Daily Archives: November 19, 2008

Good news for the YMCA

After more than 400 lawsuits, disabled man can sue no more. 399 to go for our local litigant.

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Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate

Oh my goodness, four more years of this!


What whine goes with a stressful election?

What whine goes well with an intense election?

Go ahead, I dare you to guess who this lady voted for:

 A NEIGHBOR stopped by the other day to talk about her Thanksgiving plans. Last year, she didn’t really give the meal much thought. She bought a turkey that was already cooked, and asked guests to bring the side dishes.

This year is different, she said. Between the intensity of the election and the uncertainty of the economy, the meal means more to her. She plans to cook everything herself, using as much local food as she can and making even the pies from scratch.

Can I wish her a dose of food poisoning? Just a mild case?

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Filed under Right wing nut rantings

Tone deaf

CEA kindly supplied this link about the three auto chairmen (each) flying private jets down to Washington to plead for money.   If begging doesn’t work out for these clowns they can always get jobs with the financial industry awarding bonuses or representing the Greenwich YMCA in its efforts to discriminate against cripples. The original “Best and the Brightest” brought us Viet Nam. This generation proves equally adept at ruining major industries like autos and finance.  At least they’re not running our government – although, thinking about what’s ahead, that might be an improvement.

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Avert your eyes, it’s politics!

But too good not to mention it. Today’s Best of the web reports on a poll of Obama voters:

A new poll from Zogby International shows Obama voters to be shockingly ignorant of political trivia involving their own candidate:

83% failed to correctly answer that Obama had won his first election by getting all of his opponents removed from the ballot, and 88% did not correctly associate Obama with his statement that his energy policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry. Most (56%) were also not able to correctly answer that Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground.

Nearly three quarters (72%) of Obama voters did not correctly identify Biden as the candidate who had to quit a previous campaign for President because he was found to have plagiarized a speech, and nearly half (47%) did not know that Biden was the one who predicted Obama would be tested by a generated international crisis during his first six months as President. . . .

57% of Obama voters were unable to correctly answer that Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate.

Wait, it gets worse. The test was multiple choice!


Filed under Right wing nut rantings

Belle Haven “area”

29 Field Point Drive "In the Belle Haven area"

29 Field Point Drive

The Belle Haven “area”, as any proper snob will inform you, is very much not in Belle Haven itself, although this house comes close. I really like the house, but it’s been dragging along in the market so long that it’s beginning to show its age as a listing (the house itself is doing just fine). The owners paid $3.2 million for it back in 2002 and must have spent a lot of money fixing it up because everything seems modern and new. Or that was the case in 2005, when they first tried reselling it, at a new price of $6.995 million. I think buyers in that range wanted the panache of “Belle Haven Association” in their address but perhaps they just balked at spending that much money for what is essentially a perfect house for a couple or, at most small family. Whatever the case, the house has gone through at least three changes of brokers and numerous price reductions until now it is priced at $4.99 million, $2.0 below where it started. Call me crazy, but that all sounds like an awful lot of irritation and inconvenience to endure before reaching the price it should have been at originally. And now, of course, it’s heading into the winter dormant season of the worst selling conditions we’ve seen in a long time. That’s not good.

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Shore Road fails to break the $5 mil price barrier

329-shore-rdThe builders of this property paid $1.5 million for its 0.59 acre lot (with teardown) back in July of ’04. They built a very nice house on the land and put it up for sale in the summer of 2006 at $5.2 million. That wasn’t all that far-fetched a price in those days but it was, obviously, too high for Shore Road (I say obvious because it didn’t sell, not because I have some source of ultimate wisdom). It’s been on the market ever since, with a few spells off, and today it’s been marked down again, to $4.4 million. There was a time when an $800,000 price reduction would grab a buyer’s attention. Not now.

