York Times and other world-wide media outlets. He’ll be bringing his creativity and original insights to our interviews with local celebrities and of course, our photo gallery of spectacular Greenwich houses. After interviewing Ed Krumeich and Jim Himes this morning Edgar returned to the spacious, nay luxurious offices of Futter & Fontanski Discount Realty demanding still more work – what a guy! – so we sent him up to Round Hill and he was fortunate to capture this candid, un-retouched portrait of the Noel family. We look forward to a continued relationship with Edgar and can hardly wait for him to bring the trustworthiness and accuracy of this blog to levels heretofore unachieved.

Copyright Edgar Martins

Copyright Edgar Martins

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If this is what $480,000 buys you in Harlem, we’re okay here in Greenwich

Dealbreaker links to Gawker who posts these interior shots of the one bedroom Harlem apartment Ruthie Madoff is considering. Makes even those condos in Portchester/Greenwich – River View? River Something – look damn reasonable at $750K.

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30 Dawn Harbor revisited

Photo by Edgar Martins, NYT

Photo by Edgar Martins, NYT

I had a chance to see this house that I wrote about yesterday and I remain convinced it’s the best deal going in Riverside. The sellers, you will recall, paid $3.9 + for it in 2007, fixed it up and, on a cheerful note, have apparently found a nice bargain elsewhere and are losing money on this one to take advantage of a larger saving on another. I hope that’s true because I don’t enjoy the many personal tragedies we’re seeing these days (no one will believe that, but it’s true) and it would strengthen my already strong faith in these sellers’ intelligence if, besides pricing it so smartly, they were able to appreciate that the sell and the subsequent buy are one transaction. Most sellers can’t do that – fear of loss is much more powerful than appreciation of gain.

Regardless, this one is priced at $3.2 million, has a fantastic flat backyard with a pool site, if wanted, and is in move-in condition. Excellent street, house and price. If my $2.5 clients could stretch a bit more you wouldn’t be reading about this house on this blog until after they’d had a chance to see it but here it is. If you’ve been waiting for prices to get reasonable, and can afford this price range, I’d say the wait is over. No, it’s Lauren Muse’s listing, not mine. I just think it’s really, really well priced. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try negotiating a bit – you’d hate yourself if you didn’t, but this one’s not for bottom feeding. Be real, and appreciate how sensible this price already is.

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How do these guys stay in business?

10 Spezzano

10 Spezzano

A long time ago, in housing years (April, 2007) I was asked to stop by this spec house and give my opinion on price. I asked for the address and then said, “$1.65 million”. “No n0,” I was told, ” I want you to see it.” “No need to,” I said, “there’s nothing that will ever sell for more than that on Spezzano, I don’t care how well it’s made.”

I probably should have stopped by because when I did I saw that the builders had gone cheap on everything that might sell a house – fixtures, moldings, etc. They even installed an electric hot water heater, for God’s sake, despite having gas led to the house, because it would have cost $600 to have  plumber hook up a gas one. So forget $1.695,  but my opinion was irrelevant anyway – they priced it at $2.395.

When it expired unsold a year later it parsed on to some entity that I assume bought the defaulted loan from the original lender and those geniuses priced it at $1.899 million. That would have been laughable in 2007, it was pathetic in late 2008. They are obviously in no need of money and don’t want to end this play because they have been nibbling away at their stupid price in $20,000 increment for months and today, they hit $1.699. By September they should be down to $1.65 which, if it were still 2007 and if this house had been built to the gold standard instead of the tinfoil one, might produce a sale. As it is, look for it in 2015 and see if it isn’t finally priced right.

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Stupid is as stupid does

The kooks at Myleftnutmeg.com are swooning over Chris Dodd’s transformation from flunky of the banks to a “Consumer Advocate”. Why, the desperate Senator will no longer give the financial industry lobbyists the time of day during this election cycle and the Nutmeggers are all atwitter. The Iowa campaign, the decades spent in the trousers of the bankers, all is forgiven and forgotten, because Dodd has been reborn. Could they be that stupid? Rhetorical question.

In the meantime, the same folks are outraged over Jim Hime’s refusal to toe whatever their line is and they’re screaming betrayal. In this case, they’re probably right. Himes owes his puny political presence to the nutcakes and to discard them now while trying to creep slightly to the center pisses them off and does nothing to assuage the right. Those of us nuts over on this side of the debate are after his blood and no amount of pandering will earn our support. See the difference between right wing kooks and the leftnuts? We;re not as dumb.

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I know, we’ll rent it!

504 North

504 North

The house that wouldn’t sell is now up for rent, asking $28,000 per month. This place, built on spec in 2007, was originally priced at $11.995 million and now asks $7.995. I’ll let the math mavens do the calculations as to whether $28,000 will carry it (assuming it rents for that) but there’s no question that it will lose further value during a year or two of occupancy and a general deterioration of market conditions.

