29 Stanwich Drive
Renee Gallagher (Round Hill Partners) has just listed this house for $4,450,000. A great old house (1918) with high ceilings and very nicely renovated. It’s close to town but I think its best feature is its setting on 1.24 acres in an R-12 zone. It’s getting harder and harder to find a decent yard these days and, while I acknowledge that most kids are too busy with organized sports and Nintendo to actually play outdoors in their own yard, it’s nice to be able to offer that opportunity. Great house and, in my opinion, good price.
Poisoning our Minds
Did you see the story recently where some hapless homeowner dropped a rectal thermometer and spilled an 1/8 of a tsp of mercury on his floor? More than one hundred emergency workers responded, evacuated the family, donned space suits and cleaned up the mess, presumably using a single Kleenex. My former wife Nancy, a doctor’s daughter used to play with this stuff – rolling it into little balls, running it down inclines, etc., and so did the Fountain boys. Nancy turned out just fine, with no mutations, so the odds are pretty good that the substance is as harmless as most non-alarmists claim (we Fountain boys had other issues). I blame main stream media for collectively instilling an irrational fear in our minds of any number of toxic poisons du jour. Dan Rather, commenting on a teaspoon of dioxin spilling from a train wreck some years back looked solemnly into the camera and proclaimed, “Dioxin, of course, is the deadliest chemical known to man”. It’s the “of course” that slayed me – he was dead wrong, but anyone who disagreed was a no-nothing moron. These same people have taught us to fear urea-formaldehyde insulation, mildew, radon, asbestos, underground oil tanks, child abductions, and on and on. I think it’s time to get a grip.
Threat to Greenwich Real Estate Prices?
Okay, probably just a distant threat, but my less-than-favorite Senator, Chuck Schumer, has teamed with my favorite mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to release a report that the U.S.’s position as the world’s financial center is at risk because of the onerous effect of our strict immigration laws (prevents firms from hiring talented experts), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (the post-Enron “reforms” that impose huge, costly accounting requirements on all companies) and a securities litigation explosion (no explanation necessary). Just as there is no longer a need for financial firms to be stuck in Wall Street’s canyons, hedge funds IPOs and other consumers of capital are free to roam the world for accommodating places to do business. I’m not advocating eliminating all regulation of our financial industry but the report’s statistics are frightening: in 2002 (these figures are all quoted from the New York Times) London hosted 3 of the largest 50 hedge funds and now has 12. New York dropped from 28 to 18, while Connecticut (Greenwich and Stamford, really) grew from 6 to 8. The U.S. controlled 16% of the global stock-offering volume last year compared to 57% in 2001, while Europe’s share has grown from 33% to 63%. Hong Kong and other Asian markets are seeing similar growth. Between 2002 and 2005, London’s financial work force grew by 4.7% while New York City shrunk by 0.7%. The two cities are now just about equal in financial service jobs: 318,000 in London, 328,000 in NYC.
While it’s true that Wall Street had a great year in 2006 and its profits are higher than ever, much of those profits were earned overseas. Greenwich real estate prices depend heavily on a robust Wall Street and if the combination of harsh national laws and increased Connecticut taxes (which are being touted in Hartford as I write) make it more convenient to do business elsewhere, the capital, and the financial industry, will move. That may please some of my liberal friends who’ll respond, “good riddance”, but it won’t help you sell your house.
Put your house on the market in September for $8,995,000 and it doesn’t sell. Response? Raise its price to $9,995,000. That’ll teach ‘em. I’ve yet to see this tactic work.
Whole Foods is Hiring
And offering ten bucks an hour, plus benefits. We may finally see a drop in the number of licensed Realtors in this town.