Daily Archives: January 20, 2012

Brace yourself, Bridget

Hartford visits Greenwich

That’s the definition of Irish foreplay, and here in Greenwich we probably want to start practicing our brogue. Moodys just downgraded Connecticut’s debt because of our unfunded pension liabilities and our current $94 million deficit in this year’s budget. The latter despite Malloy’s imposing the largest tax hike in state history last year. Turns out, when Wall Street incomes fall, Connecticut residents who earned those salaries pay less, and when there are no capital gains, there are no capital gains taxes to collect. Dollar Bill and Brunswick’s Cole Stangler will cheer this result, though we hope Mr. Stangler’s father will have enough stored away to continue young Cole’s tuition at Georgetown and fund his trips to Havana, but Malloy will undoubtedly respond by raising taxes again.

And who, in all this fair land, still has assets to tax? “Top o’ the day ta you, Laddie”.

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Peter Alexander: “Well hell, send them over here to Pemberwick!”

Come here, you little munchkin!

High School bans cougar mascots as “offensive to women”

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Okay, this is kind of cool

And, unlike buying a house, you won’t deceive yourself into thinking that you’re putting your money into anything other than a depreciating “asset”

Uncle Walt's Play House?

$3 million road warrior. Ditch the Riverside home, saddle up and git goin’. Myself, I’d prefer a thirty-year-old Airstream but still…. And were you to set Cindy Renfret loose in here for a few weeks, you’d never know you’d left Greenwich – not, that is, until you pulled into a Walmart RV parking area out there in Oklahoma; then you’d know.

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The MLS gates close on a less-than-stellar week

Clothed Gates (horrible pun)

Exactly three accepted offers on residential houses this week (an accepted offer is one with contingencies still attached – when those are met, the next step is an executed contract and then, finally, a sale. For purpose of hard data, you want actual sales. For getting the pulse of the market, A/O’s are the most current data). Of those three, one was the large one mentioned earlier today, 175 Zaccheus Mead, asking $5.999. The other two were less impressive: A Havemeyer home asking $615,000 and one on Carolyn Place over there in Pemberwick or Byram or some such place, asking $350,000 and also listed as land.

Maybe next week.

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Hillcrest Park

Hillcrest Park has some difficulty garnering the respect that I think it should have, probably because it’s in NOPO and across the street from Havemeyer. But the lots there are all at least an acre, the old homes still standing are fantastic and even the newer generation houses are entirely adequate, though they won’t inspire a visit from Yale Architectural School students – a blessing, doubtless.

Today number 14 Old Farm Lane (so named, of course, because there hasn’t been a farm anywhere around these woods since Washington rested his troops here during the war) announced an executed contract. Last asking price was $2.195, down from an original $2.695. Assuming the final sales price will be less than the ask, the buyers are doing pretty well. The sellers paid $1.710 for this house in 2002 and obviously put a lot of money into renovations – they’re probably losing money, in fact. So for less than $2 million, the buyers will get what’s essentially a new house, an acre of land and a good neighborhood. You couldn’t touch this place for anything close to that price south of the Post Road, even today – maybe next year, but not today. Nice house.

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Maybe this unit’s been hidden in back all these years

Unit 115, The Gables

Unit 115 at the Old Greenwich Gables came up for sale at $1.73 million last week and was increased today to $1.910. That movement upward caught my eye so I pulled the history of these condos and the two most recent sales for three-bedroom units like this one were $882,000 (March, 2011) and $917,000 (August, 2011). Hmm. I then checked to see what the seller paid for this one and my goodness, even though the seller is a broker herself, she bought it outside the MLS in 2006 and paid $1.4 million, the highest price, I believe, ever paid for Old Greenwich Gables. Why buy a property that’s been exposed to market pressure when you can get a secret deal, hidden offered to the hoi polloi, for a real steal?

So I can understand her desire to resell it for a profit, even during this downturn but I’d have thought $1.7 would have been adequate for that purpose, had she been able to achieve her price. Raising it to $1.9 seems counter-productive but then, I’m not privy to her thinking.

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That darn Riverside!

