Not such a bad year
From what I can understand of this year’s statistics, 726 single family homes sold in 2007, compared to 727 in 2006. Average price this year was $2,973,000 and median was $2,100,000, compared to $2,663,000 and $1,940,000 last year. That’s not huge growth, of course, but if you’ve been reading the main stream press, you’d think we should be expecting the house on either side of us to fall to a foreclosure sale. That’s not happening. Still no reason to over-price your house, though, since some buyers are attempting to move here from other, less fortunate areas, and if they’re getting less for their house than they might once have expected, they’re going to have to pay less to buy yours. Don’t be greedy.
Some astonishing statistics in a recent New York Times article regarding defaulted mortgages. Twenty percent of loans in trouble turn out to have completely false income and asset information and, of those that contain such phony data, 70% are in trouble. In other words, loan to crooks, and get what you sow. I’ve yet to see anything that makes me feel sorry for the lenders who looked the other way on these loans, notwithstanding Citibank’s predicted write-down of yet another $24 billion in bad loans this week. I refer the reader to the preceding sentence.
Not the weather, the appliances. Another columnist picked up on what I’ve written about here previously and asked his own appliance repairman about this brand: they stink. Consumer Reports has repeatedly warned against this brand as being the most expensive and least reliable of kitchen appliances (rivaled only by their own brand of lousy stove, Wolf). If you want a medium-level appliance, go GE. Top-of-the-line, choose GE Monogram. But my builder clients all tell me that buyers insist on Sub-Zero, so that’s what they install. It reminds me of the time my older brother took our horrible home-built mini-bike, sprayed it with metallic paint and affixed Bat Man decals to the gas tank. Sold it for a fortune to some sucker, and a career was born. Do your homework, people!
Life after death?
A southern investment group has bailed out Antares, paying over $200 million for the company’s failed adventure into condominium development at Greenwich Green. To me, this seems like another example of an out-of-towner over-paying for the fabled Greenwich name, but Antares did stick a huge amount of money into these units before going belly-up so perhaps this time it will work. Antares’ residential projects don’t seem to be doing any better than their condos – one, the ridiculously gargantuan 35,000 sq.ft. spec house on Langhorn remains unsold and the latest unit off Taconic sold for half-price- but the commercial re-do in Stamford, is rumored to be on track.Fortunately for the partners, I understand that each of these developments is a separate legal entity so the failure of two won’t necessarily bring down the ship.
Back in the early 60’s when fuel oil cost 5 cents a gallon, my father would point out houses that held no snow on their roofs. “No insulation”, he’d growl disapprovingly. Our house, of course, had plenty of insulation and thus held snow on its roof weeks longer than the neighbors. My dad was a cheap Yankee who couldn’t see the wisdom in wasting anything even if it was cheap but these days, you might want to consult a contractor about adding an extra layer of fiberglass. Buyers rarely pay extra for things like insulation and builders build accordingly. If you’re planning to stay where you are for a few years, extra insulation will make you more comfortable and probably pay you back.
Public Works?Last fall, the town planted about 90 small evergreen shrubs in front of what is now the Old Greenwich leaf-collection site on Arch Street (right next door to the pumping station, which until 1968, used to collect raw sewage and dump it straight into Ole’s Creek – we’ve come a long way, I hope). Of those 90, I’d estimate that at least 75 are dead or dying, either from unsuitable soil conditions or improper planting. Either way, it seems an expensive experiment in trying to turn snow plowers into planters. If we don’t have people on the town payroll who know how to do this sort of thing, shouldn’t we consider outsourcing jobs like this to people who do?