Daily Archives: June 3, 2009

Treasury Secretary can’t sell his Westchester home

Tim Geithner can’t sell his home, even though he’s dropped the price $25,000 below what he paid for it in 2003. So today, the WSJ reports, he’s rented it for $7,500 per month. I think it’s a good thing for our Treasury Sec to know personally what’s going on in our local housing market.


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Aw, the big bully!

BJ O’Rourke, attorney, lawyer and a member of the bar, must have sent the same threatening letter to Hookedonhouses.com, a perfectly nice website maintained by a non-lawyer, non-realtor, and browbeat her into removing her own post on beautiful 1038 Lake Avenue, even though she said nothing bad about the place at all!  (Her readers seemed to share my readers’ tastes, but why is that her fault?)

I hate to see a nice person get shut down by a bully and, fortunately, Google is here to save the day! They take snapshots of websites and preserve them so that folks like BJ can’t get ’em down. Here’s the link to the original Hookedonhouses link. Take a look, and tell me that BJ isn’t abusing his law degree.


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Ooh, I like this –

“Happily Retired Litigator” writes,

Chris!  This is almost good enough to lure me back to the practice!

I like how the sellers don’t have enough $$$ to pay their mortgage, but have enough to ask BJ O’Rourke to threaten you.  My suggested response?

“Bring it on!”

What BJ is threatening is nothing less than a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), often used by bullies with financial resources in an attempt to silence entities (such as neighborhood organizations, charities, and bloggers) which lack the financial resources to fight back.  If a court finds a legal action was brought in order to silence a critic on a matter of public interest, then the defendant in that suit (e.g., the blogger) can turn around and sue the plaintiff for a variety of damages.

According to this article


courts in Connecticut have used our state’s prohibition on vexatious litigation as the umbrella under which to protect SLAPP suit defendants and offer them recourse, as follows:

“In Connecticut, aggrieved defendants must turn to the state’s ‘vexatious litigation statute’ — which awards double damages for baseless suits and treble damages for malicious suits.”

So tell BJ and his patrons to meet you in court, understanding that when all is said and done you’ll likely end up owning that house.

Not that you’d want it.


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Letter to the lawyers

Re: 1038 Lake Avenue

Dear Attorney O’Rourke – always a distinct pleasure to hear from a brother of the bar. I’m puzzled at what you find actionable about the posting on my blog – are you unaware that it came from another real estate site (linked to in my blog -I’ll wait here while you go check). Back? See, the same pictures! Which, coincidentally enough, drew an almost identical response from that blog’s readers as my blog’s readers. It seems that, by a margin of 10 – 1, viewers find the decorating scheme off-putting. I suggest that this same distaste for the decorating may account for the house’s failure to sell. After all, to buy it, one must enter. Perhaps it could be marketed as a school for the blind?
But enough of this gay banter – I believe my posting is protected speech and well within the ethical guidelines governing real estate agents. As for your reference to my duties to your client as a member of the bar, I remain,
cordially yours but
Chris Fountain


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Letter from the lawyers

Dewey Cheatum & Howe gets excited

Dewey Cheatum & Howe gets excited


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Here’s a prediction

Prompted by  a question from IB’R, I just pulled some statistics: we have 150 spec housing units on the market, 38 condominiums, 112 single family houses. I’m unaware of a single one that is in serious danger of selling or whose builder can withstand the economic pressures banging on his head. There may be exceptions, and probably are, but I would predict that almost every single one of these will end up, soon, being sold via foreclosure or by the lender – commercial building loans, unlike home residential mortgages, have zero protections for the borrower – he defaults, the bank gets the property. Almost all of these loans have in fact defaulted, but the banks don’t want them or the hit to their balance sheet they’d take by acknowledging the non-performance so they’re holding off.

Soon, very soon, the bad portfolios will either be sold off for pennies or seized by the feds or taken over by stronger banks and all these properties are going to hit the market in one gigantic tidal wave. When a $9 million house is offered at $3 million, what do you suppose will happen to the spec house asking $8 million across the street? The banks are aware of this, of course, and haven’t acted in the hope that the market will stabilize and their bad loans can be unloaded on happy home owners at some reasonable, mitigated loss. It’s not happening and I don’t think that will happen. So watch out below. September ought to be a doozy.


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Yet another price cut below original purchase price

173 Stanwich was bought for $1.980 million in 2003, completely renovated: new baths, kitchen, wiring, lighting, etc. – and returned to the market at $3.595 in 2007. Two + years later, it’s still for sale, down today to $1.975. Nice house, too.


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There will be no micro-managing of our new government owned auto companies

Congressional hearings today on GM, Chrysler’s plans to close dealerships. Just wait unti Obama’s wiz kid, a 31- year-old with no training or experience in economics or automobiles or manufacturing and a law school drop out with “great political enthusiam” takes on his role of managing GM. We’re in the best of hands.


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ACLU outraged, demands investigation

Al Qaeda beheads British tourist. It’s a religion of piece(s).

