Daily Archives: February 7, 2009

Whew! This is a relief!

No Nebraskans among Madoff victims


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Speaking of Greenwich Time

I received this inquiry from a reader and it reminded me of my favorite Greenwich Police story (and there are so many).

  • Vicky

    Please remind me (I moved out of town a good while back) … which is/was the Greenwich weekly in the tabloid format that had the most delightfully complete Police Blotter ever? DWI … doing 55 in a 15 mph zone … drunk and disorderly … domestic violence call … shoplifting … evading responsibility (e.g., hitting a parked car and then just driving away) … you got caught at it, you were in there. Always a good read.



    The Greenwich Citizen used to have a good, juicy blotter but they seem to have lost the earnest young man who went down to the station and copied everything down and then tried to report it as he must have imagined “real” reporters did. The results were often hilarious.
    Before the Citizen was another weekly (no, not the Post) whose name I can’t recall. They had the best blotter, reporting for instance, when the Greenwich Time would not, the incident at the massage parlor/whore house in Old Greenwich when a cop doing “under the covers work” had his badge and gun stolen by some teenage punks from the housing project behind it. Such fun! Every cop in creation responded. I think they recovered the stolen items and calm was restored but our paper of record never breathed a word about it. What wussies.

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Breaking news (if July 7, 2008 is “breaking”) from Greenwich Time

Holy cow, nothing gets past Greenwich Time real estate reporters. It reveals today for the first time that Regis Philbin has bought a new house! They got that right (although he got less land, not more than his old house on Meeting House) and a lot more space: 13, 661 sf, and paid $7.2 million for the place on XX North Stanwich Road, but he bought it last summer in July, not February of this year. The last listing price for this 1997 house, by the way, was $7.995 million but if memory serves it sat on the market for a long time at a higher price tag. I’ll check tomorrow. 

The article says that Philbin’s unwanted house is priced above $5 million. Again, my memory may be faulty, but I thought it had been reduced to the 3s. But perhaps that’s just where I thought it should be priced, not where it’s currently priced. I’ll call his show and suggest it, if he still has a show. Does he?

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And while we’re bailing out Dubai investors, what about our own millionaires?

Hundreds flock to a Neighborhood Assistance Corp of America forum in Stamford for mortgage strategies (here’s a hint – it involves other people’s money).

Update: Ah, I see! The debtors are from other parts of New England. This government sponsored “non-profit” is holding its weekend forum in Stamford to draw attention to all the millionaires who live here.

Stamford sits in the midst of one of the nation’s wealthiest areas, and among the regions particularly hard-hit by the housing market collapse. Nearby Greenwich and other

suburbs are home to many of Wall Street’s wealthiest executives and financial managers. 

NACA officials say hundreds of their volunteers and participants at the weekend workshops plan to protest Sunday in front of the homes of some of those executives, sporting bright yellow shirts that read, “Stop Loan Sharks.”


Bruce Marks, chief executive officer of Boston-based NACA, said Congress and the financial industry need to be accountable for their role in the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.

“We saw this scheme out there and pleaded with Congress not to let Fannie Mae do this, or Freddie Mac,” he said, referring to the government-sponsored mortgage programs. [But having been forced to borrow money from their mean ol’ government, now it’s the government’s responsibility to pay off those loans for them. ED]

NACA organizers said more than 1,500 people signed up in advance, but they expect hundreds more to attend as walk-ins without appointments. They say a similar event last summer in Washington, D.C., drew up to 20,000 people.

Maybe I’ll try to track them down and take pictures tomorrow. Should be quite a show.

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Good lord, we simply must pass the stimulus bill and save these people!

Foreigners, deeply in debt and afraid of Muslim hospitality towards debtors are abandoning Dubai and leaving their (unpaid for) luxury cars at the airport. We can’t solve all the world’s problems but surely we can afford to bail out the Dubai real estate market and get these folks back in their homes and their cars back in their driveways. We’ll just print up another trillion or so. Better yet, let them leave their Range Rovers and Lexuses where they are and we can ship them Chryslers.

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Condo foreclosures – bad news for neighbors

The NYTimes reports on condominium foreclosures in NYC, a rare but increasing phenomenon as jobs are lost. In New York, banks take priority over condominium association liens so unpaid common charges will probably never be paid. I don’t remember my Common Interest Ownership Act law these days but back when it was first enacted in Connecticut it gave first priority to association liens. Assuming that’s still the case, you don’t have to worry so much about your neighbor going under. But the article is interesting both for its general subject matter and for its report on the state of the real estate market in New York because, sadly, what happens in New York doesn’t stay in New York; it travels out to the burbs:

We’re seeing more, especially in the higher-end buildings where you never heard of foreclosures,” said Adam D. Finkelstein, a real estate lawyer with Kagan Lubic Lepper Lewis Gold & Colbert in Manhattan. Starting last quarter, his firm began filing two or three liens a month, up from two or three per year.

While the aggregate number of liens is still small (47 in Brooklyn and 67 in Manhattan in December, for example), they may be the first sign of trouble: Liens typically lag months behind defaults in common charge payments, and the bottom didn’t truly fall out of the city’s economy until last fall.

Moreover, barring a swift economic renaissance, lawyers, managing agents and condo boards are bracing for things to worsen significantly this year as job losses mount, severances and savings evaporate, and the new reality sets in.

“The world as we’ve been living in it for the last several years has changed seemingly overnight,” Mr. Finkelstein said. “We’re at the very beginning of this.”


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25% off, but what was the right price to start with?