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Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich

Why realtors make you sign 1,000 silly forms

peeling-paintEPA seeks to fine real estate firm $1.2 million for violation of lead disclosure law. That’s 34 violations spread over five or six states and thousands of transactions: $29,400+ for each violation. Understand that these forms essentially do nothing because they permit the seller to simply check “no knowledge of lead either way” and leave the tenant or buyer to find out for himself. The rule may be worthless but the fines for not having the proper paperwork are horrendous, so look for your agent to be even more of a nitpicker. And then the world will be safe for democracy.


Filed under Real estate agents

Price it, sell it?

17 Tomac Avenue (no picture – a reader just reported that the pictures are suddenly causing his computer to seize and so until I figure that out, just click on the link) was listed for $3.499 million in February, 2008. It dropped exactly $50,000 in the ensuing ten months and never attracted a buyer. The sellers extended their listing contract today for an additional three months but I suspect that, had they cut their price by a sum sufficient to draw buyers’ attention to the property, it would have been sold by now. It’s a nice house, so I’ve got to believe it’s the price that’s wrong.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich

Firewood buying tips

wood-pileA reader asked me about trustworthy suppliers of firewood under the mistaken impression that I had found and reported on one a year or two ago in my column. In fact, the people I wrote about short-changed me by a 1/2 cord and only after I’d stirred Greenwich’s head of Weights and Measures, Tony Belmont into action (and only after I, and a confirming call to Hartford, convinced him that a cord of wood is indeed an officially recognized measure and thus subject to his jurisdiction) did I receive the wood I’d paid for. Mr. Belmont died earlier this year and so I’m not sure his department can still provide relief.
So I’m appealing to readers for the names of reliable vendors. I am aware of Vermont Good Wood  in Old Greenwich that sells kiln-dried, neatly stacked wood. Their stuff burns very well – my younger brother Gideon loves them – but Vermont charges $280 for 42 1/2 cubic feet of wood (4X8X16″), which is 1/3 of a cord. If I’m going to buy gold, I’d just as soon not burn it. I’m looking for names of guys who sell the more traditional stuff – crumbly bark, creepy-crawler bugs, etc. all for a reasonable price.
From a very long time burning wood and preparing it for burning (in Maine, I’d by 20′ logs and buck them into stove-lengths; we went through about 6 cords a winter) I have some observations to pass along, as follows:
There are two things to watch for with traditional wood providers – dryness and volume. A log split this fall will still be green, even if the tree it came from was cut down last year. You want wood that’s been split and dried for a year. Most firewood dealers I know will lie to you about this but check the ends of a few logs – they should be grey and have lots of small split lines. If not (or worse, if the stuff hisses in the fireplace, the result of water that shouldn’t be in the wood turning to steam and escaping) you’ve been had.
Volume is tricky: a full cord is 4’X4’X8′ : four feet tall, four feet wide, eight feet long. Most wood suppliers fill a small dump truck with wood and spill it over your driveway. You won’t know you’ve been ripped off until you stack the logs and see how they (don’t) measure up. My advice is to pay extra for the deliverymen to stack it and don’t pay for the stuff until you’ve had a chance to measure the pile, either with a tape measure or by eye – the precision required depends on your personality. You can then tell immediately whether you’ve received a full cord and if not, either demand more or pay less. There’s nothing wrong with a half-cord, you just shouldn’t be charged for a cord and receive 1/2, even though most dealers will insist that “everyone does this” and “no one actually delivers a full cord”. BS.
So if anyone out there has had better experiences with wood dealers than I have, pleased leave a comment and share the wealth. Thanks.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate

We can continue to be the Europeans’ vacation destination

Oh goodie: Europe ditches the Kyoto accord nonsense while it tries to stave of a depression and the Messiah vows to make his carbon cap and trade plan a number one priority. This is moving from amusing to downright scary.

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Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate

Compassion in the Catskills

From the Bovina Bloviator:

Sad stories from the NYT’s “Neediest Cases” as reported by the WSJ.

