Daily Archives: November 12, 2008

Hey, who knew?

Celebrities can also find financial trouble, according to this article on foreclosures of the rich and famous. They may be rich or may once have been, but with the exception of Ed McMahan (however he spells his name – Johnny Carson’s sidekick) I can’t say I’ve heard of these people, so how famous can they be?

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There now, wasn’t that more fun than giving up?

pirates2British Commandos in firefight with Somali pirates. Kill three, force the rest to surrender. A marked improvement over the last such incident when the British State Department, which gives even our own diplomatic corp a run for its money in complete, abject wussieism, ordered British sailors to surrender to a band of Iranian thugs. Embarrassment can be a powerful tool for good.

The Ukrainian ship that inspired this continuing pirate watch, by the way, is still trapped in a Mexican standoff between Somalis and the U.S. Navy. 47 days and counting ….

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Another blog’s advice

Here’s a blog I just stumbled across. It’s advice for real estate investors, if any still exist, but certainly applicable to anyone buying a house to live in personally.

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2008 sales through October, thanks to John Cooke

10-08-sales2

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Vulture Patrol

I’ve been looking for real estate that’s a “bargain” for one client. We’re defining, today, a bargain as being property for sale at 2003 prices or below. So far, while I notice a number of properties that ought to be at that level, few are. Maybe in a few months.

I did see that 25 Dorchester Lane in Riverside is still available. This pre-fab with some noise impact from I-95 sold for $2.150 million when it was new in May, 2004. In April of this year it was returned to the market at $2.950 which proved a bit too ambitious. Now, five price cuts along, it’s at $2.340 million. Getting there.

What’s a little scary, in reviewing the listings out there, are the houses whose value stumps me – I’m not sure some of them have any value in today’s market, given their location. That’s probably too pessimistic but when I knock down their price in my head, I come up with better houses at the same new price.  

The best values will probably turn out to be some of the new, unwanted spec houses, when their builders are finally ready to bail out for what they owe in construction owns and accept the fact that they must lose their out-of-pocket contributions. There are certainly houses on the market that won’t justify even the construction loan – houses that should never have been built to begin with and which can’t justify the amount loaned on them. But there are some others which do offer good value. The magic moment to bid on these is, I’d guess, just before the builder turns his project over to the bank. Before then, he’ll refuse to accept his loss; after the bank gets it, it will disappear into the bureaucracy – one division will have written off the loan, the next division will know nothing about the property. How do you know when this opportune time has come? Beats me – I suppose you or your agent could approach a number of spec builders and keep after them. Or if you’re a spec builder reading this and are ready to throw in the towel, contact me: we’ll move that puppy for you.

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More Realtorese

345-shore-road345 Shore Road is described as “on the Belle Haven Peninsula” and so it is; so is the Grass Island sewer plant, for that matter. What counts, as far as house buyers are concerned, is whether a house is included in the Belle Haven Association. If it is, a premium is commanded. If not well heck, you might as well be next to a sewer plant.

Not that this house is close to the plant, mind you, but it is impacted by the noise of I-95 (so are certain houses inside the Association boundaries, but never mind). It was purchased for $2.485 in December 2005 and returned to market in September 2006 for $3.275, That proved a bit too steep an appreciation for a nine-month tenancy and the the listing expired a year later in 2007 with the house unsold. A new agent tried again this spring, this time raising the price to $3.295, perhaps hoping to demonstrate that he brought something to the party but alas, raising the price failed to work any magic and again the house sat, unsold, through the summer and fall selling seasons. Now, just in time for Christmas, the price has been dropped 10% to $2.975 million. Will that do the trick? I doubt it, but the property is on the Belle Haven Peninsula.

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So I lied – sue me!

algore-eating-hamburger1Despite what your children may have heard in “An Inconvenient Truth” hurricanes are not caused by global warming and there are fewer of them now, not more. But the theory is “incontrovertible” so don’t confuse yourself with the facts.

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Still waiting

21-corneliaThe 2 acres of land on which this house at 21 Cornelia Drive sits were purchased in July, 2003 for $2.1 million, not a crazy price for such a convenient location. It took a couple of years but in September, 2005 the buyer/builder offered up his creation, a 9,400 sq. ft. house, plus basement, plus pool, tennis court, plus plus, for $11.750 million. To this eye, that seemed -well, “unexpected” should cover it. There have been seven price reductions since then with the latest coming this past July and the house is now asking $7.450 million, 37% off. To its builder, I’m sure this place is still considered new; to buyers, it’s three years old and that won’t help. This seems to be an excellent house, with lots of amenities and, as I said, a very good location, so probably the only thing wrong with it originally was that price. Now it has age and a falling market working against it too. One reason I sleep well at night is that I haven’t been carrying a place like this around since 2003. Ouch.

