Daily Archives: February 9, 2007

No More Cops?
I’ll be sorry to see the patrolmen directing Greenwich Avenue traffic disappear, but the logic of such a move seems compelling. Unlike thirty years ago, when the Avenue rolled up its sidewalks at sunset, the new restaurants there now produce almost as much traffic after dark as they do during they day, yet the patrolmen quit at 5 (or so), and then there’s no control at all. And while it’s true that an occasional crime has been thwarted by one of these men and women, even more have gone unnoticed. Remember the guy who cut the window out of Betteridge’s while working fifty feet from a manned intersection? The robbers of Putnam Trust who, having pulled that heist off and in the face of an all-points bulletin, continued down the Avenue to duplicate their crime at People’s? The police say they’d be more effective walking the sidewalks and Jim Lash says we’d save money. It’s probably time to listen to them, even if we’ll all miss those white gloves.

What Are Our Builders Up To?
When I recently suggested to another agent that, unlike Naples, Florida, whose housing market is collapsing, Greenwich doesn’t have speculators, she reminded me that we do: they’re called builders. Some recent open house tours made me appreciate her insight. These guys are building on ever-more-marginal lots: swampland, back lots and rocky little outcrops and pricing their creations at ever-higher levels. I’m not at all sure that there are buyers out there willing to pay $6,000,000, or more, for a mosquito- infested yard, even if the accompanying house comes complete with all the latest and most expensive French appliances. Of course, if the buyers come from the City, perhaps they won’t know about the relationship between swamps and insects. Sell ‘em in the winter, is my advice. (By the way, speaking of the French, did you see the recent article on “Google bombs”, whereby someone with too much time on his hands creates a Google search result with er, an unexpected answer? “George Bush” yields “miserable failure” or did until Google stepped in, and “French military victories” still comes up with, “no such documents meet your search criteria”. Hoo hoo hoo).

Belle Haven
David Ogilvy has just listed 31 Bush Avenue, a six bedroom, 1890 house on almost an acre, with pool. I toured it after a long day of seeing some of those new monstrosities I write about above and told David that it served as a palate-cleanser, which it does. This is what a house should feel like, in my admittedly idiosyncratic opinion. Great, flowing rooms that can accommodate anyone’s entertaining needs and yet still serve as a wonderful family home. There’s lots of old paneling, human-sized ceiling heights, and it’s nicely renovated throughout. I’m not as enthusiastic about its price of $8,850,000 but that is very much just my opinion, and not fact; besides, if you’ve climbed far enough to afford Belle Haven, surely you’ve acquired some negotiating skills along the way. A very, very nice house.

You’ve Received an Offer – Now What?
In what seems to be a rejuvenated market a number of sellers are receiving and accepting offers almost as soon as their house is listed. It can be an agonizing decision – hold on for something better or seal the deal? There’s no one answer, appropriate for every seller and every house but I think there are more would-be sellers who regret turning down an initial offer than there are those who think they sold too soon. Often, after that first offer is declined, another buyer won’t come along for months and usually at a lower price. Hurts.

But accepting an offer doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop showing your house. I’ve been surprised recently to see several houses, with impressive price tags, stop showings within days of being listed. It may be jealousy speaking (I’d have liked to have had a chance to try to sell them to my own clients) but, in my experience, so many things can go wrong between accepting an offer and entering into a signed, contingent-free contract that it seems foolish to pull your house off the market so quickly. Remember that, until a real estate contract has been fully executed by both parties, all the promises and good faith in the world can’t compel the buyer or seller to perform. It’s good to have a back-up.

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