26 Stag Lane
I had a chance to tour Rick Harris’s new construction project recently and was quite impressed (Rick is the son of our long-term Town Clerk, Mike, and is very much not to be confused with the other builder with a similar name, Richard Harris). Rick obviously takes pride in his craftsmanship, as he should. Everything about this house smacks of top of the line quality: the 80 year roof, Brazilian cherry floors, wall finishes, mechanicals, including a German furnace which is one of the most efficient furnaces on the market, beautiful trim work and moldings, and so forth. While it is more fun to write about badly made houses, it’s far more gratifying to spotlight excellent builders and their work, so I am happy to point this one out.
Speaking of efficient furnaces, the price of fuel is skyrocketing and heating our homes this winter is going to be an (ever more) expensive proposition. You can ease the pain quite a bit by installing a new, efficient furnace and a better hot water heater-either constant demand or super insulated. The trouble is if, like me, you don’t think about your water heater or furnace until it breaks, you’ll have no time to research or order the best system; when the water heater is leaking across your basement floor you want your plumber (Mat Falco, in Old Greenwich, by the way, is a great one) to come out that morning and replace it. Which, if you’re lucky or if you call Mr.Falco and his sons, they will. But the replacement will be what’s called in the trade as “on the truck” – whatever is in stock, not necessarily the most efficient product available. If you have an aging furnace or water heater (15-20 and 10 year life expectancies, respectively) you might want to address it this fall before you need instant action. You could lose a few years of useful life on the thing but a really efficient heater will quickly pay you back.
The Sky is Falling?
About three weeks ago, the New York Times claimed that the housing market was doomed because the ratio of rents vs. buying price was so skewed. As I understood the argument, rents were so low that it made far more sense to rent rather than buy and that meant that the bubble was about to pop. So last week, the Times ran another article, this time on the front page, stating that rental prices were rising. Their conclusion? “Evidence that housing boom is ebbing.” I realize that no one at the Times actually reads the damn thing and I understand the Times’ fierce determination to bring down the housing market (and anything else they can grab on to) but really, if they think that declining rents and rising rents both mean the end of the world is near (“women, minorities hardest hit”) then perhaps we should interpret their economic reporting for what it is: “all the bad news we can dream up”. Consistency may well be the hobgoblin of little minds but self-contradictory conclusions are evidence of no mind at all.
Every experienced agent knows never to let his buyer/clients go away on summer vacation before they’ve bought something but I did just that this month and, sure enough, the couple fell in love with a lake house and decided to buy it instead of a larger house here in town. So much for them.
In fact, speaking as a fellow parent and a friend, I urged them to go for it. Some of my very best childhood memories were formed at my family’s house in Ogunquit Maine. There’s something wonderful about returning to the same house each summer, hitting the same sleazy attractions – in our case, the York Animal Farm – the same restaurants, fishing spots, and so on. I loved Ogunquit and I’m sure my friends’ kids will love their new home. As I’ve just packed my youngest child off to college, I can attest that what seems like all the time in the world is quite short. Choosing between a larger house here in Greenwich or a place to create indelible memories? No choice at all, in my opinion.
A friend just returned from Nantucket with a tale of woe about getting her Lexus SUV stuck during an off-road adventure. I am (just barely) enough of a gentleman to have refrained from saying to her face, “well, duh!” but saying that in print’s another matter: These vehicles are the motor vehicle industry’s version of a Potemkin Village and are designed solely to siphon money from Americans and transfer it to those 7000 Saudi princes and their retinue. Leave the pavement at your peril.