418 Riversville Rd

418 Riversville Rd

This is a perfectly good 1960 house, 6,777 sq.ft., updated in 1991 on 4 acres, with a pool. It was first listed at $3.495 million in 2006 and when it expired 6 months later, was passed to another broker who raised it $5,000 to an even $3,500,000 – I suppose odd figures aren’t his strong suit. He had the place for 18 months and also couldn’t sell it. Then again, the seller never dropped his price, which didn’t help. Yesterday it came back with its 3rd broker and now priced at $2.650 million. That’s about 25% less than its original listing price but the place was never worth what it was asking, so how much of this new price reflects a drop in the market and how much is merely a reflection on the over-pricing at the beginning? My personal opinion is that the new price is what the old price should have been. The 1991 “update” was fifteen years old back in 2006 and it showed its age. Of course, if $2.650 would have been the right price back then, what’s the house worth now? We may find out.


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Where’s Al Gore?

Hundreds of ice fishermen trapped on ice floe.


Relax, this thing runs on biodiesel

Relax, this thing runs on biodiesel

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Chavez watch

Venezuela owes its oil contractors billions and can’t pay. Unfortunately for Hugo, the folks he owes are foreigners and won’t work for nothing. He’s already fired all his countrymen who knew anything about producing oil and replaced them with political flunkies, so what’s he going to do now? I weep.

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela‘s state oil company is behind on billions in payments to private oil contractors from Oklahoma toBelarus, some of which have now stopped work, even as President Hugo Chavez funnels more oil revenue to social programs.

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, says unpaid invoices jumped 39 percent in the first nine months of last year — reaching $7.86 billion in September. And that was when world oil was selling for $100 a barrel.

With prices plummeting by more than half, PDVSA is trying to renegotiate some contracts. But analysts say hardball tactics to reduce charges from crucial service providers could backfire by lowering Venezuela’s oil output. And foreign debt markets are reflecting jitters about Venezuela’s finances.

Oil accounts for 94 percent of Venezuela’s exports and funds nearly half the socialist government’s budget, and Chavez uses it to bankroll an international aid bonanza, showering allies with cheap fuel, refining projects and cash donations.

But U.S. contractor Helmerich & Payne Inc. said last week that it has stopped drilling with two of its 11 oil rigs in Venezuela because of delayed payments. The Tulsa, Oklahoma, company says it will stop three more rigs by the end of February and the rest by the end of July if PDVSA doesn’t begin to pay off a debt it puts at nearly $100 million.

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Getting fired by the Greenwich Post was the best thing that ever happened to me

Otherwise, I’d be writing articles like this, which I found in the same Arizona publication that spewed the twaddle I quote in the post below. Apparently commercial real estate in Tucson has been slumping for the past 18 months, with vacancies raising from 5% to more than 11%. The reaction from a local commercial broker and reported, straight – faced, by this rag? Great news!


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Lies, damn lies and Realtor speak

The following was sent anonymously by another agent in another part of the country who also hears from angry colleagues when she reports “negative” (the two of us use the term “accurate”) news. If she uses this, she’s toast. Me? I don’t care. Here it is (don’t miss the closing comments from the interviewee’s flunky/marketing person):

Could there be a housing shortage by the end of 2009?


By Joe Pangburn
Inside Tucson Business
Published on Friday, January 30, 2009

By the end of this year, people around Tucson could well be talking of a housing shortage. So says Rosey Koberlein, CEO of Long Companies, who spoke at the Tucson Association of Realtors 2009 forecast seminar last month.

“Prices have dropped 16 percent this year, which will probably never happen again,” she said. “Between seller frustration, foreclosure properties and no new housing developments in the making, resale homes are going to be it. New home builders won’t react fast enough when things start going up and we’ll have a shortage.”

Multiple Listing Service numbers could be supporting her theory. The first week in January there were 228 properties under contract and in the second week there were 272 properties under contract. For those same two weeks a year ago, there 138 and 132 properties under contract.

She Koberlein told the Realtors “Whether you like the man or not, we have a new president who has given many people in this country hope. And hope brings confidence.” She believes the median home sales price will drop slightly during the first part of the year but then start to rise and end the year up.
“Homes will sell. Buyers will buy. And sellers will sell,” she said. “That’s all we need to focus on.”


I wanted to share an article which may help you as you work with buyers.
The attached piece recently ran in Inside Tucson Business magazine and speaks to the potential of a future Housing Shortage (yes, a housing shortage!). This is a great marketing piece to email to buyers you are working with and have handy at open houses.




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Mad Monkey, here’s your theory being put to the test

In Park City, Utah, there are few sales and no price reductions as both sides wait the other out. The real estate agents quoted think this is a good thing, long term, because when the market does rebound, prices will be waiting for it just where they are. I’m dubious but as the angry reader’s comment below points out, I’ve been wrong before.

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The Democrats talk about putting people back to work, Bernie’s doing it!

Elderly, savings lost to Madoff, forced to seek employment as supermarket clerks, flyer-distributors. And when Walt’s friends end up caddying at Round Hill, maybe they’ll stop complaining that I’m picking on him.


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Mad Monkey’s Mother writes

Chris Fountain–

Do you have Any good news to share–Shame on you! You are not supportive of the Greenwich real estate market. What’s your point? In your job as an agent, you could be more positive. Are you the prophet of doom? And what makes your opinion SO IMPORTANT??? You have been wrong many times before.

Why do I suspect that the writer is a fellow real estate agent? If we could just all get along and say wonderful things about every house for sale – how each one is in the very best neighborhood, on the very best street and perfectly priced, our market would soar! It’s nasty people like me who are ruining the party and no one will like us when we’re proved wrong. Boo hoo.


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