Daily Archives: October 28, 2008

Realtor-ese
A recurring topic because we real estate agents are so darn creative! In no particular order:
“Lake”: any body of water large enough to hold a (small) frog.
“Trout Stream”: any trickle of water too small to be called a lake.
“Renovated”: if no mention is made of anything specific, assume that there’s nothing to mention, so count on the dust bunnies having been swept from under the beds and, maybe, ashes cleaned from the fireplace.
“On the Stamford/Greenwich border”: in Stamford
“Enjoy as is, renovate or start anew”: Reserve a dumpster.
“Has great potential”: Reserve a dumpster.
“Convenient to transportation”: backs up to I-95.
“Not a drive-by”: It’s a drive by – and keep driving.
“Must see”: Same advice – keep driving.
“Motivated Seller”: We can’t possibly unload the place at its current price but the dumbass seller won’t publicly admit it – bring a low-ball offer and let’s talk.
“Won’t last”: It did, or we wouldn’t still be advertising the turkey.

Send in your own favorites and I’ll add them here.

Reader Updates: “seasonal water views”. Go up on the roof, climb a step ladder and wow!. I myself, because I’m a truthful sort of guy, prefer to call these nature sightings “seasonal water glimpses”.

“Much loved” = obsolete

“Charming” = small

Cozy – means that it’s really a dollhouse or doghouse

New paint – it’s amazing how far $5 per gallon paint goes

New carpet – covering up the scratched hardwood floors

Close to Park – SO close that you’ll never find a parking spot
Peaceful backyard– because 36,000 cars drive by the front yard each day.
Professionally remodeled – the owner and their siblings didn’t do the work, the neighbor’s sister’s husband’s son did.

Movable center island – the kids ran into it so many times it came loose.

Quaint – it’s pink!

Steps to the creek – be ready to sandbag the front yard each spring.

On golf course – high insurance for broken windows

“Classic”: brand-new, trying to look established

“Georgian”: anything with stone, no matter how little of it, on any part of the facade, even if you need a magnifying glass to find it.

“Condo alternative” – so small that only a single person or couple can live in it.

“Compound” or “retreat” sounds like it’s in the middle of a war zone

“First time on market in 70 years” : Last updated when Grandpa sold the horse and used the proceeds to replace the outhouse.

“Lovingly maintained”–the harvest gold appliances still work like a charm and the sheet vinyl in the kitchen has been so carefully patched, you’ll hardly notice.

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Riverside/Old Greenwich vs. Mid and Back Country?

It all depends on your taste. I grew up in Riverside and raised my own children there and really enjoyed the ability to find friends to play with in every back yard. Of course these days, where there is no such thing as pick-up game of baseball and “playdates” are scheduled 5 years in advance, there is less opportunity for spontaneous fun but it was still nice not to have to chauffeur my kids around – they’d walk or bike home from school, stopping by a friend’s house on the way and we’d see them in time for dinner. Great stuff.

But other people feel suffocated by the close quarters – a claustrophobia made worse in the past 50 years by the constant erection of new houses and the destruction of the meadows and woods that used to be here. They’d no sooner live in a house 25′ from their neighbor than drive an old beater car to the station. Aaaghh! And I understand that (well, the former, if not the latter). I worked with a great couple who lived in Riverside but, the more I listened, the more I heard that the husband, who’d grown up on lots of land in the mid-west, felt cramped on a piddling 1/3 acre and the wife was more interested in a classic pre-War home than she was its location. I suggested we look at a great old house on two acres, with a pool, that was selling for the same price as Riverside homes on far less land and with far less charm and they loved it. The move made perfect sense for them.

The one complaint I hear from Back Country parents is about the driving – 45 minutes to drop kid #1 to soccer practice and kid #2 at a friends house, then go home for 1/2 an hour and repeat the process. If your kids are old enough to drive, that’s not an issue.

So yes: per square foot, Riverside and Old Greenwich are more expensive and have been for a long time – families with young children particularly want to live in the area. The trade off is in privacy and room – some people insist on those, others do without them for the convenience. The nice thing about Greenwich is that there’s room enough to satisfy both tastes.

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82 Buckfield

Here’s a nice house in the Back Country that was, I think, aggressively priced back in 2005 at $4.790 million. It languished for awhile at that price, was pulled, and eventually returned at $4.495 million. Today the sellers chopped a cool million from that and now ask $3.495 (do I have to do all the mathematical heavy lifting around here?). I wish for the sellers’ sake that they’d started here, when the market was stronger – ok, when there was a market at all – but it’s now a lot of house for a reasonable amount of money. I wish the sellers well.

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5 Raymond Street, Old Greenwich


When this house (click on title above for listing details) was last on the market back in 2004 it was listed at $1.625 million and sold quickly at full asking price. That was then. It’s now on the market again – the listing claims it was “renovated” in 2008 but I’m pretty sure that’s just realtor speak for tidied up and painted. In May, the seller asked $2.250 million; it’s now down to $1.788, still 10% over what they paid for it four years ago. If the seller is lucky he’ll manage to break even, in my opinion.

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Happy news from happy Realtors What downturn? Every thing’s great and now’s the perfect time to buy a house, says this economist. Don’t let the fact that he works for the National Association of Realtors throw you for even one instant. He couldn’t say it if it weren’t true, right?

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You say Hello, and I say Dubai

Like castles built on sand, the Dubai real estate boom is crashing. Too bad.

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