Daily Archives: November 20, 2008

More on firewood

I received the followig email from a local guy and he sure sounds like the real thing – so in an attempt to help our fellow residents, here’s what he said and his contact information:


Hello my name is Bryan Krois. I am a local Riverside resident who is also involved with firewood sales. I am a one man show. I hand load the truck for every delivery going out, and i deliver and stack as needed. I sell seasoned hardwoods and never deliver the quantity agreed upon, i like to put a little extra on every load so theres never a question as to shorting people.
My prices are:
Full Cord   $275    Stacking $45 and up
1/2 Cord   $200    Stacking $25 and up
1/4 Cord  $150    Stacking $15 and up
These are delivered prices (Greenwich,Stamford,Darien).
I’ve enclosed a picture of my pile from earlier in the season.
(203) 496-1241 [his email is bkrois@optonline.net]


Bryan Krois

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As alike as peas in a pod


But more depressing. Yesterday, the Dow reached its lowest level in 5 years and I felt that our real estate prices were also at the 2003 level. Today the Dow fell to an 11 year low – will real estate follow? Stay tuned.


Filed under Right wing nut rantings

Greenwich property tax revenue – going down?

I expected budget cuts but ...
I expected budget cuts but …

Greenwich pretty much runs itself on property and conveyance taxes with some building permit fees tossed in just for fun. We know that nothing much is selling or being built so there go two legs of the stool. What happens if homeowners start appealing their assessments? We’ve been selling at some multiple of the assessment almost forever, it seems, but there’s a good argument to be made for a lot of houses these days that their assessment’s too high. If the town’s entire housing stock is reevaluated downwards that would probably be revenue neutral because everyone’s mill rate would rise to match the budget. But what if, say, 15% of Greenwich homeowners appeal and win reductions. 25%? More? Things just keep on getting interesting.

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Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate

The Big Three are now officially friendless

Waxman ousts Dingell from Energy Committee

Walking home to Detroit
Walking home to Detroit

Of course this may boost Honda sales if people of my persuasion rush out to buy new cars before Waxman and his cohort raise their prices to the stratosphere.

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A careful, reasoned approach

The Grim Reaper Gazette

The Grim Reaper Gazette

J.P. Morgan to fire 10% of workforce. If I had devoted my career, my skills and my dedication to a company that had been enriched by those efforts, I’d be a little cheesed to lose my job to a corporate-wide cutting swath of 10% of all employees.
But that’s just me.

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Here’s a jolly tidbit of news

I had coffee this morning with a friend who knows all sorts of things I don’t, especially about troubled real estate. He recounted a conversation he recently had with a representative of Washington Mutual concerning reworking mortgages under the federal bail-out program. As of now, that program requires the applicant to be unemployed, have a mortgage no larger than $1.5 million and the house must be in a distressed area. Did Greenwich qualify as a distressed area? The rep looked it up and reported that indeed it did and that the bank had 466 relief applications pending from our town.

That’s just one bank, and those are numbers for relatively small mortgages. There is no similar relief offered to spec builders (or any applicant who doesn’t use the burdened property as his primary residence) or formerly-rich guys who borrowed over their heads. I’ll bet they wish there were.

Another thing he told me: he’s been scouring the Town Clerk’s vault, where mortgages and notices of foreclosures are filed and his conclusion is that until 2005 mortgages were relatively sane. That is, matching the loan amount to what he considered the value of the particular land and neighborhood, he concluded that the loan to value ratio wasn’t nuts. After that, the lending industry went off its rocker. If he’s right, and I’m certain he is, we should soon see some very interesting sales as banks figure out that their loans have no positive relationship to the properties securing them, panic, and start dumping. Woohoo!


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate

Graveyards, revisited

A discussion broke out yesterday on the affect proximity to a grave yard has on a house’s value. A further illustration of the conclusion – it hurts – is provided today by the announcement of another price cut on 10 Sparrow lane. a decent enough house that looks over a portion of the St. Marys (I think) cemetery. It was priced at $5.250 million in February and is now asking a million dollars less. Some of that drop, of course, can be attributed to pricing it too high to begin with but I believe that the sellers and their agent under estimated the impact of the graveyard. Which leads to pricing it too high, eh?