Get them while there’s still a Republican in the White House); poverty American style.

For years, Mike and Kelly D’Addeo planned to use their trove of Intel Corp. stock options to send their son Tony to a top college.

Tony would be a good candidate for any school: He’s a straight-A senior at Bowie High School and captain of the football team, with near-perfect SAT scores. He’s not interested in playing college football; instead, Tony talks about majoring in computer science or engineering.

“I’d like to have my own business someday,” he said.

But the plunging stock market has made their stock options worthless and crushed the D’Addeos’ Ivy League dreams.

The Bloviator says, “As Herman Westinghouse (a family friend, generations back) put it so nicely: ‘The poor have their troubles as well as the rich.’ ”

 I myself like the summation of the Journel’s writer who points out that stashing your child’s college education in options is a form of child abuse.

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Riverside Waterfron seems to be holding steady

15 Shoal Pt. Ln, Rvsd

15 Shoal Pt. Ln, Rvsd


This property (we neighbors call it the “Helmet House”) sold for $3.275 million in September, 2005, perhaps at a lower price than it should have fetched because its builder priced it for a million more and let it sit around for a couple of years. It sold again last week for $3.3 million, full asking price, which shows that the listing agent, Ann Simpson knows her business and that waterfront, even tidal waterfront, isn’t in the dumps, yet. Admittedly the seller lost money after transaction costs are figured in but there are a lot of houses out there faring far worse these days.

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Fly Away Little Bird: Ospreys not welcome

ospreyAccording to Greenwich Time, some boaters in Old Greenwich Harbor want my osprey neighbors evicted. They claim, and I’m sure it’s true, that the fish hawks rip apart their catch while perched in the masts of the boaters’ sailboats and create an unholy mess. My response is, essentially, too bad.

I’ve used friends’ boats moored in the harbor before and, closer to shore, the problem is sea gull poop. So disgusting and time consuming to remove, in fact, that although I was granted a summer’s free use of a boat while its owner was away I only took advantage of the offer twice in three months. If powerboaters can put up with seagulls, sailors can deal with ospreys.

In one of my meaner acts some years ago, one fueled by very un-Christian thoughts of resentment and envy, no doubt, I stood on my firm’s third-floor balcony and watched a red tailed hawk eviscerate a squirrel it had just caught. The hawk was perched in an oak tree in the parking lot we shared with a brokerage firm and directly below that perch was a red BMW convertible, brand new and with its top down. As I watched gobbets of bloody fur and meat fall from the bird’s talons onto the leather seats of that Beemer I knew that I should call over to the brokerage firm and advise whoever the  young hot shot was who owned the car to move it. I did no such thing, preferring instead to contemplate the young man’s horror and shock when he returned to his car to discover that someone had opened an abattoir in his passenger compartment. I’m sure I’ll spend time in purgatory for that one.

Which doesn’t have much to do with ospreys. Here’s the deal: I loved it when they came back after being almost wiped out by pesticides and I enjoy watching them now as they soar overhead and swoop down for fish. They’re exciting and beautiful. It’s true that I don’t have a boat for them to befoul but, if it helps, I’ll point out to the angry boaters that they have it easy. In San Diego, I’m told that sea lions have taken over and use the boats moored there as resting platforms and bathrooms. Whatever carnage an osprey can leave behind, surely it is as nothing to that deposited by a sea lion.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate

2003 Prices for 2008 real estate?

6 Old Stone Bridge was last sold in November, 2003 for $1.675 million. It came back up for sale this past September, priced at $2.325 million, or just about 40% more than the sellers had paid for it. That didn’t work so well and this morning they dropped it to $1.995 million, a 20% markup over 2003 prices. Getting there – I’ll be curious to see how close to that older price this one sells for.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate

For sale signs coming to Greenwich?

Realogy, parent company of Sotheby’s and Coldwell Banker, placed on endangered list.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate