Reading about Microsoft’s introduction of its own wannabe iPad today, I was struck by the notion that I’d seen Microsoft’s president Steve Ballmer in some movie long ago. Then I got it:
Daily Archives: June 18, 2012
North Carolina Democrats, fresh from banning gay marriage and readying themselves to host their party’s national convention a few weeks from now, are working on passing a resolution condemning Israel for “occupying” Palestine. They’ve already passed resolutions advocating the complete elimination of nuclear power, puppy mills and tides greater than two feet.
Their peers will feel right at home this August but I wonder what real people will think about all this?
A reader asked whether homeowners couldn’t list with me in addition to one of the Big Three to take advantage of my 12,000 daily readership and I said no, GAR listings are usually exclusive, but then as I wrote, I came up with this idea:
1. List with my firm for, say, a 3.5% commission, 1.5% less than the standard Greenwich gouge. That gives me 1% and allows me to offer a selling agent her standard 2.5% so there’d be no incentive not to sell your house (although agents are hungry enough that we could probably squeeze them down to 2% – they’d squawk all the way to the closing,but they’d do it).
2. For your fee, you’d get a listing/discussion/posting here and then permanent placement on a separate listing page until we sell the house. You would NOT get an advertisement in the Greenwich Time or one of its cheaper competitors/subsidiaries because those ads don’t work – trust me on this, if you ever found an honest broker he’d admit that they run the damn things, at great expense, to placate owners and to attract new buyers for the firm, rather than with an expectation that they’ll sell your particular house. You WOULD get placement on all the sites that draw automatic feeds from the Greenwich MLS, so that means the websites of all the other brokerage firms and Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, etc. Buyers find their houses on the Internet and sometimes their agents and you’d be as prominently exposed to those avenues as you would be listing with Sotheby’s.
3. You would get exposure to a world-wide audience of readers interested in Greenwich real estate in numbers that must have Sotheby’s and its twin frothing with jealousy, judging from their desperate attempts to destroy this blog. In short, I must be doing something right. The few firms that have tried this before failed because they had nothing to offer: they’d put you on the MLS and sit back, but had nothing with which to draw buyers. In all modesty, they didn’t have this blog and its readers. I’m not saying this model could be scaled up but for the only market I’m concerned with, Greenwich, I think it could work.
Comments? Business plan suggestions? You guys are the experts on that, I’m just a gadfly.
This comment, made before I had received my invitation to attend the police at their headquarters, suggests – in fact, proves, that the GAR put their employee up to filing her complaint with the intent not of seeking protection from a fictitious threat but rather to harass and intimidate me.
Hmm – malicious intent, conspiracy to destroy a business competitor, what else do we have here? Depositions, anyone? Maybe I can sell tickets.
Shortage of good land hampering builders. This WSJ article (bad link – I’ll supply it as soon as WSJ corrects the problem) concerns the lack of huge swaths of acreage for housing developments and the difficulty finding those acres in places where people actually you know, want to live, but you’ll see that same problem here. There’s land available, but it’s marginal: too far from town, on the wrong side of town/tracks/school district, etc., or the land itself is a collection of rocks and swamp. I’ve been working with several buyers who wanted to build new and not surprisingly, we’re mostly, although not exclusively focusing on teardowns for the simple reason that the best land was built on long ago.
306 Round Hill Road, an 1804 farmhouse on four acres and under the shadow of the Parkway has a fully executed contract. Priced at $2.999 in 2010, it was last seen pegged at $2.050. Zillow says it’s worth $1.997, so maybe Zillow’s right for once. I love old houses and I thought this one was exceptional, but personally, and to my taste, this sale’s value lies primarily in its testimony to the fact that, in Greenwich, every house is worth something to somebody. Not necessarily so in, say, Kansas.
Supreme Court says no to phony Indians and their casino. Michigan politicians invented a band of redskins just like Connecticut’s own Lowell Weiker, who created a make-believe Indian tribe so he could bring casinos to the state. It worked in Connecticut but maybe it won’t in Michigan. The US Supreme Court, 8-1, has reinstated a citizens lawsuit challenging the fictional tribe and their right to soak white gamblers.
34 Benenson Drive, $1 million. Contemporary straddling the Stamford Line (Greenwich schools), last asking price 261 days ago, and the number that will go down in our MLS “statistics” was $1.150, for a 87% sales-to-ask ratio.
In fact, this property first asked $1.750 back in 2006 and has been on the market for six-month intervals ever since, yielding, by my math, around 1,260 DOM and a 57% ratio.
7 Lakeview, in NoPo and miles from any real lake (and no view of the Mianus River, which some houses on this street afford), asked $989,000, got $900,000.
Old Greenwich Gables, (51 Forest Avenue), a one-bedroom condo, sold for $455,000 in 2000, when it was four-years-old, $500,000 in 2002 and $480,000 today.
