The power of blogs

I feel a rising heat from Greenwich real estate agents and their managers because they blame this humble blog for ruining their fun – I’m “talking down the market” they say, and if I’d stop reporting negative news and put a sunny face of things buyers would still be willing to pay 2007 prices despite what they might otherwise hear about the national real estate market. Because Greenwich is different, or would be, if I wouldn’t spoil the party. 

Get a grip, fellas. This blog doesn’t cover real estate in Stamford, New Canaan or Darien yet those markets are as dead as ours. For that matter, England, Dubai and Spain aren’t doing so well either. Or  California, Arizona or Florida. What’s really got your knickers in knots is that your clients aren’t buying the line of bull s…. you’ve been feeding them and you don’t know what to do. Try telling them the truth – they can handle it. Or start your own blog of “Happy News” and send that to your clients – you’ll have them howling with laughter in no time.


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36 responses to “The power of blogs

  1. Retired IB'er


  2. Patrck

    I suppose you must have been a big booster during the peak years hence the huge run-up after your readers rushed out to push prices up through ’07.

    Such powers!

  3. anonymous

    Lots of self-selection in life

    Those dumb/gullible enough to believe realtor “happy talk” deserve such realtors…sort of like Bernie’s investors

    Anyone semi-intelligent appreciates a realtor/advisor who “gets it” and isn’t trying to waste everyone’s time making stuff up…

  4. MSL

    Seems the only people believing the BS anymore are our fellow agents and brokers. As long as they can convince each other that everything is fine, well then it is fine. Lotta nerve you have promoting a false consciousness. Wonder how long the perception is reality schtick will hold out when up against perceived paychecks.

  5. homeowner

    It is not your blog that upsets homeowners and brokers , it is your bias. Self aggrandizing is silly , you are but a broker in town with modest achievement , if that.
    The market is slow and you decided to hammer sellers and look only for the negative in a listing that is not yours.
    Besides you mention a house by address and sometimes by the builder (owner) name and do not respect legal limits not to defame or interfere in a business transaction.
    A more balanced view would recognize that buyers are hesitant in this market and try to explain it and present a balanced view of both sellers and buyers , you represent the seller after all as a broker
    You are welcome to write what you wish , but you have no right to inflict damages.
    It will catch up with you in court someday

    • christopherfountain

      Homeowner – it’s a tough time to be a seller and I think my comets reflect that reality, rather than a bias against sellers – because you’re right, I represent sellers, too. I have pointed out houses that I think are real bargains in this market (317 Stanwich Road, for instance) but unfortunately, there aren’t that many right now. I work a lot these days with buyers and I assure you, their sense of doubt and uncertainty make me look like the rosiest of optimist.
      But I read your comment with care and while I can’t promise that the tone of this blog will turn happy – the market is what it is and sunny it isn’t – I’ll look for the gloating tone your perceive and see about toning that down.

  6. Anonymous


    Please repost “Homeowner” today, Weds, Feb. 18th, and give it mid-day prime exposure (e.g., own thread). This one is too good to pass up!

    As for my two cents, I think you’re doing a great job! In fact, I would fault you for not doing more. IMHO, every new listing and every discussion of homes should include a sale price history for the property. This would serve two purposes: (1) empower buyers with information to make informed offers in the present market environment; and (2) put sellers on notice that extremely over priced properties will not move. In short, it will do more to bring buyer and sellers together in middle and perhaps reinvigorate the market.

    Once (detailed price history) becomes available in Greenwich, and I here it’s coming, look out below!

    The public wants full transparency!

  7. Amtrak

    From today’s WSJ: ‘The Dow is now down nearly 14% this year and 47% below its October 2007 record close’

    While sellers look back and wish they sold their property before the collapse, holding on may have been not such a bad choice. For example, if a seller sold a home for $1mm at the absolute high of the stock market and invested the proceeds 100% in stocks, their portfolio today could be worth ~$600k. But if you now a seller in 2009, you might have to discount your home price 30%. Even with that steep discount you would pull out ~$700k.