28 Verona Drive

New construction at 28 Verona Drive (off of lower Lockwood in Riverside) asked $4.250 million and got $3.980. That’s an awful lot, I think. The house next door, built by the same man, got about this price a year or so ago so I guess that’s the comp. Testimony to the lack of new construction in Riverside but still, in this market?

(This is actually November activity, because the contract was executed November 10 of last year)

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Stirrings

The Board’s back up and reporting and not only is there a second accepted offer to add to this week’s Havemeyer contract, it’s in the mostly moribund $5 million plus category. 175 Zaccheus Mead has found a (contingent) buyer. Last asking price was $5.999 million. This is a nice house if you like ‘em big and it’s on a good street. It was custom built and that quality shows. Before you owners of houses in this range get overly excited,however, you should know that this started at $7.3 million in 2009 and spent 975 DOM. Don’t pack your bags just yet.

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Greenwich Association of Realtors annual meeting this morning so no real estate news

I didn’t attend for health reasons – they’d stone me – but I hear that my peers voted to increase commissions to 10%, ban all internet advertising and demand free car washes from Splash.

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Why don’t they just impose their own communist dictatorship so Obama will let us buy it?

You mean the idiots want to buy OUR oil?

Canada: the US doesn’t want our oil, we’ll prepare to export to China.

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NEA: we admit we can’t teach kindergarteners to read, so let’s talk sex

Next up, it's swish and spit time!

NEA – backed report urges that sex education, including “gender orientation” classes, begin in Kindergarten and continue through elementary school. What with state-mandated fluoride “swish and spit” sessions, gay, black and women’s oppression history courses and “every day math”, it’s probably not too surprising that we’re producing so many illiterate students who, even in Greenwich, can’t achieve even a 50% graduation rate in college. Time to reopen our doors to immigrants so that we can repopulate the educated class.

 

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Dunkin rolls into Old Greenwich

Room for both?

We’ve discussed this before, but Greenwich Post has finally caught up with the news that Dunkin Donuts is poised to occupy the former Patriot Bank branch in Old Greenwich. No word yet whether, like Patriot, Dunkin will pass out free loans to felons, but already some retailers are wary of the new competition. One who is not is Frank Carpenteri, owner of the best fried chicken joint in town, Garden Catering.

Mr. Carpenteri said he has some concerns about what kind of impact a national chain would have on an area with so many independent businesses, but added that if the project gets through the town’s approval process, he would happily welcome it to the neighborhood. He said that’s “fair competition” but acknowledged there are others who might have bigger problems for it. He said he didn’t want to criticize Mr. Porricelli for any decisions he might make.

“He’s a business owner established in this town,” Mr. Carpenteri said. “He can make his own decisions.”

I think Carpenteri will do just fine facing “fair competition” from DD because, besides that chicken, he makes a fine chili-egg-bacon sandwich whose equivalent will never appear behind the glass counters across the street and the best iced coffee ever, hands down. On the other hand, Garden Catering’s regular coffee could stand some improvement – brown crayons steeped in hot water just don’t make a memorable brew, so if the presence of competition forces Frank to upgrade his beans I’m all for it.

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The usual thoughtful investigative reporting from the Hartford Courant

Got it made in the shade, Baby

Do solar panels make economic sense in Connecticut? Sure they do, says the Courant, and they introduce  a charming, six-year-Prius-ownership couple to prove it. According to the reporter, the happy homeowners merely had to rebuild their roof to change its pitch and orient it south, buy $25,000 of solar equipment that you contributed $13,000 towards and then, thanks to a 30% subsidy from you again, plus the right to sell $0.14 a watt electricity back to you at $1.75, they’ll have the whole thing paid off in just seventeen years.

The Courant’s “business reporter”, one Kenneth Gooselin, does include one caveat:

“The payback is very long,” Miller said. “You do this because it is the right thing to do.”

Other than that paean to the satisfaction of forcing other people to pay for your environmental do-goodism, reporter Gooselin has produced a puff piece – entirely to be expected from a college grad these days, where critical thought is disparaged and toeing the establishment line is mandatory.

