Daily Archives: September 11, 2008

Can we now, at last, close this case?
Rosenberg really was spy – his co-conspirator finally admits it.

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Lehman’s woes
I doubt that this firm’s difficulties all stem from their commercial lending arm but whoever worked in that area certainly didn’t help the parent stay strong. Case in point is Lehman’s loan to Antares to buy those aging apartments in Byram. The purchase price worked out to something like $800,000 per unit which any real estate agent, if asked, would have said was crazy. So far as I know, they never asked.

My brother Gideon tells an illustrative story of receiving a late-night phone call from an investment bank client almost 20 years ago. The bank was considering buying a failed condo project in town and wanted Gideon’s opinion on what they might sell for in a worst-case scenario. Gideon opined, the bank passed and someone else stepped in and lost their shirt. The bank that thought to ask Gideon (and presumably a few other Realtors) is still in business and doing well. So the lesson is, if you don’t know what you’re doing, ask someone who does.

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What part of “restructuring” don’t sellers understand?
I have been seeing some reasonably priced listings recently but I’m still struck on open house days how many sellers (or their agents) haven’t noticed that we’re undergoing a restructuring, downward, of prices. I won’t list specific addresses here (it tends to upset owners) but there are a lot of houses out there that will still be for sale in the Spring unless they drop their price substantially. A good indication that you’ve over-priced your house? 12 showings and no offers. If that happens, take out your meat axe.

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10 Cat Rock
So-so picture but terrific house
New listing at the entrance to Cat Rock Road (I realize that there are people who love that street but I personally prefer houses on it that are close to either end). This was built a year ago and it’s beautifully done. Three floors, decent yard backing up to conservation land and lots of Count Rumford fireplaces (which are large and shallow and throw heat into a room, rather than sucking it out. Designed by Count Rumford who, because he was a Tory, had to flee to England where he made a living fixing smokey fireplaces). I think Ann Simpson has priced it well at $2.995 million but these days, who knows? It would certainly have sold at that price a year ago and I think it should today but I am not the market.

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$13,000 to power 19 lightbulbs?
But the symbolism is priceless.

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Lehman Tumbles
This is not good for Greenwich real estate, I fear.Watch it fall in real time here

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Price reduction on Indian Head
I thought this house was priced well when it came on two weeks ago at $3.895 but the market being what it is, it’s already dropped $300K. For its Indian Head Road location, that’s pretty good. Disclosure: it is my brother Gideon’s listing, and I can’t say mean things about it or our Sunday family dinners will be awkward, but I really do like the house. As an aside, know that I will always disclose any personal interest I might have in a listing I discuss, so if I make no such mention, you can be certain that none exists. 23 Byram Terrace, for instance,mentioned below, is listed by Diane Dutcher, who is with Coldwell Banker in Old Greenwich.

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23 Byram Terrace
Here’s a nice house
At $1.495 million, this new house built by Dave Tilly is an excellent value. I hope that the address will support this price level because, if it does, it will encourage more builders to build like this. The house is super-insulated with soy-based foam, has a computerized HVAC system that should save the owner a pile of money in heating and cooling bills and is, all in all, a very attractive project. You can check out more photos here.

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The fix is in?
It’s not sexy and I suspect no one really cares,especially on this dismal anniversary of 9/11, but this Wall Street Journal editorial complains that certain investors are getting a free ride on the Fannie Mae bailout, courtesy, as usual, of us taxpayers.

With the weekend bailout, however, those investors can buy another vacation home, or three. On Monday, yield spread premiums on Fannie Mae subordinated debt maturing in 2011 plunged by three full percentage points to a bid of 3.50 points. Investing rarely gets better than this: Buy paper you know carries a higher risk but also a higher return, and then have Uncle Sugar eliminate that risk so you also make a windfall profit.

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