Daily Archives: November 3, 2009

Tesei wins, Lavery returns to Junior League

Looks like Tesei whumps Lavery by 60/40 or more. Interestingly, Drew Marzulla is ahead of his running mate so he’ll take her seat on the Board of Selectmen. Oh well, it’s not like it pays anything, like our tax collector position does. I can find no word on who’s ahead on that one.

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Could they be any worse than “An Inconvenient Truth”?

SOVIETPutin demands Soviet film makers succeed in the west. “All for most glorious triumph of communism over capitalism. Do we not win awards at same festivals this Mikael Moore does? Does not Hugo Chavez weep when he sees “Girl chasing Imperialistic Tiger with broom of the Proletariat”? We needs must only show these fine arts works to Americans to prove our worth. Where is that Peter Brant stooge? He will help, da?”

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Did Greenwich Time really raise its price again?

So says Bill Clark – from $0.50 to $0.75 to $1.00, all in just a few months. I wouldn’t buy it at fifty cents so I guess I’m saving twice as much now but judging from its on-line content, it doesn’t seem to be twice as good as before. Quite the contrary, now that the paper is down to one reporter and the almost-retired but still loveable nonogenarian, Bernie Yudain.

On the other hand, Peter Pervert was complaining in court the other day that his newsprint business was down, so perhaps this is Greenwich Time’s sly effort to subsidize the little fella and ensure that he keeps gracing Greenwich with novelty art like Santa with Butt Plug. I think I’ll keep my money home.

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Kind of puts me off my feed for a nice Scarpelli’s sausage

c03stenchb.jpg

It's not called Bible Street for nothing

Cleveland: Neighbors ignored stench of ten (found so far) decomposing bodies buried in serial killers yard – “we thought it was coming from the sausage store”.

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B of A gives up trying to find a CEO willing to live in Charlotte

Because no banker qualified to lead  Bank of America (seems like a low enough hurdle to me) is willing to relocate to Charlotte, North Carolina the bank is now offering to permit him or her to be based in New York. Hey, if that person like New Jersey then, as a reader comments below, perhaps I can sell him 15 Lia Fail – it may have the Jersey look, but taxes are a tenth of theirs.

UPDATE: I jut located Charlotte on the map and it seems to be located precisely in the middle of nowhere. How did Bank of America find its way there?

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Best value in Greenwich?

15 Lia Fail

15 Lia Fail

My vote goes to this house, 15 Lia Fail in (gasp!) Cos Cob. I mentioned it awhile ago but I’ve been soft pedaling it while I brought it to the attention of a couple of my own clients. They didn’t bite (too big for one, beyond stretching range, the other), so here it is again. It’s on over two acres, bordered by conservation land and in the nicest neighborhood in Cos Cob in my opinion. The house is in fabulous condition -one client asked if it were new and it comes with a pool and a separate guesthouse.

lia fail kitchenThe owners paid $1.8 million for it in 1999, added on to it in 2002 and renovated it in 2007. They priced it at $2.850 in 2008 and it didn’t sell. It’s back on now at $2.225 and offers more house, on better land and a better location than anything else in its price range I am aware of. I think it’s a great deal. Assessment is $1.929, and in this case, the house should command a premium over that.

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Here’s a nifty place

121 Cat Rock

121 Cat Rock

A 1960 contemporary with no updates and woods and wetlands for a yard but at $995,000 it’s got appeal (to me). Heck, you could probably get it for around what Meyer Place sold for and this one has no noise. Assessment is $1.398, so you can look forward to a reduction in your tax bill, too.

121 Cat interior

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It’s back

62 Ridge Street

62 Ridge Street

Fresh from his triumph in selling off his spec house on Lindsay Lane for $10 million + the owner of this home on Davis Ridge Street has brought it back on the market at the same price it hasn’t sold for before, $6.975. It started off long ago at $7.250, was raised to $7.450, then dropped to its current price, all to no avail. It’s possible that with a new agent flogging it he’ll get his price but my impression is that the market for $7 million downtown homes overlooking D’Elia Honda’s parking lot and within close earshot of I-95 is rather limited these days. Of course, it only takes one buyer.