    I’m the first to admit there are plenty of holes in this calculation, including how much of your initial $1mm went into stocks/bonds, did you invest at the ultimate high or somewhere else. But regardless of the details, the analysis is accurate and is something that should help sellers feel a little better when having to discount their properties (if they ever want to sell them). Look on the bright side – your real estate holdings might have maintained greater value than your stock portfolio.

  8. Walt

    Ifeel your pain. Do what I do. Deny Deny Deny. And Alzheimers helps.
    Miss you

  9. Sambone

    Chris, The Truth hurts. Keep up the good work!

  10. Krazy Kat


    You and I have discussed this before and I have modified my view. We can’t blame the messenger because we don’t like the message.

    That said, there is a difference between blogging the facts and blogging a narrative. We know the MSM is guilty of this one so many fronts. Anobg financial blogs, Clisterstock and Dealbreaker have a very caustic view and it shows in their writing. Blodgett, love his view or not, looks for the most highly charged way to cover a story, especially if he thinks he is speaking “truth to power”. his ilk have a narrative and they wear it on their sleeve.

    On the other hand, market blogs like Calculated Risk, Accrued Interest and Across the Curve or Alea all take a more fact-based approach to writing. A reader may not like the facts or the trends they suggest, but the writers take a mostly fair view in reporting their observations.

    So Chris, keep up the good work, report the facts you know, share your opinions and consider your critics’ views accordingly. If you want to temper the snarkiness, so much the better.


  11. Chappy4me

    Gosh, if you tone down the gloating and eliminate the bias, you’d be nothing more than a cookie cutter real estate website. Your readers seem smarter than your average bear, so I say keep up the honest talk. I’m guessing writer ‘Homeowner’ is either a builder of one of the homes that languish, or a seller, foiled by an agent who told him he could get 2007 prices.

  12. Anonymous

    Christopher, were it not for the fact that we already have an excellent broker – who highly recommends your blog, btw – we would be happy to send our biz your way.
    There is that old market saying: “Never confuse genius with a bull market.”

  13. CEA

    It is a reaction as old as the hills – “Shoot the messenger”.

    Homeowner, Chris does point out bargains. But – and you can read this in the Wall St. Journal, NY Times, or any newspaper in the country or developed world, for that matter – sellers are still clinging to 18-months-ago pricing, and buyers have already fast-forwarded to today.

    If you were a buyer, you’d have no issue with Chris’ blog.

    If you were a seller 2 years ago, you’d have no issue with Chris’ blog.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average is -33% in the last 6 months. Why do you – or does any seller – think that the housing market should remain immune from basic economics?

    Supply. Way up.

    Demand. Way down.

    There are two solutions when this happens: prices come down, or people must wait.

    And finally – Homeowner – you’re selling. Where are you looking to go? Will you be buying? Tell me – will you be negotiating price? Looking at the last few months’ transactions before buying? Or the ones from 2 years ago? Maybe you’re renting – would you be looking at the most recent rentals? Or again – the prices from the ones from two years ago?


  14. edgewater

    I am disappointed that you allowed yourself to be bullied into considering toning down the so-called gloating in your blog. Is it because ‘homeowner’ suggested that your writings would catch up to you in court some day or because he/she implied that you transgressed the legal boundary of defamation? I hope that you continue your amusing and aggressive comments on local and national matters; if not, why would your readers bother to follow your column?

  15. Walt

    And read this. It will cheer you up. Now buck up fella.

    Your Buddy,

  16. Nicholas

    Chris , the truth hurts. It always has. And it always will.

    You are a courageous messenger of the current truth, namely, the shitstorm that is today’s real estate market.

    As history has shown, there are those that always prefer to shoot the messenger than face this truth.

  17. say "anything"

    Most of us plain folk agree that realtors will say anything to get a client, get a listing, sell or buy a property. They are one step above a lawyer in terms of credibility.

    Many feel realtors just ran up the price of everything to the public in the last few years using the logic to us “well, the last house on the block was this price” so of course everything is now higher.

