Daily Archives: May 15, 2009
49 North Stanwich Road burned up yesterday. I just saw the place last week (no, I dropped no matches) and it was pretty much a tear-down. We were there to look at the land it sat on which, to my client and me, didn’t compare to other sites. What I find interesting is that this property is part of the huge 27 acre piece on 309 Taconic that’s been for sale at a steadily-declining price for years now. The owner has tried a high sales price ($36 million) a low sales price ($13 million) an auction at a middle sales price ($19 million) and nothing has worked. The poor guy is already burdened with a non-performing mortgage so the loss of this irreplaceable house with all its memories will surely add to his sorrows, no matter what it was insured for.
Which percentage depends on whether you believe Deutsche Bank or those Gloomy Gusses at Goldman Sachs. This will shock you, but Greenwich isn’t much different than New York City, this time. Here are some of the troubles that are coming but have yet to arrive:
Liquidation of failing banks’ loan portfolios at $0.50 on the dollar. We have several local banks on the brink, all of which loaned money to builders and homeowners who no longer have the wherewithal to pay those loans. The list of deeds in lieu of foreclosure already accomplished is disheartening. The number of mortgage loans about to join that list is breathtaking. There’s a wave of distress sales coming that will wash over Greenwich and bring prices down with it.
Commercial loans. These have been holding up so far in Greenwich because the borrowers had such substantial financial strength. That’s no longer true and the banks that have been holding off on moving against these loans will now proceed. That should wipe out even more developers.
All this is based partly on guess work, partly what I know, and partly on my gloomy assessment of the economy to come. Feel free to disagree and do as you wish. I predict that the residential and commercial real estate markets will be in a complete tailspin by the end of the summer and will keep falling for a long time. When it does stop, we’re in for several years of few sales and depressed homeowners. If I’m right, then if you’re thinking of selling your house in the next 3-4 years, you might want to list it now and take what you can get.
Or don’t. Plenty of smart real estate people think I’m nuts, and they’re probably right. I will point out one last thing: those of you still holding on to prices levels on your houses that failed to produce a buyer at the height of the market, and there are lots of you, are still priced way above where the market was in 2007, say. To get your price, the market is not only going to have to stop falling, it will have to climb to new record highs. It amazes me how many seemingly-smart people think that’s going to happen by September.
Leon Panetta, The One’s hand-picked man to head the CIA, says CIA didn’t lie to Pelosi – so I guess she must be the liar, eh? This is getting to be such fun. Bring on the Truth Commission!
UPDATE: The NYT: “Focus on torture a gamble for democrats“. Ya think? Actually, it’s less a gamble than a lead-pipe cinch – Most Americans will applaud our guys torturing these fine people, especially if they revealed information as the result.
Here’s some of the fun stuff from the Times:
An incident at a news conference by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., showed just how nervous the Democrats have become.
Asked whether hearings on the Bush policies would open the door for an inquiry into Pelosi’s intelligence briefings, Hoyer responded: ”What was said and when it was said, who said it, I think that is probably what ought to be on the record as well.”
But the biggest sign that the effort could backfire politically came from President Obama.
On April 21, addressing congressional proposals for a bipartisan commission to study the interrogations, the president said: ”I do worry about this getting so politicized that we cannot function effectively and it hampers our ability to carry out critical national security operations.”
If Obama is right, Democrats could be perceived as harming national security. That would be a major stumble that could give the Republicans an issue in next year’s congressional elections.
The One is looking into revamping short-sales – the process by which a homeowner walks away from his house owing nothing and the lender takes a haircut on the debt. This relief isn’t available for homeowners who have other assets to satisfy their debts but, sadly, many don’t. And anything that can streamline and speed up the process will help start clearing out the clutter. Right now, short sales can take months and, in my experience, up to a year before a bank satisfies itself that there’s no blood in the stone left to squeeze, that the proffered price from a buyer is the best they’re going to get, etc. In the meantime, the house sits on the market, dragging down other prices around it, and no one benefits. For too long, Washington has focused solely on helping people keep their houses when, in many cases, that’s an impossible dream. Recognizing that fact and addressing it is a wise decision, in my opinion.
For example, that failed builder in Old Greenwich has lost two spec houses to his lender, the wacko Victorian on Park Avenue South and the more conventional colonial next to the sewer-pumping station on West End Avenue. Buyers have been ready to close on both houses since December and yet nothing has happened. It would be good for everyone involved if something moved, so one cheer for Obama for understanding this.
