Daily Archives: December 11, 2008

Say goodnight, Arnold

As written about earlier this week, California has gone ahead and enacted a “global warming” law that should finish off any businesses that have managed to survive the previous decades of over-regulation and taxation. If this were South Dakota it wouldn’t matter much but, at least a few years ago, California had the seventh largest economy in the world. This should take care of that.

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It can’t happen here

Well  I don’t think so at least, but  I was surprised to read that residential sales in Lake Forest have slowed to a crawl. I mention this because that town’s demographics seem to be a lot like ours.

As of the census of 2000, there were 20,059 people, 6,687 households, and 5,329 families residing in the city. Thepopulation density was 1,189.4 people per square mile (459.1/km²). There were 7,001 housing units at an average density of 415.1/sq mi (160.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.80% White, 1.35% African American, 0.06% Native American, 2.45% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 0.44% from other races, and 0.77% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.87% of the population.

There were 6,687 households out of which 39.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 73.6% were married couples living together, 4.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.3% were non-families. 18.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.17.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 19.7% from 25 to 44, 28.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $136,462, and the median income for a family was $165,512. Males had a median income of $100,000+ versus $44,083 for females. The per capita income for the city was $77,092. About .15% of families and .2% of the population were below the poverty line.


Lake Forest is famous in Chicago for its history of polo, being once the farthest-west establishment of the sport in the US

Rich folks and polo – that’s us, right?

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Filed under current market conditions

Rumor mill re: William Pitt Sotheby’s

Word is going around that Casey Jones and Paul Bruenich have sold their interest in the William Pitt Sotheby’s franchise. To whom? Details as we get them.

The ownership of Sotheby’s is a bit complicated, at least to this writer. Sotheby’s Greenwich agents insist that they’re independent of Realogy and have a separate source of cash. This article would seem to indicate otherwise:

William Pitt joins Sotheby’s

William Pitt Real Estate announced that it has affiliated with Sotheby’s International Real Estate under an agreement that provides for expansion for William Pitt into other key markets in Connecticut. William Pitt is a luxury market leader based in Stamford (CT) that accounted for more than $2 billion in closed sales volume in 2004.

Twenty-one of William Pitts’ 24 offices will remain independently owned by L. Casey Jones and Paul E. Bruenich. They will do business as William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.

William Pitt and Sotheby’s announced that NRT/Sotheby’s has acquired the other three William Pitt offices in Greenwich, Old Greenwich and Marbledale (CT) which will now operate as Sotheby’s International Realty. 

I’ll try to sort this out tomorrow.


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What’s mine is mine and what’s your’s is mine

Tra la la la la, la la la la.

John Paul Tudor Jones strings up Christmas lights, suspends redemptions.

(Hat tip, Tom K)

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Bad, if not unexpected news

Wall Street bonuses to be slashed at least 50%, 170,000 jobs lost.


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Board Games?

324 Overlook Drive (Milbrook) was reported sold today for $1.740 million. That’s nice for the seller but I find it curious that our MLS board’s records show only a listing price of $1.995 million and not the original price of $2.375. At the higher of the two, the selling price represents a 27% discount. Since that’s what’s actually happening in our market, I’d think it would be useful to have eay access to that information.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, current market conditions

Circle Drive

26-circle-drive26 Circle Drive has an interesting history. Marshall Heaven, a good builder here in town, owned the land in 2006 but must have changed his mind about building on it because he offered it for sale for $850,000 in November ’06. In July, ’07 the present builder bought it for $712,000 and then he, too must have gotten cold feet because he put it back on in January of this year for $890,000. No third builder could be found so construction on the house began early this year. And now it’s finished.

I toured it today. It’s, okay, as  spec houses in this price range ($2.1 million) go, and has a very large back yard (with a drain smack in the middle of it, suggesting the presence of water – then again, drains are supposed to take care of that sort of thing). I think it’s a pre-fab but I don’t have a problem with that. Nice trim work and floors, a cheesy, to my taste, Palladium window in front and a fair bit of noise from I-95; Circle Drive is, as they say, “convenient to transportation”. I wish the builder had spent the extra money to run some steel I-beams in the basement instead of using pillars which break up what would otherwise be a ton of usable space and I have a prejudice against acrylic bathtubs – no particular reason, I just prefer porcelain. All that said, the biggest impression I took away from this house was how the market has changed. Its price just a year ago or maybe two, wouldn’t have seemed outrageous. But as I drove around the neighborhood I noticed at least four more houses under construction all or most of which, I imagine, are spec houses. If so, then there is a lot of competition to this house about to come on the market and a careful shopper can probably find the one builder in the most trouble and get a house here for a really low price. And if that happens, just to reopen the debate we’ve all so enjoyed here on these pages, the other 4 house’s prices will have to chase it downward.