    This blogger is happy to see your profession stewing for a while, hopefully years so prices can come back to reality (half of the usual asking prices). Sorry.

    Many frustrated buyers realize the realtor is the first to take a good deal for themselves. Why does the best house on the cul-de-sac or the nice end unit seem to be owned by a realtor or the “steal” seemed to be gone yesterday by the listing broker?

    -Mr. O. So Cinocal

  18. Kidding Really??

    Chris – I recall a friend who worked for a credit fund a few years ago telling me “just wait until the equity markets wake up to what is going on in credit”. I believe the same can be true for the real estate market around the world but maybe more so in Greenwich. Stocks have given back 10 years and in many cases of companies that employ a lot of Greenwich people… they are much worse off. Fortunes have been lost and it’s unlikely that the damage will be repaired or restored in short order. I honestly don’t believe Greenwich has any idea how mispriced homes are still… One has to start thinking inline with equity and credit valuations when pricing a home to sell. The world is resetting valuations – Greenwich is no different and not immune. Chris – what I don’t get is how brokers are not being proactive and lowering prices to sell – brokers still make commissions on lowered priced homes, right?

  19. dogwalker

    Are you basking in the sense to power? Imagine that, you single-handedly bringing down the Greenwich housing market! Wow. That’s an impressive tidbit to include on your C.V.

  20. Jack Martin

    Dear homeowner,

    Get a grip.

    Gone are the days when the local newspaper would print realtor happy talk endlessly with no dissenting view. The world changed, since the Internet shattered the monopoly of local newspapers.

    The real estate market like many others has been dominated by industry supported news that only reflects reality when it suits the advertisers. Those days are now gone.

    The simple fact is the more information a buyer has about any product the better off the buyer is.

    As more and more information becomes available sellers are forced to deliver higher quality for higher prices, not illusions and empty promises.

    I understand that sellers who have made mistakes due to imperfect information or assumptions will experience losses, but there is no rational reason for a buyer to share in their loss.

  21. semi-intelligent

    Anonymous at 1:20, I agree completely. I’m also not renewing the contract with the agent I’m currently working with because of this… Agents, TAKE HEED!

  22. Inagua


    You do not gloat. You describe reality with wit and verve. I stumbled upon you for Walt, and have stayed for the real estate and political commentary. Please keep it up. You are a pleasure and delight to read.

  23. New Buyer

    We recently started to look to buy a house in Greenwich, Riverside, maybe Rye. We have met two realtors. One spoken frankly about the market, the need for higher down payments, which houses were priced too high. The second chatted about how the town is always desirable, the homes keep increasing in value, & gave us comps from 2006 & 2007 sales. Guess which one we trusted? Hello, realtors, we are serious buyers who also happen to read the newspaper. If you want to sell us a home, offer us your honest, professional opinions and an ACCURATE perspective on the current market. If not, you come off like a used car salesman trying to pawn off a clunker.

  24. Enzo

    I read your blog several times a day. I have lived in Greenwich for almost 20 years and have enjoyed watching the real estate market from afar.

    I sat in amazement as prices climbed and homes were torn down one after another. I laughed at the prices people paid and laughed equally at the incompetence of the many brokers who were paid ridiculous commissions for providing nothing of value.

    It’s all come crashing down and I must say it’s not pleasant to watch. I think the problem some people have with your blog is not your analysis of the market, but perhaps the perceived joy you seem to take in the misery of the various builders, investors, bankers, agents, homeowners etc. I know that’s probably not the case and maybe it’s just a natural result of a collapsing market. Anyway it’s just one person’s opinion.

  25. Barbara

    Can you comment on the situation at the old Antares properties on Weaver Street and Western Jr. Highway? Are they being rented; who owns them, etc.?

    • christopherfountain

      darned if I know Barbara – I have sent your question to my ultimate source and will report back when he does.

  26. Greenwich Realtor

    Hey Mr. O so Cynical (or should I say O so stupid, not to mention bad speller!).