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They took this lesson from San Francisco

Iran bans Barbie Dolls, Frisco bans Happy meals. Same principle: you don’t like something, it’s not enough that you keep it away from you and your children, you stop everyone from using, eating, smoking or even tanning it. I don’t know Iran’s position on abortion, but out in the looniest city in our nation (well, there is Santa Monica) the only part of a human’s body that’s exempt from governmental control and regulation is the womb. Go figure.

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And speaking of fraud, how come a law student can figure out what the bright minds on Wall Street won’t admit?

Dunce class for bankers

Ashvin Pandurangi: “Don’t be fooled: nothing is ‘Priced In”. Like the author, I’ve watched in astonishment as the bad economic news from around the world piles up and equity and debt markets keep climbing. What exactly do the guys on Wall Street see that isn’t obvious to the naked eye? Hungary’s going down and will bring the Austrian banking system with it, Spain and Italy and France are doomed, China’s living in the biggest bubble in history and the United States is gearing up to bring back Obummer for four more years while Congress prepares “Reasonable Profits Panels”. This is crazy.

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But Obummer’s already SOLVED this problem, dummy

When you're walking, your mpg is unlimited

Average age of a U.S. car is now 10.8 years. But the Messiah’s “green plan” fixes this – his new 55 mpg CAFE standard will raise the price of a new car $4,000 (others say $8,000) and so everyone will rush out to buy them and that, in turn will produce millions and millions of jobs. You don’t understand that simple logic, you must be a Republican and a fascist.

Related: When will Obama abandon his “Green” economic nightmare? Millions of jobs promised, none produced, unless you count the 2.7 million jobs he claims he’s created, as announced yesterday at Disney World. No one else does, but that won’t stop the illusion.

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Is homeownership a fraud?

That’s what this guy says and he provides a libertarian perspective on what to do about it.

The only long-term durable solution to the unreal estate mess is to cease  further securitization by agencies and shut them down.

It’s time to  concede that “homeownership” is a fraud.
When there is $16 trillion in  mortgage and consumer debt outstanding and an estimated $16 trillion in  residential unreal estate value, with the risk of another 20% decline in prices,  there is no “ownership”.

Rather, virtually everyone with a mortgage is  renting debt-money from a lender and leasing the land from a local taxing  authority. The mortgagees have a “dead pledge” in the value of the debt owed,  not an “asset”. The lenders and taxing authorities are the “owners” of a lien (a  bond or constraint on the real property), which entitles them to income in the  form of compounding interest and tax receipts in perpetuity.

Unreal  estate is the best investment for lenders and taxing authorities, not  dead-pledgers.

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Skullduggery on the diamonds

Annual meeting of the Greenwich Athletic Association

The town  has cut off all ties with the Greenwich Athletic Association, the “non-profit” organization that’s supposed to run adult baseball leagues and improve ball fields here, for financial improprieties. The treasurer, “Anthony Ferraro of Cos Cob” paid himself a salary that was not reported on the organization’s tax returns and was the sole individual responsible for writing checks, balancing the books and all that.

Hmm. “Cos Cob”. Coincidence? Maybe not – the lack of snow this winter and subsequent dearth of snowplow jobs has hit hard in that section of town, and a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Reached for comment by FWIW, Greenwich Recreation Director Pete Mandras was diplomatic:

“Look, this investigation has just started,” he explained, “and there’s still lots we don’t know. For instance, this ‘Miss Kami Sutra’ might actually be a typist at their headquarters like they say, but we’d like to see a 1099 for her. And those trips to the Cayman Islands? Heck, maybe they guy was carrying campaign contributions down to Romney.

” Yeah, he lives in Cos Cob so that gives us pause, but we’d be really concerned if he was up on Round Hill Road or even Doubling. So like I said, we’re just started here. But,” he warned, “this guy Ferraro is married to a Chimblo, so there’s that.”

(OK, I made all that up, but if Greenwich Time won’t bring us the juicy bits, someone has to invent this stuff. Writing a local blog is hard work!)

UPDATE: someone asked if this Anthony Ferraro also runs the Riverside Gators football league. Yes he does. I have no idea what significance that has, if any, but maybe it explains the new Escalade in the Ferraro driveway.

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