Back from the principal’s office

Well they sure make principals nicer these days – nothing like being hauled into the disciplinarian’s office at GHS back in the day. Anyway, I had a very nice talk – what’s the diplomat’s term: a frank and fruitful discussion” – with the President of the Greenwich Association of Realtors. She’s a great person, one whom I like and respect enormously, so I went to our chat with a real feeling of sympathy – she’s getting pressure, and when did she volunteer for that crap?

I readily admit to being a flawed human being – ask God or my children or just read this blog – so I was open to suggestions as to how I could make her job easier. Eh – probably not much. I can certainly think twice before posting something (I already do that, often, so I’ll try to think thrice) and other that that, there was no suggestion that I stop reporting what I see to be the truth. Which speaks well of the GAR, in my opinion.

One suggestion for offended realtors: don’t call your President, or my manager, or send me anonymous emails. Call or write me and, as the few who have tried that approach know, I will always correct any factual errors and my policy is to make the correction more prominant than the original error. I rarely bite.


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18 responses to “Back from the principal’s office

  1. Helsa Poppin

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. Much as I enjoy your blog, I am sympathetic to the concerns of sellers. I don’t think your posts are damaging anything except people’s feelings, but I’m sure you understand that a lot of folks, particularly those compelled to sell in this economy, are a bit fragile right now.

    We all criticize sellers and their agents for pricing like it’s 2007. But what is the alternative? As a potential buyer, I find myself automatically discounting the LP by 30%, and I’m sure other buyers do the same. If the seller tries to price at what he honestly believes the market will bear, he can expect far-below-market bids in return. Also, his house will be overlooked by those who have confined their search to a particular range. I’ve already seen a couple of houses where the listing price was %x, and the broker told us up front that the seller was willing to accept 80% of that value. Are we approaching a system where there are two prices attached to every house: the nominal price that secures your place in the listings book, and the actual price that is the seller’s real starting point for negotiations? Not to mention the seller’s unstated reserve price.

    I think it’s good to throw cold water on people’s unrealistic expectations, but it might be going too far to blame individual sellers and their agents for the ludicrous listing price in the absence of evidence that they are unwilling to negotiate. I do think people who respond to legitimate, if low, offers by discounting their overinflated price by $1 and huffing and puffing about being offended become fair game for mockery.

    • christopherfountain

      Good points, Helsa. I just posted what I think is an excellent alternative – not my own, I’m not that smart – but a method that is bound to be better than what sellers are doing now.
      The trouble with inflated values is that it scares off bidders. Worse, I know of instances where I know what the seller will actually accept, even though she’s been maintaining her ask price a million above it, and then watched that same seller be “offended” by a bid within 15% of what she is willing to accept. Why? because she compared the bid to what she was asking! Irrational? You betcha, but typical.

  2. FlyAngler


    If only you could know with certainty who might be the loudest and most frequent complainers?

    As you and I have discussed, some brokers seem to convince prospective sellers of their house’s worth just to get the listing. Sadly, like most sellers, folks are inclined to pick the highest estimate rather than the most realistic/honest one.

    Then, when you point out the disconnect between the listed price and the market’s current values, the embarrassed broker has to blame you rather than their overzealous original estimate. Complaining about your missives also provides the broker with a fig leaf when their client complains about the lack of traffic or “insulting” bids.

    Glad to hear the “principal” took it easy on you. One question though, did you get your knuckles rapped with a ruler (or the current MLS book)?

    • christopherfountain

      Fly, because of all our unsold inventory, it would have been cruel and unusual punishment to hit me with the MLS book – its weight and thickness puts the NYC phone book to shame.

  3. But you have committed a public truth telling, and done it without an official permit. Good Friday offers an example of the usual outcome of that course of action.

  4. FlyAngler


    What you just described is the crux of the problem with the Fed’s TALF/PPIP schemes. Certain sellers (the large commercial banks) carry loans and securities at a certain price, say 90.

    A “sober” investment bank reports his balance sheet with values in the “low 50s”.

    The only liquidity in the market is through vulture buyers who are willing to pay something approximating 30-40, depending on the asset’s particulars.

    The government has to bridge that divide without bankrupting the large banks (by facilitating sales at the current vulture bids) and without screwing we taxpayers (by paying too much).

    This is the nature of stressed and illiquid markets and only time will resolve the pricing mismatch.

  5. FlyAngler


    Glad my litte joke did not go unappreciated.

    Are you going to Town Hall this afternoon for the Tea Party? Or, are you worried about announcing where you will be at a given place/time in this public forum???

    If you are worried, I will watch your back.

    • christopherfountain

      For my sins, Fly, I have to leave now for the Stamford DMV. But I plan to head over to the tea party after that, assuming I escape DMV alive.

