Daily Archives: September 12, 2008

A Home Run?
Local real estate columnists seem to think that the federal salvage of Fannie Mae is going to save our industry. I disagree. Look, people will always need housing and Greenwich will, at least until the School Board finishes destroying our educational system, continue to be an attractive place to live, so we’re not going to see Fargo, North Dakota prices here in town – I hope. But the Fed’s action is a huge admission that the mortgage business is in deep, deep trouble. One reader of this blog has commented (and if you’re not reading the comments, you’re missing much more wisdom than you’ll find in these primary postings) that we have $11 trillion in mortgage liability outstanding and something like $600 BILLION (corrected by reader) backing it up. That’s not encouraging. We’ll all survive, and I continue to believe that buying a house now at the right price will prove a great investment a few years from now, but federal intervention in the lending market is a sign of desperate times, not a ray of sunshine; in my opinion.

By the way – it’s been a while since I ticked off Franklin Bloomer, head of our Land Use Commission and chief of silliness for the Floor Area Ratio regulations. He wasn’t pleased when I reported that he’d torn down his house in Riverside and replaced it with a Westy’s self-storage center as reparation for denying Greenwich residents the use of their attics, and I just realized that he’s still wrong, and still in office. So here’s my vote for his well-deserved retirement. Perhaps he can start a hedge fund.

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Hedge fund envy
This article is on the Times’ most emailed list today so I suspect that there’s a fair bit of schadenfreude floating around concerning the fate of hedge funders. I suppose the most truthful, and painful aspect of all this is that “hedgers” were supposed to be able to churn out profits regardless of market conditions because they were so much smarter than the rest of us and knew how to hedge their bets. Turns out, many of them were just Bozos on the bus, just like the rest of us. Phew! I can go back to being proud of my philosophy degree.

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What happens to this project?
The Antares UST project is supposed to be fully leased and ahead of schedule, according to this press release. I wonder, though, whether the events of the past few weeks and events yet to come will cause some of those tenants to disappear. Regardless, this portion of the press release seems almost quaint, now:

“One Hundred West Putnam is another major victory in an already
distinguished Antares track record for creating massive real estate value in
their projects,” said Bruce Mosler, Chairman and CEO of Cushman & Wakefield.
“C&W is excited to be working with Antares to bring more global leading
companies into their groundbreaking office development at Harbor Point on the
Stamford waterfront as C&W knows we can count on Antares to provide Class A +
buildings on schedule and on budget.”

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19 Dingletown
I haven’t seen this listing that just came on today but it’s on an acre of land, has a slate roof and looks pretty nice. It’s priced at $2.495 million and was purchased 10 years ago for $1.6 million. That seems like a reasonable rate of appreciation – I hope I’m right. In any event, I congratulate the seller and the listing broker (Round Hill Partners) for acknowledging that this is not the market to shoot the moon.

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Of this and that
The Google map feature I was playing with does seem to be slowing up the page loading, as several readers have observed. Plus, coincidentally or not, my iPhone has started crashing on the site since I added maps, so they’ll be gone. You can always go to “Googlemaps.com” and type in the address yourself.

The posting about 77 Sheephill Road did not get disappeared – it just got bumped over to last week’s postings, found to the right.

And how’s this for a straight-forward warning from our government regarding Hurricane Ike?

LIFE THREATENING INUNDATION LIKELY! ALL NEIGHBORHOODS…AND POSSIBLY ENTIRE COASTAL COMMUNITIES…WILL BE INUNDATED DURING HIGH TIDE. PERSONS NOT HEEDING EVACUATION ORDERS IN SINGLE FAMILY ONE OR TWO STORY HOMES WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH.

Yesterday, after this warning, The New York Times found a 46-year-old Galveston woman perched on a milk crate and sipping brandy. “It’s just gonna be a lot of wind and rain” said she. Last words?

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Hmmm
No one seems very cheery about Lehman’s prospects. I’m taking no particular joy in their demise because I have friends who work for them or did until today and, friendship aside, these people and their peers in the financial industry have been driving the Greenwich real estate market. It’s all very well for commentators to celebrate their demise but for those of us who wanted to sell houses to them, it’s a bummer.

Along that line, did you know that only three single family homes went to contract this week? One, 7 Ginko Lane, priced at $1.150 million, went via bidding war. of the other two one was under a million and the other not much more.

Perhaps reflecting this, Mark Mariani has reduced his 11,000 sq. ft. spec house on Sabine Lane by 25% and it can now be yours for just $8.950 million. If your Shearson stock lost $2.8 million this week you can still buy this house and be right where you were.

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