Daily Archives: September 8, 2008

17 Meadowcroft
Old vs new?
A reader points out that this beautiful place on 8 acres didn’t sell when priced at $16.8 million for the past two years and thus wonders whether Mr. Mariani’s new venture will fare better. Good question and one only time will answer but there are definitely two different markets for huge houses: old and new, so this one’s failure does not necessarily portend the same fate for #1.
But then again ….

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74 Zaccheus Mead
Under “new listings” comes this reduction (albeit with a new broker). It didn’t sell last year at $4.395 million so now it’s back with a fresh new price of $3.3 million. Zaccheus is a good location and a $1.1 million dollar price chop isn’t so bad, either.

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Location, location
This house on Havemeyer tried breaking the $2 million price barrier ($2.1 million, in fact). It didn’t and now is at $1.795. Getting there, but Havemeyer remains a busy road and the new development across the street won’t help.

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Master Baths
So far, most readers responding to the poll (that’s over to your right, see it?) consider a tub in the master bedroom to be either “essential” or at least “nice to have”. Builders take notice.

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This might work
RealEstate.com is teaming up with AT&T so buyers can search for properties on their cellphones. A decent idea, but perhaps AT&T picked the wrong partner. I’ve never used the site but I just checked it now and it tells me that there are no properties for sale in Greenwich for $15 million or above. Mr. Mariani will be disappointed to learn that.

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I wonder if we can get the Greenwich Board of Realtors to try this for our town?
In this slow real estate market, we need all the buyers we can get. If this Alabama group’s offer of hard cash works Group offers Jews $50,000 to move to town we could try the same thing for lots of ethnic groups – French Huguenots, for instance (just in case, I’ll be reverting back to “de la Fontaine” – it was the British who made us change it, anyway).

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Barbarians at the Gates
I just tried emailing my friend David Ayres at Sotheby’s and was informed that I’d been blocked by that firm’s spam-buster. Should I take this personally? Must I stop saying mean things about Sotheby’s parent, Realogy? Inquiring minds want to know.
(By the way, the image above was lifted from a good article on libertarianism – if you’re tired of reading about Sarah Palin’s eyeglasses,
try this.)

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Hurricane Ike Slams into Cuba Dr. Jeff Masters reports:

Cuba is taking a terrible beating from Hurricane Ike, which crashed ashore in eastern Cuba last night as a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds. Ike’s winds have since weakened to Category 2 strength–100 mph–but are still strong enough to destroy the Cuba’s electrical system and heavily damage the cities it encounters along the heavily populated east-central portion of the country. Damage will be heavy in Camaguey, which reported sustained winds of 49 mph at 8am EDT as Ike passed 20 miles to the south. Baracoa, on the coast to the southeast of where Ike made landfall, suffered a significant storm surge, topped by high battering waves, that damaged or destroyed 1,000 buildings. Ike’s winds and rains of 6-12 inches will cause additional heavy losses to Cuban agriculture, and the storm should easily rank as one of the top-five most damaging storms in Cuban history. Ike is expected to track over Havana Tuesday morning, and the city’s 2.2 million people can expect significant damage to the many poorly-built structures in the capital city. It will take Cuba a long time to recover from Ike.

Cuba, like Burma, doesn’t want our help which is probably okay – Ike has now crossed Cuba and is again over (warm) water,picking up strength and headed for Texas, so we’ll need the money.

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You want a bargain? Here’s a bargain.
I think so,anyway. 26 Summit Road in Riverside. New construction originally asking $2.495, which didn’t seem at all a stupid price, is now down to $2.195 million. Decent house, decent yard and, for those who buy their houses like they buy their groceries, $510 per square foot.

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If at first you don’t succeed…
15 Sidney Lanier Lane first went on the market in May 2006 asking $7.8 million. It didn’t sell even though it was eventually reduced to $6.2 million and was taken off the market a year later. Now it’s back, asking $6.595. Good luck.

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Testing the waters
Mark Mariani has just listed new construction at 37 Grahampton Lane for $15 million dollars. It’s a good looking house (I’ll post a picture tomorrow) and Mariani is a quality contractor so if anything should go in that price range, this one should. But what’s the market for 15,000 sq. ft homes these days? I guess we’ll see. I would never dare question this very successful builder’s business sense but by my count this makes three spec houses he has on the market, each over $10 million. He obviously has nerves of steel.

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Picture lifted w/o permission (because I don’t know how to contact the photographer) from the very talented “Blonde Excuse”

Speaking of Business….
I was struck the other day by the sight of a shopper exiting the Old Greenwich Food Mart with a full cart of groceries. Not so long ago this was common,of course, so the fact that I thought it unusual seems evidence, to me, that more and more folks are using the new ShopRite for their main shopping and using Food Mart as a fill-in. I certainly have done no research to verify this but if my own experience is typical, we might look for a new tenant on Arcadia Road in the not-so-distant future. I hope not – small towns need places like this, or they used to.

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It may be the future, but whose future?Zillow.com and 300 newspapers have joined forces to sell real estate advertising. I see the upside for Zillow here, but to this non-businessman, it seems as though the newspapers will be selling access to their last revenue base for 50 cents on the dollar.

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Dress for Success
I’ve been criticized for my informal dress at broker open houses – I’m even told that someone wanted to bar (male) agents from wearing flip flops on hot summer days, but that was before Obama made flip flops so fashionable – so I’ve decided to change my image. Here, from last week’s NY Fashion Show, is the new look that I and no doubt many other agents will be sporting:
Pretty cool, eh?

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Bonobos in Paradise
My friends at
Greenwich Roundup have been attacking our Board of Education for being a crowd of incompetent bunglers but that’s missing the point: the Board of Ed’s budget last year was $125,000,000 or $13,929 for each student. As test scores fall and our Board fumbles, we’re seeing an increasing outflow of students to private schools, any private school. So let’s keep the Board as it is, or even expand it; at $14,000 a pop, we can ditch our students and get our budget under control in no time.

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Fannie Mae’s new digs
We all have to work somewhere but as we taxpayers nationalize 70% of the mortgage market, perhaps we should examine the hubris and greed that produced buildings like this.

And then we can focus on the Department of Education whose 2007 budget was $54.4 billion. No waste there, I’m sure, but still…

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Sally O’Brien
One of my favorite people, Sally O’Brien was seriously injured in a fall Saturday night when she lost her electrical power and went down to her basement to investigate. To this layman, her prognosis seems dire. Sally was an indomitable spirit who loved quirky old houses as much, if not more, than I do, and she championed them, fetching prices that justified their continued existence in this tear-down town. I’m praying for her.

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