Daily Archives: September 18, 2008

(Friday September 19, 2008)
Time flies!
Another year has gone by and it’s once again Talk like a Pirate Day!
AARRRGGGH!

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Date and Time stamp not working
I blame it on Blogger.com, not me, because other bloggers are complaining. No word from the operator as to what’s happening and why but I presume they’ll fix it.

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Greenwich Time reports that a wild turkey is threatening beachgoers. So far, the police have decided to let the poor bird stay where she is but spokesman, police Lt. Kraig Gray warns, “it’s being more aggressive than it normally should and sooner or later something will end up happening.”
Er, like Thanksgiving?

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Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this
The New York Times reports on The Pain of Selling Short

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AGI and Lehman, explained. But the authors seem to have no better idea what will happen going forward than I do which is to say, eh?

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World does not end (today)
Stocks Soar

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Buying during the Depression?
A reader asked if anyone had the institutional memory of what happened to real estate in town during the Great Depression (and no, I don’t think we’re going there). I’ll call some of my friends who do have that kind of memory – Bernie Yudain would be a great source, I suspect – but I do know that a friend of mine’s great uncle was offered almost all of the land that now comprises Indian Head Road and its offshoots for $30,000. He saw the value but alas, was no better off than the seller so he turned it down. My friend is still working for a living but had that land been bought …

I also have noticed that some of our most magnificent estates were built in the 30’s, and why not? Land was cheap and labor was cheaper. If you had money during the Depression, there wasn’t a better time to spend it.

There are already great buys out there today. I’ve mentioned my brother Gideon’s listing on Indian Head Road – one acre of beautiful lawns, pool, secluded, with a custom built house, all for $3.6 million. Other agents and I were marvelling today over how much the market has changed because, 2 years ago, $3.6 million in Riverside bought you very little. Heck, I sold two houses just last year at $3.8 each and, while the houses were nice enough, each was on a half acre on a busy road. And no pool. If I had money and wasn’t worried about being forced to move in the next year or two, I’d be out looking for bargains. This period will eventually look like a buying opportunity if you buy the right house at the right price.

And so, look: I found some happy news after all.

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Well darn, this isn’t going to help fill out the Happy News department. NYC coop prices plummeting.

Manhattan’s finest co-op apartments may have already lost a fourth of their value as a result of the financial crisis, and the worst is yet to come, says leading New York estate broker Kathy Sloane, of Brown Harris Stevens.

An owner of a five-million dollar Park Avenue apartment, only an average residence by investment banker standards, “may be lucky to achieve $3.5 million” a month from now, said Sloane, whose clients have included celebrities, the super-rich and prominent families including the Clintons.
“If someone saw a bid between $3.8 million and $4.2 million from a qualified buyer, take that bid,” said Sloane in an interview to be broadcast on 20/20 Friday night.

Some of these owners sold in New York and came out here to buy houses. Can anyone say, “down sizer”?

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Sucking up to Royalty
Okay, this is shooting fish in the barrel but …
Grab onto your hats, my old paper,The Greenwich Post, has launched its new gossip column:

Scene … Greenwich residents and talk show hosts Regis and Joy Philbin were seen dining at Valbella in Riverside last Saturday night. At a separate table was WWE chairman and Greenwich resident Vince McMahon and his wife, Linda. Also seen dining among the celebs was Greenwich Hospital president and CEO Frank Corvino. On a separate occasion, His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco and a bevy of young beauties were dining downstairs in the wine cellar while his three bodyguards waited for him upstairs.

Scene… Riverside residents and TV personalities Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford were seen having dinner at Figaro on Greenwich Avenue last week.

Aside from the fact that, if you want to see, meet and actually speak with Frank and Kathie Lee you can come to my church on any Sunday and do just that, instead of gazing longingly from afar as Frank masticates a lamb chop,is it really worth chopping down a tree to distribute this hard-hitting, must-have news? Does it enrich one’s life to know that someone heard from someone else that Eric Clapton was on the same island (maybe even at the same time!) as that third party? What sort of self-respecting newspaper editor allows himself to be involved in this schlock?

It surely hasn’t escaped the notice of the Greenwich Post that our town is suffering a bit of a rough spot in the ol’ real estate market yet, to save printing costs, they’ve cut their last remaining real estate columnist to a bi-weekly schedule to make room for the doings of His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco. The columnist is no loss, unless you wanted to read the latest press release from the National Association of Realtors (“Everything is beeeoootiful, everything is fine …” ) but still, how does this man look himself in the mirror?

I was the only paid columnist at the weekly advertiser (and they solved that problem) so the absence of real estate news can be attributed solely to the lack of funds to actually print a paper. Of course, if you remove all the content from your paper, there might – just might – be a connection with a declining readership, no matter how many copies you stuff, free, into mailboxes.

I’m not (particularly) bitter that I’m no longer associated with this drowning enterprise -I’m having fun being on line and I’m proud to be free. My former editor might try it himself.

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Do as I say, not as I do

This fine gentleman from our Parking Authority is parked in the exact location that netted me a $25 parking ticket. I have his license plate (197 GW) – should I drop him a note and ask that he contribute to the cause?

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How not to cut your price
65 Summit Road in Riverside just cut its price from $1.375 to $1.350 million. I strongly encourage sellers to check their asking price and slash that price if no one’s offering to buy, but a tiny price cut will accomplish nothing. If your house isn’t selling, a $25,000 difference of opinion as to value isn’t the cause.

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Housing Lots for sale
68 Halsey Drive in the Havemeyer section of Old Greenwich was offering a four-lot, approved subdivision for $3.450 million, or $862.5 per lot. It’s been reduced to $2.7 million – $675 per lot but I’m not sure that will do it. Assuming $1.0 million to build and carry each house here, you’d have to sell them for $1.675 each, or more. Two of the lots are tiny: 7,000 and 8,000 sq.ft., respectively, so if they sold for less, you’d have to get more on the other two. I like Havemeyer, but new houses there were struggling at the $1.75 range at the height of the market and to risk that kind of money today means you’ve got a rosier vision of the near-future than I.

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Fuld’s Acres
Wanna buy a house?
I figured that Dick Fuld was too busy to invite me in for a cup of coffee this morning and escort me on a photo tour of his cottage at 717 North Street, but here’s the entrance. Very nice, and I suspect that it nicely balances his $26 million coop in the City.

You know, my father pulled a few of his Wall Street connections years ago and got me an interview with his best friend, Bill Golden, who mentored me when I’d just graduated college and was considering: Wall Street or law school? I concluded that I was strong on communicative skills and weak on math so I chose law school (reading his obituary linked here, I just discovered that Mr. Golden hated math too – darn!). Now I learn that all these “math wizards” were just making up the numbers as they went along – shucks, had I known that, I could be living where Dick does now, instead of being relegated across the street, snapping pictures with my iPhone. Too late smart.

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89 Lower Cross

House for sale, cheap
This almost-completed mansion at 89 Lower Cross Road can be yours for just $2.595 million. It’s within a stone’s throw of prestigious Conyer’s Farm (but just try throwing a stone across the barrier and you’ll be arrested faster than you can say “chukkar”) has it’s own pond just beyond a large swath of wetlands and the building is mere inches from the road, thus sparing you expensive snow plowing bills in the winter. I’d rush – as they say, “this one won’t last!”

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