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Here’s a guy who nailed it

CNN, May 2007: Chief economist for Standard & Poors predicts 8% decline in housing prices during next 24 months.  I guess he meant to say, at least 8%.

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Price Cuts

142 Cat Rock

142 Cat Rock

142 Cat Rock, Cos Cob. Bought new (?) in 2005 for $4.050 million, listed for sale again in 2007 at $5.450, dropped price today to $3.395. I’m not saying that’s the right price, but someone gets the picture. Speaking of pictures, this one makes the house look rather tired. Haven’t seen it in awhile so I don’t know whether it’s just a bad picture or if the house is er, depreciating, if you’ll pardon that term when referring to Greenwich real estate.

3 Roger Drive, off Baldwin Farms, sold for $5,000,000 in 2005 and asks $4.595 today.

On the other hand, there’s a new listing in Old Greenwich today, 5,600 sq. feet, water “views” and a pool, that wants $6.9 (or somewhere around that). Seems steep.


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Milbrook contract

7 Orchard Drive

7 Orchard Drive

This property, asking $2.999 million, is reported under contract today. Sellers paid $3.780 for it in 2004, relisted it for $4.895 million two years later (hey, everything in Greenwich goes up, right?) and after three years of sweating out price cuts, finally found a buyer. I’m guessing $2.475 but I’m just guessing.

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(sky provided by Realtor)

(sky provided by Realtor)

After three years on the market and seeing its price drop from $7.275 to $4.995, 351 Round Hill Road is finally reported under contract. I always liked this house, but not its price. With a $4.5 million mortgage and another $4.4 pre-judgement lien burdening its title, this should be an interesting closing.


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Pity the Madoff Boys

Left with a single rod, Mark Madoff hunts for food in Montana

Left with a single rod, Mark Madoff hunts for food in Montana

Andy and Mark Madoff are being profiled in an upcoming Vanity Fair article and excerpts indicate that they aren’t happy with the changed circumstances of their lives. Andy’s moved in with Uncle Walter on Round Hill and spends his days staring in the pool and whining to the cabana boy that he’s been treated atrociously. No one’s heard from Mark in two months but “For What It’s Worth”, never daunted, has tracked him down.

UPDATE: The VF issue hits the stands today. Summary here.


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Sometimes it’s not just the price

exterior lanemann[Edited at the request of the seller’s lawyer – sorry!]

Another real estate web site, hooked on houses, has posted an interesting collection of interior shots taken at 1038 Lake Avenue, a house that has languished hidden from the market since it was first offered for $9.7 million in 2005. It’s down to a mere  the astounding price of just $7.495 now (interesting, the latest listing doesn’t even bother to supply a description – I suspect someone’s getting tired of explaining the gloriously obvious features of this house) and, judging from the filings recorded against it in Town Hall, the sellers better get a move on before a sheriff does it for them – but that doesn’t mean that there’s even a whiff of financial distress involved here – you know public records – so often wrong!. But price alone may not be the sole reason for this house’s failure to sell. These are, according to the seller’s lawyer, “difficult times” – Boy, I hadn’t realized it but I should have, this house being dressed to kill and all that and still not selling.  Here’s what it looks like.

lanemann entranceliving roomkitchenbedroom Ilanemann bedroom

UPDATE: Reader Lisa identifies this unfortunate situation    gobsmacking example of the decorators’ art    as a product of the design team Diamond/Baratta and by gosh, shes right. Here’s their site, in which they proclaim themselves “geniuses”. Only in New York or in this case, way the hell out in the sticks of out in bucolic Greenwich. Which gives me a thought: the owner of this house might be able to sell it back to the boys from NY to raze praise, and bury their mistake use as a demonstration of their brilliance forever. What price, genius?


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Bottom story of the day, from Greenwich Time

Locust Street sewer repair has minimal problems. Picture the poor young reporter, alone in an otherwise-empty newsroom, all his peers having long since been reduced in force, dreaming of a Pulitzer, and the stories he’ll discover to earn that prize. Did John Tesei really have to repeat Second Grade at Cos Cob School? What’s Franklin Bloomer doing on a $10,000 bicycle that he charged to the Land Use Commission? Sure he said he’d found it in his attic, but there are no attics in town anymore – they’re not allowed. If ….

Suddenly his  fat, rumpled editor bursts from the bathroom, used these days as an office, too, and looks around, bewildered. “Where’s Dumas? Yudain? Lane, Kent? ”

“All gone, Boss. I think they’re starting their own blogs.’

“Great Caesar’s ghost! Well you’ll have to do this job, kid, what’s your name – forget it, you won’t be here next week anyway. Listen: there’s a story breaking on Locust. A catastrophe! Disaster! I hate to send a kid out, but you’re all we have. Can you handle it? You’ll have to! Grab a pad and pencil and get over there, now!”

And he goes – this story is the result. Of such stuff publishing legends are made.


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