Monthly Archives: January 2012

Well, dang

Credit Suisse to cut 109 jobs in NYC. That may not sound like much but there are a lot of CS employees in Greenwich and I count several as friends and/or clients. As the recession deepens, the banks are looking beyond the pay scale of back room analysts and secretaries and going after those who have been earning large salaries. Those would be the people you were counting on to buy your home.

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That was quick. And doomed.

Islamists (Muslim Brotherhood – you know, the one liberals said were moderates?) block protest march in Cairo. And so it ends. Poor Egypt.

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Well, I guess overpricing didn’t work this time

This was the listing photo - no kidding

425 N. Maple has sold for $1.750 million, significantly below its first asking price of $3.125 million and less than what the town calculated to be 70% of its market value, $2.393. The source of that unfortunate result might be because the listing broker posted only one bad picture of the house online, but I’d attribute the dismal showing to that first price, that drove buyers away.

Look, this isn’t that complicated: people in the $3 million range are looking for more house, however you define that: better yard, better fixtures, layout, whatever, than those in the $2 range. So if you price your $2 million house at $3 you repel the high end buyers – there are better homes in that price range, and you scare off the $2 million buyers who assume you’ll never drop your price enough for them to afford it so why even bother looking? The result? No buyers in either class until you whack the bejesus out of the price. Then you attract the bottom feeders (often represented by me, sorry to say) and you get less than you would have had you priced it properly to begin with.

Try it next time.

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And at the Fountain and Fudrucker homes, the beans move off the shelf and back in the pantry

(Artist's rendering)

487 North Street, two lots combined as one, under contract. Only took since September.

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Just give us til the ground thaws and we’ll do it

The Donald wants to be buried on his golf course.

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Chargus interruptus

That's okay, it happens to everybody

Condos refusing to let electric car owners recharge the batteries. Harsh bud, Dude.

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Shall we give them a hint?

Go away!

Not enough data to explain why doctors are leaving Medicare. It’s bizarre: we keep cutting Medicare reimbursement to doctors yet they keep shedding those patients. Who can explain this?

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Maxwell House comes to Starbucks

Jesus Christ

A friend who has access to such stuff gave me a pound of Starbucks new “Blonde” bean so that I could decide for myself if it was as bad as I expected. It’s worse, bringing to mind Monty Python’s riff about Australian wines coming in a poor second to Aborigine armpit sweat. Who comes up with a product like this? How could a panel of coffee makers sit around the cupping room, taste what they had produced and declare it fit for pig washing and human consumption? Poor pigs.

The unused portion of those beans is headed for the Bridgeport incinerator and my friend is now off my Christmas list – his was a cruel joke to play on anyone.

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Hmm, what to do?

Honey, we have company

Back from open houses (open house, actually). Nice place, although I’m pretty the buyer I had in mind for it won’t like its architecture or the layout of the kitchen/family area. I noticed a water stain on a section of the carpeting in the basement – “lower level”, at this price range – so I opened the door behind it to see what was up. A Bilco door leading up and outside, naturally and, judging from the sunlight I saw pouring in from its sides and top, the Sgt. Bilko there is probably the source of the rain water.

No big deal and easily remedied – by the seller, I would argue. But at the foot of the steps leading out, on either side, were two big rat baits, and don’t they pose an ethical dilemma? As listing agent, do you leave the baits where they are and thus alert the home buyer of the presence of pets, or do you remove them and let the happy new owners discover a native population of Willards themselves?

I think I move the baits.

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Abandon ship!

26 Nimitz, over in Havemeyer, failed to sell at the height of the market in 2007 when it was priced at $1.050 million so after a year it was taken off, only to reappear in 2009 asking $1.250 million. This curious pricing strategy of raising the price while the market is dropping like a stone failed to work for mysterious reasons and so today, six agents and eight prices later, it’s reduced to $829,000. Hint to seller: it was never the fault of any of those agents that this failed to sell.

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Okay, it’s a contemporary, but still, where’s that reader who keeps saying prices have stabilized?

"The Land Endures" (National Realtor slogan)

622 Riversville Road has an accepted offer today, presumably at less than its last asking price of $2.299 million. It asked $4 million when it started this sale process in 2009, was purchased for $3.320 million in 1987 (!) and is burdened with a $2.835 mortgage. Owie.

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Connecticut may lose its ranking as worse place in America to retire in

We're getting you the Hell out of here, Granny!

Giant pythons running loose in Florida. They’ve already killed 98% of the deer, and rodents and smaller mammals are going fast too. Either these big boys will run out of food and starve to death or, more likely, they’ll turn their attention to the slow-moving denizens of Leisure Village.

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The Advice Goddess asks the big question of the day

Who you calling stupid?

Is being a moron a requirement for getting a government job? TSA employees screen terrorists posing as passengers as they’re leaving the train, rather than boarding. Do you remember when Butch and Sundance were hired to protect the mine payroll and were super vigilant as they descended the mountain to the bank? Their employer pointed out that bandits would strike when they had the payroll, not when they were going to fetch it. The legacy lives on.

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Ugh

Case/Shiller housing index falls from January ‘2010 level, worse than expected. And the Consumer Confidence Index, which was expected to rise, fell, instead. Do these indexes mean anything? What am I, a philosopher?

