Daily Archives: August 16, 2007

The newest “Must-Have” fashion accessory
According to NPR, and who argues with NPR, fashionable families now count at least four children as necessary accessories, to go along with the yellow Labrador and the Mercedes. That many children, apparently, sends a message that you can afford four private school (and college) tuitions, a very large house and nannies to care for the brood. One young mommy interviewed for the article said, “I’m highly educated, ambitious and no longer employed in the workplace so of course I want to excel at something; in this case, raising the perfect family”. Let’s see: well educated, ambitious, rich young women – where do we find those? Instead of mulling over closing Parkway School, the Board of Ed should start planning new schools (I realize that all these perfect children are slated for private school but, as that young mommy may soon discover, not all perfect children are quite so perfect and some, alas, are going to end up rubbing shoulders with the great unwashed in the public schools).

The sky (isn’t) falling!
The New York Times reported over the weekend the sad story of a supposedly rich young thing from Wall Street who applied for a $1.5 million mortgage and was quoted rates as high as 13%. Leaving aside that a someone buying a piddling house under $2 million hardly qualifies as rich, in Greenwich, is it true that the pool for large mortgages is drying up? I called Marcos Zavattaro, Vice President of Patriot Bank and one of the most experienced mortgage guys I know (252-5922, if you want to talk to him yourself) to get the scoop. “One of the most ridiculous stories I’ve ever read”, was his response. According to Marcus, the so-called “jumbo mortgages” – loans over $1.0 million that can’t be sold to FannyMae, have indeed been hit by the recent credit panic, but not to the extent reported by the New York Times. Last Monday, he had a quote of 6 3/8 for one such loan; the next day, that same loan was 8%, because no one is willing to buy loans until they know what’s happening. Still, 8% is not 13%. Marcus’s advice – I think it’s his advice, but call him personally, in case I blew this – is to wait and let the panic subside over the next 60-90 days, when, he thinks, rates will retreat. If you want to buy a house before then, he suggests that you go interest only and pay the loan off when that bonus rolls in. If that bonus rolls in, of course. If not, we in the real estate industry stand ready to help you unload your unfortunate purchase at only a slight discount. Ah, just kidding – all my smart friends on Wall Street seem to have already figured out how to profit from the present scenario and if you haven’t, maybe you should be here with me on the other side of the trenches.

Change your broker, lose your buyers
I’ve been busy recently showing houses in the $5-$9 million range and rarely have I seen so many over-priced homes. I marked a number of them as ripe for realistic offers but saw this week that the owners of several of them have switched brokers and retained original price. That’s a sign of serious derangement – it’s not your agent’s fault that your house hasn’t sold, buddy, it’s your price – compared to others in your price range, you’re out of whack. So, when I see an owner refusing to acknowledge this truth, I cross the house off my list for future consideration. I’ll come back to it next spring when it will probably be in a free-fall and be a real bargain.

Pomerance Property
Did you see the interesting quote from Dianne Fox, our Town Planner, stating that there is nothing to prevent moderate income housing from being erected on the Pomerance park? I realize that many in town feel we need more moderate-income housing, but I suspect none of us who supported the town’s purchase of the parkland, for $20 million plus, did so with the intention that it be built over with housing. Bait and switch, or just another town official imposing her will over what the town wants? I don’t know, but it seems to me that we should fire our town planner and the current members of the RTM Land Use Committee. Time for a fresh start.

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