Assessment is $2.942 million.

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Big voter turnout meaning …?

Frankie Fudrucker, who pays attention to this sort of thing, reports that voters are turning out in huge numbers – maybe even a 50% rate by evening’s end, which is unusually high for off-year Greenwich elections. Is this a groundswell of support from Republicans, determined to save their boy Tesei and spurred to action by Jeremy Kaye’s eloquent plea? Or are boaters, angry at that goddamned deckmaster and the new cigarette boat Tesei gave him filing down to the polls to throw the scoundrel out? Stay tuned. 

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High unemployment? Raise the price of labor.

That’s what the health care mandate on employers will do. I haven’t seen anyone deny this. Supporters of ObamaKare just ignore it – “it will  class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”will “>cure itself by producing huge cost savings magically” or, “well it’s already costing us that” (false). We’re heading for Europe, with its high unemployment rates, and we’re loving it. Yes, you’ll be out of a job, but you can get free medical care at the clinic – isn’t that swell?

UPDATE: And here’s another swell idea – mandatory paid sick leave, courtesy of the federal government, paid for by your employer.

“This will not only protect employees, but it will save employers money by ensuring that sick employees don’t spread infection to co-workers and customers, and will relieve the financial burden on our health system swamped by those suffering from H1N1.”

Ever notice that it’s always senators who’ve never worked for a living who keep coming up with great ideas that will save employers money? The employers are just too stupid to see what the real men of genius in Washington can see.

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Sale and a contract, two bits

40 Meyer Place in Riverside, one of those “convenient to transportation” locations, sold today for $920,000, down from its asking price of $1.095, 1.08% of its $853,000 assessment.

UPDATE: I blew this call. Back in September when this house was reported as under contract I predicted it would sell for “well below” its assessed value. Not the first time I’ve been wrong and certainly not the last.

10 Sparrow lane, a nice older house with a good yard backing up to a graveyard started out at $5.250 in February 2008 is reported “pending” today. Its last asking price was $3.8 million so depending on its actual selling price, it could come out quite a bit ahead of its $3.0 asessment. Or not – we’ll see.

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Will “life – long Democrat” Jeremy Kaye be welcomed back in the swamp?

branded
He was innocent, not a charge was true …

That’s how the Republicans described Jeremy in their mailer when sending out his letter of endorsement for Peter Tesei to voters. What will the Democrats do with this turncoat? What on earth will Thanksgiving dinner at the Kaye family look like, with eight Kayes staring cooly at their errant little brother gone astray?

I can’t speak for the Democrats, Jeremy, but you’re certainly welcome at our house for Thanksgiving – we have a tradition of providing warmth and shelter to cast-offs, no matter how badly they have erred.

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In the mail

Hello fellow brokers,
There are many rumors out there regarding 228 Round Hill Road that are totally baseless.  Know that you can get a seven bedroom septic in there and a replacement.  Yes you can get a basement in there.  There is a basement there now and it is bone dry.  The property across with the beautiful view of the field, CANNOT be built on.  The owner put in a driveway for the tracktors to mowthe field and not get mud on the main driveway to the house.  When and if you hear these rumors.  Please, please call me to discuss.  As you all know, rumors can be very damaging. 
Thank you for your co-operation

This is indeed a nice piece of property. My clients and the sellers had a significant disagreement about its value, but, at least last spring, that’s why our deal never went forward and certainly nothing about the buildability of the lot. I’m not a particular fan of this agent but I agree with her in this respect: stupid, unfounded rumors can hurt a property and no professional should have anything to do with them.

One tip: don’t use “tracktors” in an email to the entire real estate community. Makes you look bad.

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Neighborhood sales

A reader asked whether Riverside was holding its own against Old Greenwich in these times of woe and, while the data are too scant to come up with a valid conclusion, here’s what we have for September through today in contracts (some of which have closed already).

