Daily Archives: May 19, 2007

Economists at work
The Greenwich Board of Realtors has commissioned a study by a UConn economist to measure the growth of Greenwich real estate. His conclusion: 600% over the past 20 years, outpacing all of the various stock indexes. That’s reassuring, but should be taken with a large grain of salt. So far as I can tell (and a meeting to discuss these findings with its author won’t be held until next week) the data don’t reflect improvements made to the subject property. That’s not necessarily fatal, because it’s the land that is soaring in value, not the housing stock. My kids were horrified when I told them that their childhood home was destined for the dumpster when its sold, but there it is; Nancy and I put in over $150,000 to improve it (okay, that’s a powder room for most readers but for this middle class family in the ’80s, it was huge) but whoever buys it will be buying it for its location, not our improvements. All in all, I suppose the study demonstrates that Greenwich has been, and remains, a solid investment – just don’t take the price you paid in 1986, multiply it by six and assume that that’s your home’s current value. Could be, but not necessarily.

Morons at the gate
I overheard two fellow agents (and friends, hence no names mentioned here) commenting at an open house the other day. The house we were in happened to be near the railroad tracks and some overhead power lines. “I’d never sell this place,” said one, ” those power lines kill”. “Leukemia,” confirmed the other, nodding with supreme confidence. Now, I know these two to be well educated, otherwise-intelligent people, so I was dismayed at their ignorant acceptance of junk science – if they’re blundering around in a fog of ignorance, how are we supposed to calculate house prices? What (negative) value do we ascribe to bad Feng Shui, graveyards within 500 yards, nearby cell phone towers, a death down the street, etc? (I’ll concede that Mr. Kissel’s bloody, bound demise on Dairy Road significantly affected that house’s resale value – by the way: another murder “solved” by our gendarmes, who declared it a suicide). If our otherwise well-educated sales force thinks these things matter, surely some customers do, too. I don’t know how to adjust prices to accommodate superstitious nonsense but I sense that it’s a skill I’d better develop, and soon – we’re moving into over-drive in this country.

And in our laundries
Did you see Consumer Report’s latest review of “energy efficient” washing machines, now mandated by Congressional edict? Turns out, your basic top-loader machine no longer cleans clothes. You’ll now have to spend $1,000 to get something that will do the job. That’s probably no hardship for the average Greenwich household but I suspect that consumers in most of the rest of the country won’t be pleased. Just wait until they can no longer buy incandescent light bulbs. With luck, we’ll have a revolution.

The Back Country
A recent newspaper article on the Back Country quoted another two friends of mine who claimed that the beauty of the area has not been diminished by all the recent construction. Phooey, says I. A 15,000 sq.ft. badly-designed mansion crammed onto a 4 acre lot looks just awful, especially compared to the graceful houses set on 100 acres that they replaced. I understand market forces and I can accept change, but don’t try to pretend that nothing has been lost; the town has suffered greatly. North Street, once the grand, beautiful entrance to our town, is now cluttered with tasteless, over-sized collections of builder’s kitsch (fortunately hidden behind towering stone walls) – the rest of the Back Country has suffered as badly.

Wanna be a landlord?
Dan Piotrowski has listed a five unit condominium complex at 9 Riversville Road for $5,350,000. I assume that’s not quite the right price or it would have sold by now but these are pretty neat units, each renovated and each, I would think, capable of bringing in a decent rent. So at some capitalization rate, these ought to be a good buy.

Vile bodies
Speaking of corpses, did you see the news account of a Realtor and her clients discovering a three-week-old corpse moldering in bed? We just hate when that happens.

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