Daily Archives: July 16, 2010

Not that I would ever, ever make fun of our less-educated members of Congress

But gee, here’s a lady whose vote counts equally with whomever we here in Connecticut send to Washington. Is it fair, or racist, to ask, “why bother?” I suppose one could call Viet Nam, divided north and south “side-by side”, and the lady seems young enough to not remember that the country was unified (invaded) in 1972, but it troubles me, a little, that this woman has  a vote on how we should deal with more current troubles, like Iran, Iraq Afghanistan and the Sudan. I certainly don’t want to see a return to literacy tests and poll taxes for voters, but couldn’t we at last require some form of current events test for would-be politicians?

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Where the hell is Tesei on this tax bill mess?

Peter Tesei - "who, me?"

Okay, so our Tax Collector Tod Laudonia lied about sending out tax bills on Monday – we can deal with that next year when we toss the idiot back out on the street – but where is the First Selectman and what is he doing? Absolutely silent for over two weeks. John Margenot would have already established at least three committees to study the issue by now, Jim Lash would have solved the problem, but Tesei is hiding out, working on important issues like how many people should be allowed on Island Beach each day and whether they can play their radios. I’ve given up on Greenwich Time  ever providing real coverage of this story – its editors are snuggled deep  between Tesei’s buttocks and like the warmth they find there, but do you realize that, between them, Tesei and Laudonia are our two highest-paid elected officials? I am registered as a Republican, not that that has ever prevented me from voting for Libertarian or other politicians that interest me, but I mention it to demonstrate that I’m not some partisan anti-Republican. But if this pair of losers is the best Greenwich Republicans can produce, then either the party should dig deeper or Greenwich should dump the Republicans next election. What an embarrassment.

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Business finally accepts Mac OS – Greenwich MLS holds firm

If you believe this poll, 79% of businesses are now allowing their employees to use the Mac operating system (but read the article before you believe me – I merely  skimmed it). What sets me off is that here in Greenwich we have a horrible, almost-useless system that will only work with Windows – not Mozilla, not Mac not nothing. I suspect this is due to a combination of factors – a desire to keep a firm grip on the monopoly on GMLS listings and not allow agents from other towns access our listings and – plain old cheapness – the Greenwich Board purchased a cheap piece of crap program from some source and doesn’t want to spend extra (or the provider is incapable of ) opening it to better operating systems.

Windows sucks, if you haven’t noticed, and it frosts my buttons to have to own a Windows machine and have to rely on it to access the GMLS, especially given the dues I just paid to continue to belong to this fine organization. You might think that an organization run by and for the benefit of its members would be responsive to their needs. You would be wrong.

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Seeded Watermelon – burning issue of (my) summer

With five of us Fountain kids, we naturally spent a good portion of each summer gnawing on watermelons and spitting the seeds at each other. But, beyond the question of ammunition (and Gideon’s bigger and stronger than I am now, so no longer a suitable target), I can only find seedless watermelons in the supermarket and, I, at least, find them tasteless and bland. Life here in crowded little Riverside has many virtues but space for growing melons is not among them, so I can’t solve my problem on my own.

Anyone know of a source for seeded melons? Farmer’s market perhaps?

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Apple does the smart thing (naturally)

Brother Gideon and I were discussing the iPhone 4 “issue” over the weekend and we both agreed that everyone we knew who has one loves it. Nonetheless, with Consumer Reports out with their damning claim of reception problems, we figured what Apple should do is give away the rubber baby buggy bumper they were selling for $29. What’s the actual cost of such an item – two bucks? Eat the cost.

That’s exactly what they’ve announced they’re doing today. I’d dearly love to be a genius like Steve Jobs, but that’s not happening. But I’ve seen very kind of smart people make dumb business decisions (that would be me). Delighted to see that Jobs is not one of them.

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Here’s a sale I’m pleased with

My clients just closed today on a building lot at 10 Halsey Drive for $485,000. It was a bank-owned property and that bank, based in California, was at first appalled that anyone would bid so little for a nice house in Old Greenwich. Their broker had to break the news to them that, after they had foreclosed, the sump pump was somehow turned off, faucets left open, drains stopped, and the house had flooded, been condemned and torn down. They owned a building lot, not a house. So negotiations improved from there on.

As I told my clients this morning, a year from now we might all be selling apples from carts on Wall Street so I can make no prediction of future value. But on a comparative analysis of what is available and selling right now, $485,000 is a most excellent deal and one that I think allows for a good buffer should prices drop still further.

Of course what’s good news for my clients is bad news if you are a current Havemeyer land owner because we just clobbered your land’s value (I’m talking building lots here, not existing homes). But that’s how it is, as of today.

UPDATE: reviewing this post,  I realize I claimed far too much credit for my part in this sale. It was my client who found the listing – it never made the GMLS – I merely advised on what I thought would be a bargain price and still be a winning bid. I have expanded my radar far beyond the GMLS these days, but my client certainly deserves credit for discovering this gem (and no, he hasn’t called or written to complain , he’s far too much of a gentleman to do that – but I wasn’t captain of the Harvard swim team, I never served in Viet Nam, and I didn’t find this particular deal on my own). On the other hand, this does make three straight deals since November that I think I’ve helped close at really good values, and I’ve got at least a  few more in the pipeline. So I do my best, but do watch my ego, because, sometimes, I claim too much. I’ve got “flawed human” down pretty well.

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The perils of buying undersized lots

83 Howard Lane

 

The builder of this house on Howard (way up off Taconic) is the same guy with those condos on Valley Road. He paid $1.6 for the land in 2005 and built an absolutely gorgeous house – one of the nicest I’ve seen while in this business. But the land is just 0.5 acre in the 4-acre zone – ow! By the time FAR regs got through with this lot there wasn’t even room for a pool which was a pity, because it would have made a perfect weekend house for New Yorkers.  

He put it up for sale in 2007 at $4.2 million and finally sold it yesterday for $2.6. Even at that, I think he was lucky.

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Here’s an interesting contract

228 Stanwich Rd

The owners of this Stanwich property paid $1.7 million for it back in 2007 which, considering its location: down off the road, way below road grade, I thought was pretty steep. In fact, I would have suggested $1.1 but they didn’t ask me. They tried reselling it shortly thereafter for something like $1.8 and, getting no takers, pulled it off the market and then last year went ahead and constructed a new house.

Well they get the last laugh on me – priced at $3.999 million and still unfinished, it’s under contract after just 32 days. I’m pleased for them – they seem like very nice people, – and I’m delighted to see that the market for new construction seems to be coming back around.

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