Daily Archives: February 6, 2012

Former P&Z member Laura Siefert wants her friends’ help

If I said it, I didn't mean it

Riverside resident Laura Siefert is back again before her former colleagues to ask permission to carve up a swamp in Riverside and allow her to cram three houses in where there is now one. I don’t suppose membership on P&Z should bar you forever from despoiling a neighborhood you’re planning to vacate, but shouldn’t everyone on the Commission recuse themselves? Anyone who ever suffered from this lady’s antipathy towards building, any building at all, and that would include anyone who appeared before the P&Z during the past twenty years, should show up, armed with tomatoes.

The owner of a lot at 34 Crescent Road is also due to appear tomorrow night, seeking to divide a 30,000 sq. ft. lot into two. I don’t know the particulars but if builders weren’t so short sighted they’d realize that there’s more money building one house on a largish lot in crowded Riverside than there is shoehorning in two. But greed rarely allows room for vision.

UPDATE: Reader Dogwalker has corrected my math on this and I’m wrong – the most profitable use is two houses on postage stamp yards because, as Dogwalker pints out, buyers from NYC don’t really care, for the most part, that they’ll be living cheek-by-jowl with their neighbors. Gentlemen, start your engines.

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Foreshadowing

 

Off to nutrition class

Florida legislator introduces bill to bar food stamp users from buying sweets and requiring them to take classes on nutrition. “Poor folk are just too stupid and ignorant to know what to eat”, seems to be her argument and, with the exception of the term “poor folk”,, how is this different from what’s going on around our country to all of us?

We’ve seen bans on McDonald’s, trans-fats, junk food, soda, cigarettes, mandatory helmet laws for skiers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, seat belt laws, etc. etc., all justified by a theory that, because we live here, we owe an obligation to our fellow citizens not to die prematurely and thus increase health care costs. Of course, if all these laws were effective (they aren’t) that would just mean that we’ll all live long enough to drain Social Security and develop Alzheimer’s, which will send health care costs to the moon.

But, just as dictates as to what light bulbs we use, cars we drive and how to dispose of our garbage, these are all about control, not actual efficacy.

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And they all work for the State of Connecticut Department of Welfare

state employees on fact finding trip to Uncasville

Food stamp fraud costing $750 million per year. That’s just the obnoxiously visible stuff.

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Jordan Saper strikes again

Fake clouds optional, as are the fake fires in the fireplaces

He’s sold his new construction at 38 Langhorne Lane for $6.450 million. He was asking $7.350 million but this is still a big sale with, I would guess, plenty of profit in it. The man clearly has his pulse on the new buyer market because his houses (and it’s really just one house, stamped out all over town) sell quickly, for excellent prices and then resell to new buyers. As I’ve noted here before, this is not a design I appreciate but Saper isn’t building for me, a jerk-off real estate agent who couldn’t possibly afford one of his creations, he’s building to a specific target, and he’s nailed it.

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Off to show houses.

Not in the $13 million range, thank goodness – I’d like to sell something. More later.

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Uh huh

Two more expired listings have come back on today, both priced at or above $13 million. With 75 listings in the $13 and up set and six selling each year, that’s about 15 1/2 years before these all sell off. And that’s assuming no more come on before 1228. Are these people deluded or blinded by ego? I’d guess both.

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It’s not the agent, you moron

HO scale

The builder of some construction at 42 Bote Road (off Stanwich, barely across the Cos Cob border) couldn’t sell his house for $3.950 despite his refusing to budge on its asking price. So he’s fired his old agent and hired a new one but kept the price unchanged. This despite the fact that no new construction on Bote or its adjoining street, Towney, has ever sold for anything close to what this one wants. Bote’s highest: $2.8 millionm, in 2006,Tomney, $3.1 million, also in 2006. Hope may spring eternal, but not in this market.

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Know any good doctors?

Piss off

My siblings took my mother off to Stamford Hospital to be evaluated by that institution’s neurologist and “stroke expert”, one Dr. Evangelos Xistris. Their unanimous report was that the guy couldn’t have cared less and was uninterested, cold and absolutely useless in either offering a prognosis or advising on her care. My sister had stayed over (she’s been here from California, helping out) and one brother skipped work and came out from NYC for this long-awaited appointment, so they were less than impressed by the doctor’s attitude.

And we disturbed and angered my very confused mother by dragging her from familiar surroundings to visit with this man – in all, an unhappy set of campers here in Riverside. Any suggestions?

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Mush from a New Canaan real estate agent

From Teri Buhl, who obviously has a strong stomach if she can read this nonsense: Everything is beautiful in New Canaan home sales.

Number of sales, up, average sales price up, median price up, no shadow inventory because foreclosures are down and rentals are booming.

But compared to what? This guy’s own Zillow-supplied charts show the real truth.

And if you want to talk about “absorption rate is falling”, shouldn’t you mention that new listings have fallen by 31%? If I mop up 1/3 of a puddle of spilled milk and then attack the remainder with a Bounty paper towel, I bet the absorption time would also drop considerably. What an insight.

While we’re at it, if that foreclosure rate has dropped off (attributed by everyone except this guy to the shutdown of the process after fraudulent paperwork was disclosed), then how does he explain the great increase in rentals? Like this, which contradicts everything he’s just said:

The rental market has improved. The absorption rate for rentals has dropped from 7.4 months to 4.1 months. That is how long the current inventory of properties would last at the current rate of sales. The number of rentals closed in 2011 increased 16.5 percent to 120 from 103. And, while the average rental price has increased 40 percent to $3,550, the median rental price has increased 162 percent to $4,200. The rental market tells us a good deal about the broader market. The reduction in the rental inventory and higher rental rates is due to the following factors:

  1. Owners losing their homes due to foreclosure and short sales can only rent.
  2. Tough lender qualification requirements, causing fewer buyers and more renters.
  3. Many have lost their equity in real estate and stock market = no down payment to purchase.
  4. Many have damaged their credit and will not qualify to purchase.
  5. Many have lost their job and are not able to get a loan.