UPDATE: I no sooner posted this than I saw that the Park Avenue house did finally sell today. $1.425, on an original asking price of $2.777 million. The house was never worth anything close to that first price but, odd design or not (and I rather liked it), $1.4 is a real value.
Commercial real estate developer sues lenders claiming they loaned him too much money. BusinessInsider is more sympathetic to this fool than I am, but I’m sure it’s just the first of many such suits.
Congress, chomping at the bit to stir up a trade war, has banned the use of Stimulus funds for anything of foreign manufacture. This is not pleasing to our largest trade partner (and the balance is hugely in our favor) the Canadians. You really want to turn your medical care over to these yokels?
In order to save polar bears, the econuts got CFCs banned from asthma inhalers years ago and that ban is now in place. The substitute doesn’t seem to work, according to this article, but does that matter? Not at all – asthmatic inhalers were exactly zero of the supposed CFC problem to begin with butit’s the symbolism that counts!Like so many liberal boondoggles – worker retraining programs, welfare, public housing, that something is an abject failure is a matter of indifference just so long as the motive is noble. Gotta love these folks. Unless you like to, you know, breath.
Walt Noel, busy finding new social venues now that Round Hill Club is off limits (yes I know the club manager denied that Walt had been booted but (a) what would you expect a manager to say and (b) it’s more fun to go with the original story) sends this link to CityFile and its coverage of a party up at Peter Brant’s house. I obviously travel in the wrong circles.
Peter Brant is in the middle of a messy divorce with his wife Stephanie Seymour. But that didn’t keep him from the opening party for his new private museum this past weekend. A long list of art world A-listers headed over to his 53-acre estate in Greenwich on Saturday to have a look around The Brant Foundation Art Study Center. (And despite all the personal drama as of late, Brant looked “dashingly handsome,” according to the Journal.) Seymour wasn’t present, naturally. Not physically, at least. But guests walking around the space did get to see Maurizio Cattelan‘s sculpture of a naked Seymour clutching her breasts, which, as the WSJ‘s Jeffrey Podolsky observes, “pokes out like a pair of deer’s antlers over the fireplace” in Brant’s library. He’s not kidding. The rather striking piece of art that Brant will always have to remember Seymour by is below.
This little house on Irvine was first listed at the aggressive price of $1.699 million three years ago. It finally went to contract in January and closed yesterday at $1.143.5, or 67% of that first price. It’s a good deal for the buyer, I think – Irvine’s a nice road and the house isn’t bad at all – but I wonder whether the seller might have received more a long time ago if he’d started at a more reasonable price.
26 Amherst Road, north of the Post Road in Riverside, is reported under contract today. It too started high at $925,000 a year ago and only when it finally dropped its asking price to $760 did it attract a buyer. Lesson: if you want to wait out the market and don’t have to sell, pull your house now and sit back. If you do have to sell, or want to sell, price it appropriately and get on with things.
Nancy Pelosi, trapped in her web of lies about waterboarding and when she knew of it, has issued at least five different version of her “facts”, only to be forced to abandon each one as her lies were exposed. Yesterday she totally lost it and used the old Mitt Romney tactic of admitting she knew what she was told but the CIA was lying! “Yeah, that’s it, I was lied to? Poor me! Oh, boo hoo hoo!”
Might work in California, where feelings count as facts, but no one in Washington is buying it, including the Washington Post. Pray for the health of our President and VP, because this sorry spectacle is next in line to replace them.
A left-leaning reader takes me to task for my claim that, aside from some Eastern effetes, no one in America gives a good goddamn whether terrorists were treated to a little water up the nose. “Get over it,” he advises, “Obama won the elction!”
Well I’ve seen no evidence if that, have you? The latest decsion by the man who would be king? He’s resuming military trials for Gitmo terrorists. I think Bush / Cheney struck a deal: Obama could ruin the economy while they continued to conduct the war on terror. So far, both sides seem to be keeping their bargain.
Have you considered the exciting career of caretaker? Travel to exotic locales, do a little mopping and pretend that the mansion you’re living in is still yours! The Times reports that there are plenty of empty mansions out there, many bank-owned, just crying for attention. So if you’ve been displaced from Round Hill and would love to get back to Aspen for the summer, here’s your chance.