    You are obviously a 1 dimensional thinker. To pontificate that the brokers have such power as to manipulate housing prices is laughable. And BTW, Greenwich realtors are among the most professional you will find if you could only get your head out of your a** for just 1 moment. Enjoy your day and please, get a life……

  27. Retired IB'er

    Greenwich Realtor,

    You sure convinced me of your professionalism with your post… well maybe not.

  28. Su

    I am new to your blog within the last month (thanks to Instapundit). I think you’re great – don’t change a thing!

  29. sigma

    “the truth is so precious, its surrounded by so many lies”. Mr. Fountain, keep up the great work!

  30. Mad Monkey

    As much as I hate the current real estate market, I truly enjoy this blog. Please never change. Your blog is successful because your writing is honest, sharp, witty and smart. Though I love busting your chops, I’m actually a real big fan.

    Lastly, only new money is worried about short term pullbacks in the market. Old money? We paid cash. I’ll ride this puppy out for four generations if I have to. In the end I’m getting my $1,000 plus psft even if I have to sell this house to your great grandchildren! LOL!

    Keep up the good work.

    The Monkey lives…..

  31. Anonymous

    Homeowner is a dope!

    Real estate blogs all across the country provide the same type of analysis that this blog provides: address, price, sales history and honest critic. Get over it Homeowner and go cry me a river someplace else!

    If you’re a builder, get a life! It’s business! Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose! Perhaps you just suck at what you do for a living. Why do think that you’re entitled to a hefty profit on your investment or prohibited from losing your face like everyone else? Drop dead you loser!

    If you’re a homeowner, “God giveth, God taketh away “…….

  32. Anonymous

    Chris, is there no way to have instant commenting, i.e., without moderator review? I know you have a real job which requires you to be away from the office for long stretches during the day but the long delay in posting comments zaps the energy of the blog significantly. It’s hard to keep a fruitful, engaged dialogue/debate going. There is no reason why this blog shouldn’t have 30-100 comments per post. Try it for a few weeks and see what gives. If it doesn’t work out then you could always go back to the old model.

    • christopherfountain

      I did try no moderation – among other things, it would allow both the spontaneity you and I would both like and it would permit me to disclaim responsibility for what’s posted here (and believe me, when I make a mistake in judgment on that I hear about it, as I should). But I immediately started getting some truly obnoxious posts, filled with personal invective, which I can take, but also attacks on other people that were either unfounded, unfair or even true but not things I want to allow publicized on any blog I run. A false rumor, posted on the net, stays around forever and so I try to keep it out. And when I make a mistake I try to both correct the original posting and take down the erroneous material immediately – sometimes to the offended party’s satisfaction, often not, but I do try. Finally, there’s the Nazi rule of internet comments which states, roughly, that it only takes six comments in an unmoderated forum before someone calls someone else a Nazi. In short, the comments degenerate.
      So for now, I’ll keep moderating at the expense of speed. But I will try the unmoderated method again, perhaps in a week or so when the latest passions have cooled.

  33. Old Greenwich Builder

    Chris – You do the community a great service with your daily musings, particularly your commentary on specific real estates listings, sales, and trends.

    My only real criticism of your blog is that you (and those you seek out as advisors on valuation topics) regularly underestimate the cost of construction, i.e., site, soft, construction, and financing costs for builders. I am finding that the “fully loaded” cost of construction is often substantially higher than your back-of-the envelope calculations, based on my experience over the past many years as spec homebuilder in Greenwich. Hence, your point of view on builder profits is often HIGHLY overstated.

    Right now, there is basically NO PROFIT being made by the vast majority of builders out there (other than for custom homes, which are relatively scarce as well right now) for homes in any price category or any section of town. Most builders are losing their shirts currently, even when a sale can be achieved in this market. Unfortunately, I think it will be this way for quite some time, which is going to mean that a lot of people in the construction industry (at all levels) will continue to be out of work for a while.

    Anyway, you are a great resource to the real estate community. We very much value your observations, data, and commentary.