One house that’s not for rent but is back after a hiatus is that 2007 spec at 83 Howard Road, way up off Taconic. They’ve dropped it a million, down to under $3, and it’s a neat house. The trouble is, besides its distant location, is that it’s crammed onto a half acre in the 4 acre zone, meaning there no room for anything,  noteven a pool. This would be a perfect weekend house but someone coming from the City to a spot this far from the water will want a pool. Or so I’d think, anyway.

83 Howard

83 Howard

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Al Qaeda grows in strength, Congress attacks CIA

>Al Qaeda is thriving in northern Africa, scaring the hell out of American and European security types. As the terrorists metastasize, the Democrats running Congress want to rewrite the Intelligence Authorization bill so as to force the CIA to brief every smarmy, traitorous bastard hiding under a desk in Washington and thus guarantee that no secret will remain secret longer than it takes to speed dial CNN. Even Obama is worried abut this one, and has threatened to veto the bill. Cos Cobber Jim Himes, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, hasn’t spoken out on this issue yet because he hasn’t received his orders. “But I guarantee you,” he promses, “that when the time is right, I will be for it, against it, or ‘present’.”

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Greenwich Time correction

Not that they’ll tell you, but I emailed Evonne Klein, First Selectman of Darien, and asked her about that $700 million replacement cost for the 24′ x 43′ bridge in Tokeneke. “More like $700,000″ she replies. If anyone at that paper would like to follow up, I’d be happy to supply them with Ms. Klein’s email and phone number.

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Someone’s buying

Two contracts today that took me somewhat by surprise or will if, as I assume, they sell for close to their asking price. 25 MacArthur Drive, asking $1.490 is under contract. The owners paid $1.45 for it in 2007 but I’d given up expecting to see a sale in that range in Havemeyer for awhile. Yet, there you are.

And 8 Beechcroft, purchased for $3.6 million in 2004, is reported pending today at its latest asking price, $4. 7 million. To be honest, I didn’t see improvements worth $1.1 million in this place and expected it to sell closer to its 2004 price than this, but obviously some buyer saw value where I didn’t. Good for him.

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The billions in stimulus funds flow mostly to Obama areas

As reported in USA Today, most of the stimulus funds are going to localities that voted for Obama and his crowd. The imbalance is so huge that most observers think it couldn’t be guided by politics – even the One isn’t that powerful, yet. But the lesson I take from this is even scarier: we’ve reached the tipping point, where the have-nots get to vote to tax the haves and reap all the benefits. Why care about taxes when it’s someone else paying them? As non-taxpaying voters assume the majority, there will be no stopping the looting until they’ve stripped their betters bare. Then, they’ll turn on themselves, which will be even uglier. Cos Cob Congressman voted for the Stimulus bill and supports it today, God knows why.

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What could possiby go wrong?

Out of work? Can’t pay your mortgage? Underwater on loan to value? How about we taxpayers stepping up to the plate and paying that bad ol’  loan for you? Barney Frank thinks it’s a great idea, and to object would be traitorous. Besides, it’s just a loan, secured by your worthless house, so when prices come roaring back, everybody wins.

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There is a rose in Spanish Harlem

At least so far as Ruth Madoff is concerned, who Dealbreaker.com reports was seen shopping for a one bedroom up there. I just don’t understand why Walt won’t put her up in the pool house on Round Hill. Plenty of room, if they remove the filter chemicals and she’d look just as cute as a button sweeping leaves from the pool (and transferring them to some spec houses whose prices I’m trying to drive down). Give it some thought, Walt. In the meantime, I suppose she can’t count on the co-writer of the lyrics to that Ben E. King song, Phil Spector for help – he seems to have made his own permanent housing arrangements, and they don’t allow conjugal visits.

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Old Church Road

Every time I see yet another high-priced listing on this road I think of 149 Old Church, which is a great old (1899) house, renovated in 2004 and sitting high up on 1 1/2 acres. It sold for $1.975 in 1998, was listed for $3.795 million in April 2008 and is still for sale, marked down to $2.575 which, accounting for inflation and some of the renovations, is just about where they started eleven years ago. I think it’s the best value on the street, and I do wonder why other sellers are trying to compete with it at a million dollars more. Town’s assessed value for the place is $2.509, if you’re keeping track.

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Greenwich Luddites

PTA Pres. Donna Curtis testifying before Greenwich P&Z

PTA Pres. Donna Curtis testifying before Greenwich P&Z

Thanks to roaring idiots like Donna Curtis, the President of the Glennville School PTA. another cellphone antenna application was denied Tuesday by Frankie Futter and his P&Z pals. Curtis, no doubt a charming lady who dotes on children, emerged from her spermaceti – lighted hut the other night to speak against the proposal “on behalf of the children”. Fully wrapped in tinfoil, she argued that we just can’t be too careful when it comes to childrens’ lives, and the complete debunking of health concerns from cellphone transmissions was no reason, no reason at all, to permit them inside Greenwich’s borders.

