Daily Archives: May 10, 2007

Local Produce
Some time back I wrote, in response to a silly politician claiming that only losers with no better opportunities joined the Army, of Old Greenwich’s own, 1st Lt. Stephanie Whittle, GHS 2000, who turned down Harvard in favor of attending West Point. I just received the following email from another of her fans and I thought I’d reprint it here:

“That (now) Captain Whittle you speak of is pretty darn incredible. I spent four years with her at West Point in awe of her brilliance and extraordinary world view. She has always been the one to go to for advice, encouragement, and help with anything. That is to say that Greenwich Connecticut sends some good ones out into the world, and I’m sure that’s enough endorsement to help those multi-million dollar properties sell themselves. –CM”

In fact, Greenwich has always turned out some pretty accomplished kids. I’m still amazed that my small Humanities course at the high school produced at least five published authors, including a Pulitzer Prize winner. Artists, musicians, investment bankers, too many lawyers (that would be any more than one), we have a talented pool of young people here and CM is right: people ought to be willing to buy in Greenwich just so their children can matriculate with winners. I single out Stephanie because she’s sacrificing potential financial gain and her personal safety just to serve her country. At a time of war and with Memorial Day approaching, it seems appropriate to give her an honorable mention.

Attention deficit disorder
I read that Sony is condensing a variety of truly awful 70’s shows like Charlie’s Angels to 3-4 minute episodes: the Angles meet, get instructions from Charlie, chase bad guy, catch bad guy, end of show. They intend to post these on the internet and expect to make a lot of money, which I’m sure they will. But besides illustrating just how little actual content was packed in the original 30 minute shows, I think this development has instructional value for homeowners: the younger generation buying homes has almost no patience; not for letting plots develop and not for renovation jobs. I’m speaking in broad generalities of course but I have noticed that “fixer-uppers” are increasingly a drag on the market. I recently listed a really charming cape in a great location. Although families have happily lived there since 1935, it could have used a new, expanded kitchen and a new master bedroom suite upstairs. Both those improvements could have been easily done but we received exactly zero expressions of interest from end-users and numerous bids from builders who were interested solely in the land it sat on. That’s an increasingly common phenomenon, I think. So, if you’re thinking about selling your older home, either consider doing needed renovations now, yourself, or resign yourself to selling for land value. The latter isn’t so bad, fortunately, because the price of good building lots keeps rising, while the value of a physically obsolete, dated house is falling.

But if you’re going to renovate …
Be careful – some houses just aren’t worth putting more money into. I’m aware of two houses, side by side on the same street that were priced within $200,000 of each other. One was a tear down, the other had a much better yard, a beautiful pool and a completely redone interior that, unfortunately, kept its original front-to-back split arrangement. The tear down was sold in days while the renovated house, at this writing, still sits because builders aren’t willing to pay extra for what they don’t need and, apparently, home buyers don’t want it either (their loss, in my opinion –it’s a nice house). So, before you commit to a big re-do job, you might want to pick the brains of a friendly Realtor.

Humor on the circuit
I thought I was being funny advertising a drawing for an Airbus 380 at my recent broker open house (no one wanted the rough sketch of a plane that I presented) but Andy Healy, of Surf &Turf Realty did me one better by requesting agents to “please remove shoes before entering”. Agents who showed up were confronted with a muddy, vacant lot. Well done, Andy.

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