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When times get rough and friends just can’t be found

If not quite a bridge over troubled waters, here’s an article lamenting George Bush and his embrace of collectivism. From Reason Magazine.

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So what were they thinking?

17 Barton Lane off Cognewaugh in Cos Cob, is a 2,000 sq. ft. ranch on 2.4 acres of very nice land. It was “renovated” in 2006 and in February a year later was put up for sale at $2.625 million. Almost two years have passed and today the place was dropped to $1.595, about 40% less than the original price. It’s now being treated as a land sale but I think that the days of a Cognewaugh building lot selling for $1.6 million are past, at least for now. The time to have priced this house where it now is was when it was first listed, in my opinion. Today, with builders on the sidelines or meeting with their bankruptcy lawyers, who’s going to bid on this house?

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He never said it!

peek-a-boo2So yesterday I encountered two dear friends who, being of a certain age, still think there’s something wrong with divulging private confidences. What did they think then, I asked, about their man Obama attending a meeting with Bush – the sitting President and the man who will replace him – a meeting that, in all our history, has been treated as private and confidential, and hours later spilling the details of that meeting to the New York Times? The poor dears were flummoxed: Acknowledge that The One was a flawed boor, or turn on their bible, the New York Times? It wasn’t even close. “The reporters are lying”, one said instantly. “Of course they are,” the other said, in the deep, plumy tones that only a career spent as a BBC announcer can develop. “Believe me, been there, done that.”

When I was but a mere lad, my blessed grandmother told me that her daily paper, The Christian Science Monitor, only reported good news, which is why she read it. Even at 10 I though that was a stupid way to run a newspaper and it was only years later, after bringing myself to read the thing, that I discovered that the paper was an excellent one that covered all world and national events, good or bad; my grandmother had merely averted her eyes when she saw something unpleasant and thus kept her morning undisturbed.

That worked for my grandmother and she died at 92 serene in her confidence that all was right in her world but I worry about my living liberal friends, friends like these two ladies, who truly believe that Obama can indeed cast the first stone. The news is everywhere these days – there’s no escaping it and there’s only so much even a Times reader can blame on the paper itself. We conservatives have grown used to picking the best of a bad lot and accepting the dismal results as a necessary part of democracy – no disillusionment here. But we never anointed a President, as the liberals will next January. What’s going to happen when his human personality is revealed? I fear that their heads will explode.

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Don’t jump!

1-silk-roadHere’s a computer generated image of a new house proposed for Sachem Lane in Cos Cob, priced at $3.450 million. Surprised by that sum and wondering if Sachem can support such a price? The would-be builder may be having his doubts too because he is also offering it as unimproved land for $1.299 million. I haven’t seen the land yet (open house tomorrow, which, given the statusof the construction should probably be termed an “open field”) and, because the builders have given it a made up address – “Silk Cut” or some such thing – I can’t locate it precisely on Google. But I would guess it’s land that was carved from the 1855 antique on 2 acres that was sold for $4.0 million two years ago. That was a nice house with a beautiful yard and if that’s what was chopped up to give birth to this one, I wouldn’t count it as an improvement.

But it hasn’t been built yet and perhaps it won’t be, until the market turns.

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Rentals? Eh – not so good

229-stanwich1This house at 229 Stanwich Road routinely rented for good sums: $17,000 per month in 2002, $16,000 in 2006. Somewhere in there was a rental to an insurance crook who never paid, had to be evicted and is probably still in jail for his sins but hey, that’s all part of the fun in renting your house – who knows?

In any event, the house, empty again, was put up for rent this past August for $16,800 not a crazy sum given its rental history. But there are no takers and today the rent was dropped to $12,000. That’s a big drop.

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A (small) sign of life

I have it on good authority, as they say, that a significant land deal has gone to contract. No word on price but this parcel’s asking price is high enough to make even a substantially lower bid make me, and I think others, take notice. So it’s nice to know that someone out there not only still has money, he’s willing to part with it.

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The Maggots were fighting in dead Ernest

That headline’s from “Cheaper by the Dozen” and was brought to mind by the new chief of the YMCA’s vow yesterday that her organization was “deadly committed” to completing the under-funded project. She says the Y has the money to complete most of what was planned, absent a gym and a racket ball court or two. The Greenwich Time reporter seems to lap it all up but I do wish she had interviewed some of the vociferous Y critics, of whom there are many, to get their take on things. I’d expect this kid gloves treatment from a particular weekly advertiser I once worked for but is Greenwich Time so dependent on advertising revenue from the Y?

One complaint from the construction superintendent, one Ryan Chinelli, that will have anyone who has ever renovated a home scratching her head and asking, “who are these fools”? : In explaining the many, many delays, Chianelli explained, “”You would open a wall and never know what you were going to find.” Duh.

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