Riverside (including NoPo): 12 single families, $750,000 – $4.775 (Glen Avon sale)

Old Greenwich (including Havemeyer): 11 single families, $750,000 – $6.195 (asking price – sales price not yet disclosed)

Cos Cob: 8 single families (including Cos Cob): $465,000 to $1.695

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Tesei declares victory, urges voters to save gas, stay home. Orders polls to close early

Well perhaps he hasn’t done that yet, but why not? I can see I’m going to just have to run the Republican’s next election myself.

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Illy Coffee expands in the U.S.

Premium Italian coffee purveyor is setting up shop in existing competitors of Starbucks. I say, welcome. The country may have gone to hell in the past twenty years but our coffee has improved hugely. McDonalds makes a good cup now, Dunkin Donuts ain’t bad and Starbucks, love it or hate it, has shown that there’s profit to be gained in a decent brew. Even highway rest stops now offer something approaching palatable. I knew the revolution had occurred when a few years ago I stopped by my old stomping grounds (so to speak), Miller’s General Store in East Holden, Maine, where I used to get a cup of swill every morning. I asked for a cup and was directed not to the old Bunn pot with five-day-old sludge but a bank of pump thermoses with coffee brewed that day. Wow.

So if Illy can continue that improvement, bring it on.

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Price cut on Lockwood Lane

36 Lockwood Lane
36 Lockwood Lane

This is a very decent renovation on the rather noisy Lockwood Lane, originally priced at the unfortunate sum of $2.995 million. The owners have had four years to regret that decision and they have now marked it down to $1.495. I wouldn’t say this place was ever worth twice its current price, but it looks pretty good now. Is there highway noise? Sure – if there weren’t, it would be worth a lot more – d’uh. But  at this price, I think I could learn to adjust. Assessment is only $1.114 which seems low to me but somewhere between that price and the new asking price, a deal can be found.

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Cos Cob bidding war!

16 Licata

16 Licata Terrace

It actually happened early in August but the sale closed yesterday. This house on Licata Terrace, priced at $895,000, sold for $911,500. Assessment is $711,600, so so much for that benchmark. Price war winners from 2005-2007 all turned out to be losers when they went to resell their prize, but perhaps this time is different.

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On the other hand, here’s a guy with a real track record of accomplishment who thinks the future will be okay

Warren Buffet buys Burlington Northern Railroad.

“Our country’s future prosperity depends on its having an efficient and well-maintained rail system,” said Warren E. Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and chief executive officer. “Conversely, America must grow and prosper for railroads to do well. Berkshire’s $34 billion investment in BNSF is a huge bet on that company, CEO Matt Rose and his team, and the railroad industry.

“Most important of all, however, it’s an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States,” said Mr. Buffett. “I love these bets.”

I couldn’t hope to have my pessimism proved wrong by a better man.

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The commercial real estate market is just beginning to collapse

Or so says this Prudential report.

Prudential has put out a quarterly update on the state of the US commercial real estate market. 

Square Feet Blog identified a few of the key comments from the report.

On commercial banks:

Commercial banks, which represent about half of the $3.5 trillion commercial-mortgage market, remain largely stuck in the “extend-and-pretend” mode. Some banks are originating loans for balance sheets, but the capacity and appetite for such deals is limited. Many banks are working through issues emanating from distressed loans that they wrote or inherited through mergers and thus most of their mortgage business encompasses extending existing loans.

And here’s the ominous commentary on life insurers, always a big part of this market

Troublesome for the market is that the increased activity of life companies and the emergence of specialty firms falls far short of filling the void left by the decimated CMBS market. At their peak life insurers wrote slightly more than $40 billion of commercial mortgages annually, compared to peak CMBS issuance of $230 billion in 2007. According to the American Council of Life Insurers, in the second quarter life companies made $4.6 billion of mortgage commitments, up 77% from 1Q09; a vast improvement but a drop in the bucket relative to the amount needed to replace the roughly $400 billion of debt that is scheduled to mature in 2010.

How does this affect your serene little cottage in Chickahominy? Well, if the banks fail, who’s going to lend your buyer the money to buy it?

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