Daily Archives: October 21, 2005

Eastern Building Glut?

Out of curiosity, I checked the number of new houses built this year and currently for sale in Riverside and Old Greenwich. Turns out there are fifteen, ranging in price from $1,894,500 (north of the Post Road) to $4,950,000 (Club Road). The Riverside/Old Greenwich market has already absorbed (sold or under contract) fifteen new houses this year with several more, I hear, close to contract. I think builders in the eastern end of town can still feel confident that their projects will find buyers.

Ignorance is Not Bliss
I encountered yet another agent the other day who was surprised to learn that our town is divided into different classes of zones, each with different lot size requirements. The concept of allowable F.A.R., and that its calculation depended on lot size, were also beyond her ken. Never has my maxim that there are no barriers to entry in this business been more vividly illustrated. Look: you are certainly free to go house hunting with your neighbor with the newly-minted real estate license; her kids go on play dates with yours, it’s nice to avoid awkward situations, and she’s probably got great experience as a yoga instructor, but do try to determine whether she also has at least a basic understanding of real estate. Otherwise, you could end up with an under-sized lot with a F.A.R. that won’t let you add a friggin’ tool shed. You may also acquire a viable malpractice suit, but that’s small consolation. If your neighbor/friend insists that you use her services, ask her whether she’s ever sold a house other than her own – that should eliminate half the agents in town. Ask her how many square feet are in an acre (43,560, the average amount of land one man could plow in a day, awhile back- a bovate, on the other hand, is the amount an ox could plow in a year. You’d have to go to Conyer’s Farm to use that measurement). If she passes those tests, ask her to obtain a copy of your plot plan and calculate your property’s FAR. If she manages to return from Town Hall, plan in hand, hire her.

Sandy Shaw

Or you could skip all that nonsense and just use someone like Sandy. An unexpected bonus of moving up the street to this firm is that I get to work with this lady. She seems like she’d be useful in a bar fight, broken beer bottle in hand, covering my back but the only side of her I see is a very funny person with tons of knowledge. She gives me great advice, all the time, and I’m sure she does the same for her clients (and, having profited from her counsel, have I fed her a portion of my commissions in gratitude? Nah, all she gets is this in-print version of a cheap Tee shirt). So far as I know she no longer has children of an age suitable for play dates nor did she teach yoga but if you can overlook those deficiencies, you couldn’t work with a better agent.

Sam and Silo Strike Again
In 1936 (or so) our police chief insisted that the death of a gas station owner was a suicide. He changed that opinion to “murder by an unknown person” after an intrepid local reporter got a hold of the autopsy report and thought to ask how someone could shoot himself in the back seven times with a six-shot revolver. Martha Moxley’s murder was finally solved (or not) by the State Police, not our locals and Matthew Margolis’s murderer remains at large. Observing this sorry trail of ineptitude our state legislature has taken pity and enacted a law creating a crime that even our force can solve: the hands-free cellphone act. Our police are loving it.
After a full day of instruction learning what a cell phone looks like and where on the head the human ear is located our gendarmes rushed out to the street and issued dozens of tickets. “It’s not nearly as difficult as we feared,” gushed a sergeant from the traffic division. “Turns out, the ear is pink and cell phones are silver or black – who knew? – so pow! We’re busting folks right and left.” One poor soul had purchased the now mandatory handsfree gear and showed it to her arresting officer, begging for a warning instead of a ticket. “No way,” the sergeant recounts. “Our guy popped her upside the head a few times for her temerity and issued the summons. If we observe a crime being committed we have a duty to this town to stomp on it, hard. Besides, its fun to finally be able to arrest criminals, eh?”

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