Daily Archives: September 5, 2008

Pricing (and building) to the neighborhood
This beautiful house on Loading Rock Road in Riverside was originally priced at $3.695 million in January and has now been reduced to $3.195. Why won’t it sell? I suspect it’s because the neighborhood won’t support that price level. Pioneers sometimes do well -Dave Tilly, builder of beautiful homes,broke through the price barrier on Irvine Road in Old Greenwich – but they usually need an extraordinary feature to do so. If this house were directly on the Mianus, for instance, instead of across the street from it, I’m pretty sure it would have sold at its original price a long time ago. As it is, who knows?

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95 Cognewaugh Road
The owners of this house paid $1.150 million for it in August 2003 and, after renovating it, tried to sell it 5 years later for $1.550. It sold yesterday for $1.245 which, while technically not a loss, sure isn’t a home run. Moral is, buy your house as a place to live and possibly raise a family – any appreciation is a nice bonus. I used to say that five years ago, so I feel almost smug in these trying times.

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44 Close Road
Built in 2003 for Tommy Hilfiger, neither he nor anyone else has ever lived in it and it’s been on the market ever since. It started at $12.5 million, was raised to $13.995 million a year later in an attempt, I assume, to punish those buyers who were too stupid to buy it at the lower price and then gradually slipped down through the 12s and the 11s. Today it was reduced to $10.995 which might move it, or might not. It’s a perfectly good house but unlike cheese, listings don’t improve with age.

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7 Dwight Lane
Here’s the house on Dwight Lane that’s being sold via court judgment later this month. If you enlarge the first photo you’ll notice that the house, built in 1986, has suffered from malign neglect. The original builder was on site and the auctioneer says that the man will “fix everything” for $100,000. Considering that that would involve, at a minimum, new siding, new decks, new electrical, new pool and God knows what else, that sum sounds suspiciously optimistic to me.
As did the auctioneer himself, who told me that his only problem was that he “only has one of these to sell”. I questioned him on that and he assured me that $2.5 million was only going to be the starting bid and that he already had numerous buyers chomping at the bit. If he does, they almost certainly aren’t from Greenwich because I can’t believe anyone familiar with our town and this street’s location would share the auctioneer’s fevered enthusiasm.
Of course, he could have been shucking and jiving me – you think?
The grounds are nice, though. By the way, I just remembered what else needs replacement: the tennis court.

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On second thought …
A builder (I’m pretty sure it was a builder) paid $2.840 million for a building lot on 3 Quintard Ave (Old Greenwich) in July of this year. Today he’s put it back on the market for $900K more. I understand why he might not want to proceed with a building project at this time but I’m at a loss to explain why the land is worth so much more now than it was six weeks ago. With that kind of creativity, you’d think this guy could have made a go of this project regardless of market conditions.

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16 Ridge Brook
How about this one?
This house was listed April 15, 2008 for $6.950 million and immediately underwent seven price cuts until by June 30th it was priced at a mere $3.695 million. It then disappeared for two weeks and popped up in mid-July at a new, higher price: $3.995. Today that failed experiment was deleted and replaced by a new listing of $3.495. Make up your mind, will ya?

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11 Winding Lane
Agents: Don’t let this happen to you!
This house came on for sale last September at $9.975 and sat at that same price until July 2008 when the seller lopped $1.0 million off the top. Too late, I fear. There was an additional price drop of almost $300,000 two weeks ago, no doubt because the broker’s listing was due to expire but expire it did and now it’s with a new broker, but at the same last listing price of $8.695. The original listing agent is one of the most successful in town and her replacement is also excellent but I suspect neither was or will be enough to overcome what was obviously the wrong price.

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Something for insurers and taxpayers to chew on
This site is always a helpful source of weather news, particularly Gulf hurricanes. It may be worth your while to scroll down his site for the discussion of wind shear, where you’ll find this alarming quote: “Make no mistake about it, the levees didn’t save New Orleans from a rare and powerful storm. Cuba and some slight wind shear did, ensuring that Gustav was barely a category 3 hurricane in the open Gulf of Mexico, as it was building its maximum storm surge.”
By the way, hurricane Ike seems likely to be heading west, into the Gulf, but at least one model has it slamming full force into Miami. That’s probably not going to happen with this storm but sooner, rather than later, some storm will and the results will be awesome: I’ve read predictions of $400 billion in damages. That would take care of the current housing glut down there, sure enough.

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Free Cardboard
Is there a typo on this card or have moving boxes really risen in cost so much that they can cost $3,000? I used to work summers for a moving company (a long time ago) and I think we moved entire houses for what this guy’s boxes cost. Of course, his use of the term “house removal” suggests that he’s a Brit, so perhaps someone just took advantage of him: “How much is that in pounds? Really? Jolly good!”

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26 Taconic Road
A reader asked what happened to this house. The answer, it turns out, is “nothing”. It came on in September 2006 at $7.45 million and slowly dropped in price to $5.980 before being withdrawn from the market June 28 of this year. It was a nice house but the yard was a bit dodgy and the beautiful porches extending on the east made many rooms too dark, at least for my clients’ taste. The builder may be living in it himself now – I don’t know – but I’m sure we’ll see it back for sale one of these days.

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It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to
According to Drudge, Oprah is balking at inviting Sarah Palin onto her show. I’ll admit that I’ve never watched Oprah but I’d have thought she’d be interested in a female VP nominee. Wrong again.

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Here’s an example of (builders’) optimism
My friend Jonathan Wilcox took it upon himself to compare builders’ claimed square footage with what town records show. I suppose that attics and basements do provide some sort of space but when some builders add those areas to their square footage calculations and others do not, it makes it difficult to compare apples to apples.

Click to enlarge

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You think I’m pessimistic
A friend emailed me this story predicting a housing decline worse than the Great Depression. That’s just nasty and, to make certain he ruined my morning, he also sent me this.

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Wet Basements
If you’re considering buying a house, this weekend looks like a good time to visit the subject property and inspect its basement. Hanna’s on her way and the National Weather Service is predictingup to 7″ of rain in our area. A storm like this will reveal drainage flaws far better than the most thorough home inspection and, conversely, if the place is dry on Sunday, you should be able to relax.

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