Daily Archives: June 2, 2006

I’ve noticed that builders of many of the new, hugely expensive houses popping up like mushrooms spend a fortune on the exterior: cedar roofs, copper gutters, etc. and then ruin the effect by venting fireplaces and dryers with cheap aluminum pipes stuck through the side. It looks like hell, so I checked with Old Greenwich’s Jan Ivarsson, my source of knowledge for everything involving high-end houses to see if there are alternatives. He assures me that there are, including more attractive and expensive vents, and designing a chimney ahead of time to incorporate a pocket to shelter (and hide) the now mandatory outside air source. Jan points out that appliances are usually the last things to arrive at a new house and the vents are often an after-thought, which explains why so many end up protruding at eye level, right next to the front door. Dumb. A good architect and a good builder will think things through before ever starting construction.

Bidding Wars
They’re still going on, despite what you read in the New York Times. And houses continue to sell: in Old Greenwich alone, four houses in the $3,500,000 – $4,000,000 range went to contract recently. Many buyers are certain that, these days, they’re the only ones interested in a house and they refuse to feel any sense of urgency. That’s fine, and entirely justified when dealing with an overpriced property. But, priced well, houses are attracting multiple bids, so listen to your Realtor. And if you don’t trust her advice, what are you doing with her?

On the other hand, our housing inventory continues to build. Single family homes are up 14% from this time a year ago, condominiums 54% (both numbers courtesy of Bob Fossum, Shore & Country). What this tells me and should tell you is that this is not the time to try for a record price. There are plenty of choices for buyers out there and if your house isn’t offering good value for the dollar, those buyers will go elsewhere.

Overlooked on Oval?
When Rick Loh first listed 22 Oval Avenue in Riverside for $2,195,000 I thought it was a good price for a great house and said so in this column. My powers of persuasion aren’t much, obviously, because the house is still available and is now priced at $1,895,000. This is a funny business – some houses that we agents love can sit, ignored, while dreadful, overpriced (in our opinion) monstrosities get snapped up instantly. The marketplace dictates what happens out there rather than any one agent’s opinion, but here’s my recommendation again. This is a wonderful house, built in 1926 and renovated in 1999. Nine-foot ceilings, very nice back yard, on a great street within easy walking distance to the train, Eastern and Riverside School. I don’t know of anything as nice in its price range.

Risk Aversion
I see that our Selectmen have repealed the 1957 ordinance that offered a $1.00 fine for parking tickets paid within 24 hours. It was fun while it lasted, but I suppose the repeal makes sense. I noticed that when doing a quick risk/benefit analysis at parking meters last week the reduction of the possible penalty from fifteen dollars to a measly buck resulted in my quarter remaining stuck in my pocket. That’s no way to run a railroad.

Not In My Name
(Readers who become infuriated when I diverge from real estate should skip this paragraph) Richard Blumenthal seems to think that the best way to become Senator is to oppose every attempt to bring energy to this region. As the official legal representative of this state he has blocked, repeatedly, cross-Sound electrical cables, a LNG terminal and a natural gas pipeline. His latest effort, an injunction against the natural gas pipeline, was denied by a federal judge two weeks ago. Coincidentally, on that same day Connecticut’s National Public Radio station aired a story about impending blackouts this summer. I sail, fish and even swim in Long Island Sound, and support any reasonable plan to clean it up and keep it clean; I also live and work in this state and want to see it prosper. I don’t see an incompatibility in those goals but our Attorney General does. We’ll see what happens, but Connecticut already has one of the lowest growth rates among the fifty states, one of the highest costs to do business in and some of the most expensive energy. A proponent of those policies doesn’t seem like a good candidate for higher office, to me.

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