The

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And the marginal houses continue to get hammered

1100 Lake Avenue, so far north that it comes with reindeer and holding just two acres in the four-acre zone, has an accepted offer based on its last listing price of $1.595 million. Assuming the normal whack down a house price suffers after 508 days on the market, it’s a reasonable guess that this one is going to sell at or around its 1999 price of $1.487. If we’re falling to 1999 prices on the less desirable homes, can the prices of better locations stabilize?

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Lucas Oil

Forrest Lucas

So I got curious about who the Lucas was behind Lucas Oil Stadium, where that soccer game was held last night (I’m not alone in my curiosity, apparently – “experts” estimate the company got $30 – $40 million in media exposure from the show). Turns out, the founder, 69-year-old Forrest Lucas, is pretty much the all-American success story, starting as a trucker, never going to college (there’s a lesson there, children) and going on to build a very large automotive lubricants business. Pretty neat story, and you can read it here.

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Great picture, great price, no sale? What could the matter be?

11 Flower Lane

11 Flower Lane started at $2.7 million in 2008 but inexplicably failed to sell. It’s back with a new agent, this time with a new broker who, one hopes, will have a better camera.

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2006 Pricing – enough?

78 Zaccheus Mead

78 Zaccheus Mead Lane sold for $13 million in 2006 and is back up today for the same price. That might do it because the very, very rich don’t seem to be bothered by the current economic dislocation. And of course, there are all those people who now have jobs thanks to Obama.

On the other hand, if I were in a buying mood, I think I’d prefer 27 Oakley, at the bargain price of just $10.750 million, but I’ve always been a sucker for older houses. Interesting, I was just thinking that what we need today are a couple more $10 million plus homes to add to our existing inventory of 45 houses in that category. With nine sales last year, we have only a five-year supply and I’m getting nervous we’ll run out.

By the way, did you know that there was no market – zero – for the $8 -$9 million category last year? Three that asked that much (including 26 Twin Lakes, that had originally asked $15 million) did sell, but way below the ask. Twin Lakes, for instance, sold for $6.6.

27 Oakley

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Jesus hates you, this I know, ’cause the Bible tells me so

Your teachers are out grubbing for food, but they'll be back, I think.

State Representative Nebuchadnezzar (well actually, Shadrach, but same story) McGill insists that the Bible forbids doubling teachers’ salaries because then the profession won’t attract those “with a calling” to teach. I’m all for that, of course, but wouldn’t eliminating their pay entirely produce even more beneficial results?

Mr. McGill, by the way, supports raising legislators’ own pay 67% because that will make them less susceptible to bribery.

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Interesting Monday coming up

Creditors at the gate

Greece hours away from default.

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Will a new name save this house?

The better to eat you with!

961 North Street has failed to sell every time it’s been listed for sale, beginning in 2002 at $7.995 million and ending in 2006 at $6.995. Now, after a six-year layoff, it’s back again with an all-time low price of $5.695 and has been christened “Deertick Manor” (or something like that). The new listing boasts that it “abuts Conyers Farm” but unlike hand grenades, close doesn’t count. Besides, no mention is made of anything having been done to this place in the past decade so, other than being older, what’s to like about a house this far north in the hinterlands? It’s got a Westchester appearance though, so maybe it will find a buyer from across the border.

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But does she have a beach pass to Tod’s?

Happier days with the Sinowoys

Reader Magio writes:

Speaking of Weasels, I believe Ruth Madoff is hiding out at her son’s home on Tomac and Kernan Place in Old Greenwich.  I spotted a black Honda civic with Florida plates – this house has been empty for years and only recently did I notice someone living there.

UPDATE: Yup, she’s here. Check the readers’ comments – too many people who live in Old Greenwich have spotted her for this not to be true. Although I doubt she looks as she did in the photo above. forty years and recent ah, stress have aged her a bit.

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Question asked, question answered

Why has the collapse of communism had so little  [I'd say no - Ed] affect on political discussion?

[I]n our everyday politics, we still seem to be unable to make up our minds about the moral superiority of the free market. We are still ambivalent about the value of competition, which remains a dirty word when applied, for example, to health care. We continue to long for some utopian formula that will rule out the possibility of inequalities of wealth, or even of social advantages such as intelligence and personal confidence.

The idea that no system – not even a totalitarian one – could ensure such a total eradication of “unfairness” without eliminating the distinguishing traits of individual human beings was one of the lessons learnt by the Soviet experiment. The attempt to abolish unfairness based on class was replaced by corruption and a new hierarchy based on party status. If the European intellectual elite had not been so compromised by its own broad acceptance of collectivist beliefs, maybe we would have had a genuine, far-reaching re-appraisal of the entire ideological framework.

I think a very partial answer to the question Ms. Daley poses is that leftism has never been based on idealism. It has always been based, for the most part, on hate and envy. [emphasis added] So when Communism was conclusively proved to be a failure, leftists (including not only leftists in politics, but more important, leftists in the media and in academia) didn’t change their minds or admit their mistake. For in their eyes, while there may have been disappointment, there was no mistake. Their resentments and hatreds remained. They merely sought other vehicles, other terminologies, other tactics to bring down the West and the free enterprise system and democratic institutions that define it. Yesterday’s socialists are today’s progressives. They barely missed a beat.

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