  6. Anonymous

    given that you are working with 8 buyers (see previous post) which appears to put you ahead of most other Greenwich brokers – one would think that some of them would have a light bulb turn on and instead of complaining, give you a bit of competition in the blogosphere

  7. Walt

    Dude –
    YOU SUCK UP!! You sold out, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU!!!
    What did she get you with? Sergent at Arms title? Imperial Wizard? I hope you didn’t settle for a stinking new merit badge. You sicken me. I knew you would fold like a house of cards, you weasel.
    Now we are going to read how GREAT the Greenwich real estate market is. You just wait and see.
    Anyway, enough about you.
    Off to Lunch!!!
    You Pal,

    • christopherfountain

      Well okay, Walt, I did, but you should see the merit badge she gave me: “Bestest Realtor in the World”! With a cool little gold ribbon. I mean, every man has his price, as you know.

  8. Retired IB'er

    Glad it worked out.

    Be interesting to see if your detractors accept your invitation to voice their views. Would make for interesting debate if discussions are “fact based” as opposed to emotionally driven.

  9. Inagua

    Did the matter of the upcoming GAR study touting the investment value of Greenwich housing come up? The principal says the “vibrancy” of this investment opportunity “can be attributed” in part to “the competence and caring of the local realtors–all the amenities and values that typically appeal to people when evaluating their investment strategy.” Do you consider yourself at liberty to comment on this report? Will you link the full report when released on May 21st?

    • christopherfountain

      I’m unaware of that “study”, Inagua, though it sounds more like a PR piece than a study, but I will certainly get a copy of it and we can all have fun disecting it on these pages!

  10. Walt

    You know Chris, the more I learn about the sleazy world of real estate in which you live, the more I find it is VERY SIMILAR to alternative investment vehicles (who even knows what that means??) and hedge funds (and just what are they, exactly??) Dunno.
    You have your secret society – The GAR – BOOOO!!! And we have ours. Everyone in your club sells over priced product every day. We do the same thing. And you guys have better commissions!!! How did you manage to finagle that? You get merit badges, we get deal toys – it’s the same friggin thing. So everyone in your club knows the deal. And the sellers real estate agent works for seller, and the buyers real estate agent works for the seller too. Right? Do I have that right, or is it the Alzheimers? What a great scam you guys run. Kudo’s my friend.
    Anyway, I knew you would fold today, and I forgive you, you weak, weak man. You got a commission deal from the GAR Poobah and took it. I can relate, Dude.
    Anyway, enough about you.
    Did you see this article? They are covering me from Australia, for Pete’s Sake. I love panda’s and kangaroo’s!! Anyway, this guy pretty much gets it right, blaming Tucker and all. Even though he calls him a co-founder of FGG, which is friggin wrong.
    But what really PISSES ME OFF is he calls the Filly’s PONY’S (S.I.H) for Petes Sake. What are they? AMUSEMENT RIDES???

    Thanks for letting me vent.
    Gotta go WORM!!!!
    Your Pal,

  11. Peg

    Christopher, you are doing something that some people consider horrific, despicable and worthy of scorn: you are telling the truth.

    Take heart that some applaud you for it (including yours truly).

  12. Walt

    You know, Chris, being a socialite, or bon viviant? Bon vivant? Oh heck, a man about town, can get old. So I decided to hang in tonight, and get caught up on stuff. I was going to do my taxes. Wait, who am I kidding?? I haven’t paid taxes in years, for Pete’s Sake. Now that I think of it, maybe never. As the late, great Leona said, “paying taxes is for the little people”. That would be you Chris. Not that you probably owe taxes, as you haven’t seen a commission check since I was in diapers. No wait – I am in diapers now!! You haven’t seen a commission check since Bernie last made a trade. And as we now all know, that has been a while.
    Anyway, I was bored, so I decided to re- read your post about your meeting with the GAR (BOOOOOO) again. Allow me to critique, so the readers of this blog can understand your secret realtor code. And the evil world in which you reside.

    The WHOLE first paragraph, you admitted you are a weasel, and you are joining the dark side. That is crystal clear. You were, in reality, crapping your pampers when you first arrived (if you were smart enough to take my advice and wear them), then suddenly realized she was willing to cut you a deal, and not cut you out of the secret society, which is what you expected, so you decided to sell your soul. YOU KNOW I am correct my friend.

    Second Paragraph. Flawed human being? That is too easy, even for me. I could do ten pages on that, but it would be like beating a dead hors… Uh – it would be like taking candy from a baby. So I will pass.

    You want to make her job easier? Why? Because you joined the club, you traitor.

    And the pice’ de resistance? The pie of resistance? Oh heck. Forget it. And S.I.H. You correct errors that you print Chris? After all the vile lies you have told about FGG? In SPITE of my irrefutable proof? Very hollow.

    Anyway, did you tell her Andres joke? It was a killer!!

    Now I feel better, and I think I will go out!!
    Off to BASIL’S!!!
    Your Pal,

  13. Cos Cobber

    Hey Walt, pandas live in China, not Austrailia.

    Otherwise, carry on…