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What value, history?

Circa 1745

Circa 1749

Not much, apparently, if this house at 30 Strickland Rd. is an example. The tax appraiser valued it at $1.5 million, it was listed at $1.75 million and only went to contract, today, after dropping to $995,000, so presumably its actual sale price will be still lower. Nice house, too.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate

Back to NY, tail between legs

We’ve mention 480 North Street before: built by a NYC builder as his first project and finally going to contract two weeks ago. Today the sale price was released so here’s a fun recap:

Land purchased for $3 million in May, 2005.

House, still under construction, offered at $9.5 million, July, 2006.

Many, many price cuts later, house sells 11/18/08 for $4.5 million (last asking price was $5.5 million).

I thought $4.5 would have been an appropriate starting price back when I first saw this in 2006, so I think this sale is less a reflection of a bad market today than the crazy market of 2005, when inferior building lots were fetching $3.0 million.

It also demonstrates what happens when people with no knowledge of Greenwich come to town to make their fortune and assume our residents will pay any price for any house.

Update: a reader calculated the loss on this house based on a guess that it was 8,000 sq.ft. In fact, the listing shows 10,250, but a lot of that would be in the basement which is less expensive to build. Still, I bet it hurts.

Another item of interest, perhaps: The seller was SMI Construction, out of NYC. There is a SMI Construction Management shown as located in the residence at 81 Butternut Hollow Road.If it’s the same owner, we can probably sleep tonight and not worry about his finances – 81 Butternut last sold, in 2003, for $8.75 million.

But wait, there’s more! 81 Butternut sold for $10 million in January, 2000. The buyer put it back on the market one year later, unchanged, for $14 million. Not surprisingly, it didn’t sell for two long years until a new broker lowered its price to $9 million and unloaded the place. It was hard to lose money in Greenwich real estate back then but over-pricing by at least $4 million accomplished that trick. It would be ironic if the same person who benefited from the overpricing at his house on Butternut pulled the same dumb mistake with his own project.

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It keeps not working, they keep trying it

71 Orchard Place, hard by the Thruway but within walking distance of Bruce Park, if that’s your pleasure, was originally listed for $1.995 million on May 30, 2007. Eight price cuts later it reached a temporary bottom of $1.595 exactly one year later. The summer came and went without a buyer so in September ’08 the price was raised to $1.625 million. I’m sure the builder was perplexed when this strong-arm tactic against buyers didn’t work but he’s gradually adjusted to reality and after four more price cuts he’s down today to $1.450 million.

If I were to draw a lesson from the sorry plight of this builder/seller it would be to try to set a reasonable price to begin with and if that price turns out to be overly optimistic, cut it drastically, immediately – there’s no time for a slight shaving. Eleven price reductions with a price increase in the middle is very much not a formula for success in this or any market, good or bad. Smarten up.

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Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate

Cops at Play in Riverside

Officer Friendly is here to help!

Officer Friendly is here to help!

Our police are conducting a seat belt checkpoint this morning on Riverside Avenue (on the I-95 overpass) and for all I know, other spots around town as well. I wear a belt from habit and so breezed through but the lady in a Range Rover ahead of me was not so fortunate. Another $100 for our guardians in Hartford to spend wisely, and well.

I understand removing drunk drivers from our streets; they tend to injure and kill other people, as the recent fatality on Palmer Hill demonstrated. But seat belts? Who is put at risk, other then the driver herself, by the failure to fasten up? And why is it the business of the state, and especially, our local police, to make sure that drivers do so?

Some towns’ police forces, being busy, enforce the seat belt law only as incidental to other stops. Our guys go out and actively seek out these miscreants because, I assume, dogs off leashes aren’t occupying enough of their day. In this time of impending budget cuts I think it’s foolish for whoever assigns the patrolmen their tasks to go out of his way to demonstrate so clearly that our men and women in blue have nothing better to do. I mean, if I were on the B.E.T. and looking for personnel to cut ….


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate