Just spent time in northern California attending my daughter Kate’s graduation from Humbolt State University. Lots of redwoods, ocean breezes and aging hippies from my generation. Wonderful people, so long as you avoid talking politics, which I did. When I complete my fatherly duties and pay for all my kids’ educations, I may very well retire out there, assuming they’ll accept a Ronald reagan/libertarian – heck, I’m tired of arguing anyway.
State of the market -
Nothing encouraging. 217 Riverside Avenue came on nine months ago for $1,965,000. It closed yesterday for $1,588,000. Now, the owners bought it for a song a long time ago (I believe my daughter Sarah, now 21, was 3 then, and a friend of the owners’ daughter) so no one lost money here, but that’s still a big drop from hoped for to reality. Similarly, 808 North Street, purchased for $11,300,000 in 2000, has been returned to the market and, after a few price reductions,is now asking $11,750,000, 8 years later. We’re in a flat market, folks, or even, God forbid, a declining one. I recently gave a price opinion on a house that I thought should be below $2,000,000, but when I pulled the town tax card, I saw that Greenwich is taxing it as though it’s worth over $2,500,000. Tough to tell an owner that his house is worth half a million less than the town is taxing him, so, coward that I am, I didn’t. But I anticipate a tough sell (and,whether I’m the broker or not, I suspect it will sell for less than $2,000,000).
I was in negotiations with my former publisher, Greenwich Post, about returning as a paying advertiser, rather than a paid columnist. They wanted far more (5X) what they paid me for my column and, frankly, I couldn’t see why I should invest in what is essentially a dying business. I can pay a smart young college kid I know a fraction of that fee to design and maintain a website, with links, photos, etc, and make this a better column, so that’s what I’ve decided to do. Check back in soon and see what we’ve done.
In one of my last printed columns, I mentioned this monstrosity and suggested that it seemed a tad large for the neighborhood. A number of writers told me that I’d understated its size: 35,000 sq.ft above ground, yes, but the Russian owners were also planning an additional 25,000 sq.ft of underground rooms. Considering that these Russians tend to dissappear to Siberia, thanks to Putin, leaving projects half-done, it was gratifying to lean that our P&Z turned the plans down. We’ll see what they come back with, if they come back at all.