4 Dogwood, up in what is now referred to as “formerly known as the Golden Triangle” sold for $2.2 million.
Mr. Mariani is known for his rapid building here in Greenwich, throwing a hundred workers on a project and completing a mansion in mere months, not years (Judge Judy’s palace on lower Round Hill Road being an example). But now comes word that a Chinese company intends to erect the world’s tallest building in just 90 days. Once up, will it stay up? I don’t know, but if Mariani goes missing for the next ninety-days we’ll know that he’s not facing competition, he is the competition.
240 Overlook Drive in Milbrook sold for $3.4 million (Gosh I hope my clients see this and wonder at my prescience). Sold for $3.825 in June, 2005, ton of money spent on renovations, asked $4.295: 79% ask-t0-sell ratio.
21 Mimosa Drive, Cos Cob land. $900,000, 866 DOM, asked $1.275, 70% ask-to-sell.
15 Ronald Lane, asking $599,000. “As is”.
21 Sound Beach Avenue, asking $745,000.
Years ago, a GAR member got me fired from the newspaper that ran my column by threatening to remove all his firms’ advertising (and wasn’t that a great demonstration of editorial backbone?). I moved over to the Internet and bumped my readership from a few thousand Greenwich residents once a week to a daily worldwide readership of 12,000, so I was grateful for the assistance.
Two weeks ago the GAR moved against this blog by threatening to sanction me for daring to link to its MLS data, and that prompted me to do what I’ve been too lazy to do before: I will have a work-around up within the next few weeks which will allow me to use all that data but will refer readers to my firm instead of to another GAR member. So thanks again.
But last week the GAR crossed the line and filed a complaint against me personally with the Greenwich Police, claiming that I was threatening the life of an employee; more particularly, posting about the new “Zombie Bullet”, a joke product, and my stating that,
Hornady introduces a zombie bullet. I’m off to the shooting range this morning where I intend to fire ordinary ammunition but I’ll be driving past the cave of the Evil GAR Princess so ….
The two detectives I spent an hour with last week were professional, courteous and almost apologetic but as they explained, a complaint of a very serious nature had been filed and they had no choice but to investigate. And I agree – I have no problem with detectives doing their job and indeed I’d expect them to do the same thing on my behalf had a threat been made against me. Of course I actually exist: the GAR Evil Princess is as imaginary as zombies, but that’s a quibble – the complainant withheld that crucial piece of information when speaking to the police.
I hold no special animus against the GAR employee who was apparently the complainant – employees do what they are told to do and clearly the woman was at the very least given permission to do what she did and more likely given both permission and encouragement.
So that leaves us with the Greenwich Association of Realtors itself, a monopoly run by and for the benefit of the small handful of brokerage firms here in town: Sotheby’s, Coldwell Banker, Prudential, Ogilvy and Associates and Greenwich Fine Properties (soon to be swallowed by Sotheby’s rumor has it). Them I don’t like, and their behavior is beyond the pale. Attacking my blog and trying to shut it down because I threaten the hegemony of these firms is just business – trying to destroy me as an individual, placing my name into police investigative files as a dangerous psychopath, that’s personal, and I’m pissed off.
So today I am filing a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department’s Anti-Trust division and our state’s Attorney General. That’s for starters. A private lawsuit against certain GAR members for defamation of character and tortious interference with my business? Depends on how much time I want to waste on pisant little people so desperately trying to hold back the tide, attempting to preserve a business model that became obsolete twenty years ago.
Transparency has arrived in the real estate market. Brokers no longer have a monopoly on information, and the sooner these individuals acknowledge and accept that, the sooner they can begin focusing on justifying their existence by providing service to buyers and sellers, rather than exploiting real estate customers’ (former) ignorance. They can take a lesson from their previous efforts to silence me, which only made me stronger. I’d suggest they re-watch “The Terminator” , but that would probably only generate another complaint filed with the police. Maybe I’ll just send each GAR owner a subscription to NetFlix and let them stumble upon the film themselves.
New federal mortgage bailout program will save homeowners $2.5 – $5 billion while awarding nation’s largest banks $12 billion. In another industry, this is called, I believe, “the vig”.
That is because the new HARP rules make it easier for borrowers to refinance their loans with existing lenders. That, the critics say, allows large lenders to charge a captive customer base above-market interest rates on the refinanced loans. Borrowers refinancing through their existing lender make up about 75% of HARP refinancings, according to government figures.
“There’s essentially a monopoly on refinancing,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said at a Senate hearing last month. For borrowers, Mr. Donovan said, “Whoever holds their current loan, whoever is the servicer, they can charge them—and we’re seeing this—very high fees.”
Weary from his exhausting two-week national fund raising tour with the stars, Obama relaxes by leaving his kids at home and going golfing with his adult male companions, for the 100th time.
UPDATE: Obama campaign chief David Axlerod: Playing golf while the economy’s tanking is “tasteless”, proves the president “is out of touch”.
He was referring to George Bush I, when unemployment was 6.1%.