“We let them do it with that awful electricity,” Curtis moaned, wringing her hands and weeping, “and now look: dreadfully mutated babies, deformed little pets, all caused by those photons seeping from unstopped electrical outlets. When will this end? Oh, when will this end?”

The Planning and Zoning Commission heard her plea and, after voting down the antenna, had Ms. Curtis escorted back to her buggy and driven home. They then turned their attention to banning television waves entering Greenwich but had to table a demonstration of those dangers while they waited for a fresh shipment of tinfoil armour. “We’ll be back next month”, P&Z Secretary Fudrucker vowed. “Nothing will stop us from our goal of bringing Greenwich back to the safe, healthy days of 1640.”

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Ed Krumeich comes to his senses, withdraws from Selectmen’s race

Top lawyer and all-around-good-guy Ed Krumeich has dropped out of the Greenwich Selectmen’s race, just a few days after announcing his candidacy. Reached by For What It’s Worth’s intrepid photograher/reporter, Edgar Martins, Krumeich was happy to explain his reasons.

“I’m making big bucks here at Ivey Barnum an O’Mara”, the litigator explained, “and I couldn’t see trading that in for a chance to kiss ass in the Back Country and babies in Cos Cob. Besides, I’ve decided what I really want to be when I grow up is a Congressman like this Himes character. If I take his job, I can cut my workload to zero, my reading list below that, and spend my time boating on the Sound and going on International junkets. So look for another announcement in the coming weeks but, for now, I’m out of here.”

Good luck, Ed, with whatever you decide.

UPDATE: Krumeich’s office has just issued the followig press release:

Hi Greenwich, I appreciate speaking directly TO you, the people I serve, as your perpetual candidate.

People who know me know that besides faith and family, nothing’s more important to me than our beloved town. Serving her people is the greatest honor I could imagine.

I want Greenwich to grasp what can be in store for our town. We were stolen from the Siwanoys because a drunken English criminal Jhn Feakes, providentially saw in this great land, vast riches, beauty, strategic placement on the globe, and opportunity. He boldly looked “West to the Future”. But he endured such ridicule and mocking for his vision for Greenwich - remember the adversaries scoffed, calling this “Feake’s Folly”. Feakes withstood such disdain as he chose the uncomfortable, unconventional, but RIGHT path to secure Greenwich, so Greenwich could help secure the United States.
People who know me know that besides faith and family, nothing’s more important to me than our beloved Greenwich.

Greenwich’s mission – to contribute to America. We’re strategic IN the world as the air crossroads OF the world, as a gatekeeper of the continent. Bold visionaries knew this - Greenwich would be part of America’s great destiny.

Our destiny to be reached by responsibly developing our natural resources. This land, blessed with clean air, water, wildlife, minerals, AND hedge funds. It’s energy! God gave us energy. And remember, only dead fish float downstream.

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Breaking news from December 2008

Greenwich Bank & Trust’s parent has been sued in a class action brought by disgruntled Madoff investors. The first suits were filed last year within days of Madoff’s confession but now David Golub has stepped in with a new bunch of litigants. He’s an excellent lawyer, although I don’t remember him being involved in this field back when I was hunting wicked stockbrokers. Will he succeed? Who knows – his theory seems to be (and I’m basing this on a few scant newspaper paragraphs, not from a reading of the actual complaint) is that some “Investment Adviser”, a Ron Silverman, pooled clients’ assets, invested them with Madoff, and used GN&T’s parent as a custodian. Silverman went belly up as quickly as Walter Noel did so Golub is after the bank, claiming that if they had taken physical possession of the securities Madoff claimed to be purchasing, they’d have discovered the fraud.

Well, maybe, but Madoff was supposed to be going in and out of the market numerous times a day so what’s a custodian supposed to do to take possession? At first blush, I’d say this was a loser, but Golub’s a far better lawyer that I ever was, so I’ll make no prediction.

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Testing the Milbrook waters

36 West Brother Drive has just been listed for $6.2 million. I haven’t seen it in awhile but it sounds nice, on 3/4 of an acre and some six-year-old renovations, but this sounds steep for this market, this area. In a moment, I’ll go check on record Milbrook prices but I’ll note now that ths house seems to attract optimistic sellers: in 1995, it was listed for $2.850 million and sold a year later, to these people, for $1.850.

UPDATE: As I suspected, there isn’t much of a market for $6 + homes in Milbrook. Only one has ever sold for that amount, 100 Woodside, new construction in 2007, on the pond, feteched $6.350 in 2007. Nothing else has broken $4 million.

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Jim Himes: I don’t care what’s in it, I’m voting for Obama Care!

Turns out both versions of Obama Care, Senate and House, contain provisions for billions of tax dollars to be spent on farmers’ markets, park lighting and walkways.

Jeffrey Levi … said that “it is easy to satirize’’ the projects, but they are needed to improve America’s health.”

Oh, we’re beyond satire by now and well into tragedy. But remember, to speak against Obama is to speak against America, so button that lip. Jim Himes has, and he’s glad he did!

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