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Looking like a bad year for tire salemen

Slim Pickings

The broker open house list is out for today and there’s nothing on it but retreads. This is supposed to be the busy season but it’s obvious that those who don’t have to sell are holding their houses off the market, and the banks are doing the same thing with their portfolio of bad loans. There’s one new listing that I really should see because one of my clients has expressed a vague interest in the neighborhood but I see that its owner has restricted the time of the open house, which is always a bad sign: it portends difficulty in arranging showings in the future. On the other hand, with nothing else to visit, I have plenty of time to get to this one.

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Like a bad penny, …

Don't look too closely

516 Round Hill Road is back on the market. Partially built by Greenwich’s own Dominick DeVito, construction was discontinued when Dom was shipped off to La Tuna prison in Texas for mortgage and insurance fraud (he’ll be back in 51 months, more or less, depending on good behavior). One of the mysteries of this place is how Patriot Bank could have advanced $6 million on what was just a basement with some framing on top but a former loan officer for that bank was in charge and, because his feelings were hurt when I discussed him last week I took down the offending post (my little brother Gideon runs into him at the Riverside Yacht Club and I didn’t want to make things awkward for Gid); you’ll just have to track him down and ask him for details.

In any event, that loan officer is gone, Patriot is grievously wounded and Dom’s out of commission, so someone had to step up and try to unload this masterpiece built on fill. And someone has. For a mere $9 million, the place can be yours. Was it torn down and rebuilt from scratch or did they take the existing structure and finish what was there, notwithstanding three or four years of exposure to the weather? Beats me, but I’m sure someone at the listing broker has the answer; I’d be sure to ask.

516 is just across the street from Leona’s place, also unsold at this writing, up the road from Frederic Bourke’s and a short drive from Raj’s. You’ll be in good company, if you like felons.

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Under contract, after just four years

Nothing's too steep in Greenwich

On the other hand, the surprising thing is that it’s selling at all. (NMI) N. Hawthorne Street in Glenville has an executed contract: last ask was $299,000, down a tad from its initial price of $900,00o. Interesting what can happen once the bong is put down and the smoke clears, eh?

I had thought that this lot was too precipitous and oddly shaped to support a structure but the town obviously didn’t think so: it assesses it at $343,000. And presumably, someone else sees its possibilities, unless it was purchased by a neighbor to add to his own FAR. As they say, watch this space.

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Not every short sale is a bargain

One North Street in Cos Cob (across from the filter plant) has expired unsold after being listed last year at, first, $849,000 and later, $829,000. Owners bought it direct from a foreclosing bank in 2008 for $880,000. Nice house and neighborhood but sometimes it’s best to let a house sit on the open market and be exposed to market forces rather than rely on getting a “behind the velvet rope” price.

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Stop nickle and diming Connecticut’s poor

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go!

Our Democrats are back at it today, proposing yet another increase in the minimum wage. That’s admirable, of course, and clearly demonstrates the legislators’ compassion for the poor and generosity with other people’s money, but why do they keep raising the wage in such small increments? Every study by economists  demonstrates that a raise in the minimum decreases teen employment, but those studies are all conducted by flacks for the fast food industry and are therefore bogus.

And why should an extra expense for labor affect employment? After all, the demand for illiterate, unskilled and inexperienced workers is huge – limitless, under Democrat economic theory – so raise away, and for God’s sake and for all that’s decent, let’s bump wages high enough to really make a difference and transform these people’s lives. I have long advocated imposing a minimum of $100 per hour, figuring that that should do the trick but Ct. Public Radio aired an interview with a young black man this morning who showed me my error. His peers, he said, “can make $20 in ten minutes selling drugs, so why should they work five hours for that same twenty?” Absolutely brilliant thinking, disregarding the poor fellow’s bad math skills (minimum wage is $8.15, not $4), and, while he is obviously incapable of the calculation that’s required, I’m not: the wage necessary to pull drug dealers off the street is $120.

Will drug dealers actually be willing to work eight-hours straight in order to fully benefit from our largess? No matter – with our new mandatory sick leave law, they can just show for that first ten minutes and then retire for the week at full pay. Result? Poverty solved.

Now all we need worry about is them drowning when the icebergs melt.

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What are they so afraid of?

It's the truth! Run away!

Warming Alarmists seek to purge TV weathermen who deny global warming. Except for Al Gore and our own Dollar Bill, no one thinks that short-term weather, which is what is discussed on local weather shows, has anything to do with long – term climate change. But in the brave new world, purity is everything.

The Forecast the Facts campaign — led by 350.org, the League of Conservation Voters and the Citizen Engagement Lab — is pushing for more of a focus on global warming in weather forecasts, and is highlighting the many meteorologists who do not share their beliefs.

“Our goal is nothing short of changing how the entire profession of meteorology tackles the issue of climate change,” the group explains on their website. “We’ll empower everyday people to make sure meteorologists understand that their viewers are counting on them to get this story right, and that those who continue to shirk their professional responsibility will be held accountable.”

These are the same people, or their spawn, who used to hiss and shout me down in college classrooms when I challenged our  professors’ communist prattle. They were terrified then and still are.

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