I hate ALL CAPS and I prefer to decide for myself what my responsibilities are to my clients (and I don’t sell in Stamford).
Daily Archives: September 3, 2008
Straight from “The Grim Reaper Gazette”(Okay, I guess it’s actually Bloomberg)GMAC Mortgage shuts down
“This gives you a full flavor of how terrible the mortgage market is,” said Mirko Mikelic, senior portfolio manager at Fifth Third Asset Management in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “The past year has been horrible and it doesn’t look like there is any improvement on the horizon with continuing declines in home values and rising delinquencies.”
Chris – one would hope that someone in the real estate industry (such as yourself), would at least try to promote an optimistic point of view. It’s in the best interest of all of us, including the buyers.
I’d be happy to oblige, if only someone would point out something to be optimistic about. Sales are down 38%, values are dropping, buyers are sitting on the sideline, what can I say? Are there glimpses of cheer? Sure – there’s a house sale pending in the eastern part of town due to close in a few weeks at $8 million plus that should blow the socks off any recent comparable sale on its street. When it does, you’ll hear about it here. But otherwise, I’m pretty much stuck reporting on how things are, and things ain’t rosy. I try to point out bargains when I spot them, and I’ve mentioned several times that there are bargains available but I’m not interested in painting a false picture of a healthy market, regardless of how that might serve sellers or even this particular realtor. There are a couple of other columnists in town who seem to have a brighter outlook so if you’re looking for happy news, check their papers.
Of course, if I were a buyer who over-paid because of a supposed expert’s opinion that things were looking up I’d be pretty ticked when things turned out otherwise.
I mentioned yesterday that this renovated house finally went to contract last week at somewhere south of its last asking price of $1.995 million, down from an initial asking price of $3.4 back in January 2006. What I failed to point out was that the builders/sellers bought the place way back in November, 2003 for $1.4 million and spent the intervening years adding on, building a new septic field, etc. That’s a long time and a lot of sunken money for such a paltry return. Watch out where you “invest”.
Dear XXX – thank you for sharing the alarming news that Ms. Palin supports oil drilling and hunting mooses. I shall of course never ever vote for such a person and I intend to sell my rifles and contribute the proceeds to Mr. Obama as some small token of remorse.
Along those lines, and in view of your deep concern over global warming, I have decided that, rather than pay you back for the gasoline we consumed boating to Montauk this past week I will instead purchase a carbon offset from an Indian company that grows biomass for alternative energy projects. It will only cost me a few rupees but I’m sure that you’ll agree that it’s better to spend a few pennies saving our earth than encouraging the profligate use of our precious resources and the spewing of carbon out your 90-foot yacht’s tailpipes.
Yours in peace, love and understanding,
From The Volokh Conspiracy, everything the New York Times knew about war, peace and Iraq:
Surge of Ignorance The only real question about the planned “surge” in Iraq — which is better described as a Vietnam-style escalation — is whether its proponents are cynical or delusional. — Paul Krugman, NYT, 1/8/07
There is nothing ahead but even greater disaster in Iraq. — NYT Editorial, 1/11/07
What anyone in Congress with half a brain knows is that the surge was sabotaged before it began. — Frank Rich, NYT, 2/11/07
Keeping troops in Iraq has steadily increased the risk of a bloodbath. The best way to reduce that risk is, I think, to announce a timetable for withdrawal and to begin a different kind of surge: of diplomacy. — Nicholas Kristof, NYT, 2/13/07
W. could have applied that to Iraq, where he has always done only enough to fail, including with the Surge — Maureen Dowd, NYT, 2/17/07
The senator supported a war that didn’t need to be fought and is a cheerleader for a surge that won’t work. — Maureen Dowd, NYT, 2/24/07
Now the ”surge” that was supposed to show results by summer is creeping inexorably into an open-ended escalation, even as Moktada al-Sadr’s militia ominously melts away, just as Iraq’s army did after the invasion in 2003, lying in wait to spring a Tet-like surprise. — Frank Rich, NYT, 3/11/07
Victory is no longer an option in Iraq, if it ever was. The only rational objective left is to responsibly organize America’s inevitable exit. That is exactly what Mr. Bush is not doing and what the House and Senate bills try to do. — NYT Editorial, 3/29/07
There is no possible triumph in Iraq and very little hope left. — NYT Editorial, 4/12/07
… the empty hope of the “surge” … — Frank Rich, NYT, 4/22/07
Three months into Mr. Bush’s troop escalation, there is no real security in Baghdad and no measurable progress toward reconciliation, while American public support for this folly has all but run out. — NYT Editorial, 5/11/07
Now the Bush administration finds itself at that same hour of shame. It knows the surge is not working. — Maureen Down, NYT, 5/27/07
Mr. Bush does have a choice and a clear obligation to re-evaluate strategy when everything, but his own illusions, tells him that it is failing. — NYT Editorial, 7/25/07
The smart money, then, knows that the surge has failed, that the war is lost, and that Iraq is going the way of Yugoslavia. — Paul Krugman, NYT, 9/14/07
U.S. Hands Off Pacified Anbar, Once Heart of Iraq Insurgency. — NYT, 9/1/08
Testing the Water (again)
The land at 264 Riverside Avenue was originally going to hold a fairly large house priced at $4.390 million. That didn’t work out so the builder tried selling the land itself for $1.995 and (after, rumor has it, rejecting an offer or two that might have been close to that) sold it off last Fall for $1.350. Now a new builder is trying again, offering a “6,400 sq.ft.” house “set among parklike grounds” for, again, $4.390 million. It could work, although I note that, 0.33 acres hardly conjures up images of “park-like grounds” to me, and the applicable FAR limits the above-ground house to 4,528 sq.ft., so there’s a big chunk of basement presumably being included here. The builder/designer has done excellent work in the past so this promises to be a nice house regardless of its size and, with a planned completion date of Spring 2009, perhaps the market will have recovered enough to support its price. Riverside has always been a strong market and houses in this price range on this street have sold before so there’s room for optimism. There’s also room for skepticism, which I suppose is the point of this post.
Here’s a whack upside the head
Courtesy of John Cooke, some self-explanatory sales statistics.
Click to enlarge
The only sales increase is at the bottom of the market which is no doubt due to prices falling rather than any sudden surge of interest. The only average price increase can be found above $5 million but that’s probably due to new construction pushing things up. With a 38% decrease in volume, it’s reasonable (to me) to expect a decline in this range later this year.
Where’s that dunce cap now?
Greenwich Time reports, but not on line, that the Antares boys have ceded control of their Stamford redevelopment project to their Norwalk partner. Just two weeks ago Joe Beninati, co-founder of Antares, denied to The New Yorker’s Nick Paumgarten that any such thing was possible. Things have obviously changed and Beninati professes to be delighted: “This frees Jim and me up for future acquisitions in the land assemblage [business]”. That freedom is rapidly expanding, with the failure of their Putnam Green condo conversion project, the collapse of their Taconic Road residential spec development and the fire sale price supposedly fetched by their 35,000 sq. ft. disaster on Langhorne Lane. Just wait until their own houses around the corner from that mess are foreclosed – they’ll have even more spare time to work their magic.
(From the New Yorker article)”By June, a developer from Norwalk named Carl Kuehner and his firm Building and Land Technology had joined the project. People around town wondered whether Antares had lost control of Harbor Point, but Beninati dismissed this: ‘Carl’s going to lead the vertical development. He’s a superstar. It’s like trading for a Derek Jeter. We’re not about ego.’ (A spokesman for Lubert-Adler said that the firm would have no comment.)”
Greenwich Time has now posted the article