Daily Archives: May 27, 2005

May 27

Wrong (again!)

I received a thoughtful communication from Natalie Jarnstadt regarding my
support of killing geese. Ms. Jarnstadt, correctly assuming that my
objection to the fowl was based on my disgust at wading through their
droppings, suggested that the answer lies in a “pooper sweeper” (check my
web site for a link to description and picture). She and her husband have
volunteered to give one to the town. For some reason, that offer has been
rejected, and I’m not sure why. The geese themselves aren’t the problem,
it’s what they leave behind. If the park crews who mow the lawns can also
keep those lawns reasonably clean, everybody, including the geese, could
win.

Hot Hot Hot?

Another newspaper’s real estate writer keeps saying the Greenwich real
estate market is booming. I disagree, especially when you compare spring
market to spring market, rather than twelve months to twelve months. I have
analyzed the sales and contracts for the period January 1-May 18th in 2004
and 2005, respectively. While what passes for the lower end of the market:
$2,000,000-$4,000,000 is perking along at about last year’s pace (one
hundred this year, ninety-seven last) things fall apart after that.

In the 2004 spring market, twenty-eight houses between $5,000,000 and
$7,500,000 found buyers. Only sixteen did so this year – a mere 57% of last
year’s activity. There are sixty-seven houses currently for sale in that
price range and I expect many of the new homes still under construction will
further bloat the inventory.

The high end of the market (above $7,500,000) is faring a bit better this
year than last (eleven vs. eight) but there are sixty-nine such houses still
for sale. If we’re selling off eleven houses each quarter it will take at
least a year and a half to move all these and longer if more come to market.

So if your house is not selling, don’t blame your agent for not performing
in such a “hot” market. There is a lot of competing inventory out there and
not a whole lot of activity. On the other hand, it’s a good time to be a
buyer.

Americana

Do not miss the last vestige of small-town-America in Greenwich, the
Memorial Day parade down Sound Beach Avenue. Little League marchers, Cub
Scouts and Brownies and war veterans, all to the accompaniment of bands. I
hear that our WWII vets are getting a bit long in the tooth for the march
and that this year they’ll ride in classic cars donated for the occasion by
Malcolm Pray. The perfect time to catch up with all those acquaintances for
whom a once-a-year conversation is just about right.

Time Capsule

Speaking of WWII, my daughter Sarah recently unearthed a cache of newspapers
from 1933. Fascinating. Roosevelt had just reopened the banks after the
seven day “Bank Holiday” and depositors were returning with their cash. Beer
(but not yet hard liquor) was returning. My grandfather, John Gilbert, was
appearing with Mae Clark in a movie I never heard of, “Fast Workers”. Of
more interest to adolescents, perhaps, was another film, “King of the
Jungle” that promised ” a naked giant of the jungle loose in New York! He
takes love where he finds it!” I’ll look for that one on video.

Overseas, the Nazis had just won power and banned the old flag of republican
Germany in favor of the pre-war, Imperial flag and the swastika. President
Paul von Hindenburg appointed Dr. Joseph Goebels Minister of Public
Enlightenment and Propaganda. Babe Ruth was “considering” a salary offer of
$55,000 (for perspective, a top of the line Chevrolet is advertised for
$485), Westchester County was being threatened with a barrage of lawsuits if
it persisted in barring “colored people” from Playland and a nine-room brick
colonial with a slate roof and a half-acre yard in White Plains was being
offered by its owner for $26,000. I hope he got it; the classifieds are
mostly advertisements for court-ordered foreclosure sales.

All of which makes me sound like Bernie Yudain (heck he probably wrote half
the stories) but I found it an interesting snapshot of history.

Not in White Plains

And for a bit more than $26,000, even adjusting for inflation, Heather Platt
(Cleveland, Duble & Arnold) has a pretty nifty listing at 535 North Street
for the rather impressive price of $16,500,000. A grand old 1908 mansion set
of five-and-a-half acres (in the two acre zone) of gorgeous lawns and
gardens, the place was completely renovated in 2000. Absolutely top quality
throughout, it would be a fun place to live. It won’t be shown without a
buyer’s pre-qualification, alas, so I’m unlikely to be invited back.

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