Or that’s what I think. Your opinion may differ.


Filed under spec houses

More on 33 Highview

So I stopped by the place today during the open house tour – nicely done, with decent hardware and trim, but like most houses on that street, not much of a yard, especially with half the rear yard devoted to driveway. I know that south of the Village is always desirable but I do wonder whether it’s desirable enough to induce someone to pay this much. That may prove a challenge.

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Filed under Old Greenwich, spec houses

Market adjustments

12 Loading Rock Road in Riverside (north of Post Road) is owned by a builder who’s changed his mind about proceeding. It was first offered for sale in April for $1.275 million, expired unsold and today has returned at a 30% mark-down, $899,000. That’s not a price that will tempt another builder, I wouldn’t think, because he’d have to get well over $2,000,000 for his finished product and, these days, a 0.30 acre lot with water views but no waterfront would have, in my opinion, difficulty achieving that price. It might make sense for a homeowner who plans to stick around for ten years.

Or not. Stay tuned.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, pricing, Riverside


2-old-stone-bridge 2 Old Stone Bridge Road has finally found a buyer. Owned (or handled, anyway) by a relocation company, it was originally listed in March for $2.595 and has seen a succession of price cuts since before eventually landing at $1,995,950 – a number that suggests a grudging employee at the relo who resented every cut. I liked the house – it sits up on a hill, was nicely renovated by its current owners and had a very nice in-law or teenager suite above the garage. Unlike some houses I’ve seen that are just wildly over-priced, I think this one’s difficulties selling had more to do with the market than anything else.

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Filed under Contracts, Cos Cob, current market conditions, Neighborhoods

Someone’s still got money

Vail Village
Vail Village

 Ski revenues are down at Vail but they’re piling up cash from real estate sales.  Must be all those real estate agents looking for a holiday home.

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Oddly un-reassuring

Mets add Putz to bullpen

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Who will miss the local paper?

I’m pretty sure I would and I’m also pretty sure I’ll soon find out. From reader Tom K. comes this link to an article that takes the opposite view.

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Good gosh, now they’re overbuilding at the North Pole

Courtesy of reader Brian S, comes news of this new mansion:

Available from Williams Sonoma for just $249.95 (delivery unavailable). Perhaps we’ll see it for rent after Christmas.gingerbread-house

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Filed under spec houses

Will renting save spec builders?

33-highviewThe history of 33 Highview in Old Greenwich offers an illustrative recapitulation of recent real estate history. Offered as a teardown in May, 2006 for $1.150 million, it  sold in 3 days for $1.175 million. The buyers built the house you see above and put that up for sale in May, 2008 for $3.550 million and eventually dropped it to $3.395. It’s still for sale but today it was also listed as a rental, asking $12,000 per month. Let’s do some math (CEA, please feel free to unleash your HP and correct me) : assuming they spent $1,000,000 building the place (I think that’s conservative), they have $2,175,000 into this place. If they borrowed 80% of that, annual interest at 6% would cost them $104,400 and annual rent would yield $144,000, leaving a comfortable cushion to pay real estate taxes ( $25,000, est.)  and allow them to hang on until a better market.

But if any of those assumptions are wrong: if they spent more than $1,000,000, if they can’t rent it for $12,000, if they borrowed more than 80% or paid more than 6% on the loaned money (and construction loans are probably much higher than that), then that cushion starts to get thinner.

I’m seeing a lot of spec houses trying this route – I wonder how many will negotiate it safely.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich, spec houses

20 Hiddenbrook revisited

Here’s the listing information for this house, with more pictures.

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Filed under Neighborhoods, Riverside

Even (Stamford) waterfront has its limits

123 Wallaks Drive

123 Wallaks Drive

This 2003, direct waterfront home on Shippan Point came on for sale this spring at $5.6 million and has yet to sell. Today it was marked down 30% to $3.6 million. I’ve always had a problem with the approach to Shippan: past the sewage plant and car dealers, etc. but once there it’s awfully nice. And this house looks great. You certainly couldn’t find a relatively new house on an acre of direct waterfront for anything close to this price in Greenwich but then again, this isn’t in Greenwich.


Filed under Neighborhoods, Waterfront