Daily Archives: July 2, 2009

Manhattan real estate sales off 50 %

That’s the word from the big brokers. As in Greenwich, recent sales activity has picked up but that’s dismissed by most as just a seasonal phenomenon. Best guess? Dismal sales coming up, another 25% drop in values.

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That crazy Walt

While Ruth Madoff licks her wounds at Walter’s Round Hill retreat the old fox himself is in LA, organizing MJ’s memorial service where, word has leaked, mourners will be charged $25 a pop to mourn the little white pederast. You can’t keep a good man down.

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Foreclosures

Heard from a lawyer that there were 110 foreclosures on this week’s court calendar in Stamford. The Stamford courthouse just handles cases from Stamford, Norwalk and Greenwich, so 110 is a lot – in my day, the foreclosure calendar was tiny and I’m pretty sure 12 cases would have been a busy week.

I also heard, and I can’t vouch for this, that in New York the foreclosure courts are running 12 hour days and have an 18 month backlog that’s growing every day. Supposedly – again, this is what I heard, not what I’ve bothered to verify, 27% of all Wells Fargo loans in NYC aren’t paying. If true, it certainly isn’t just Wells Fargo that’s being hammered.

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Bottoms up!

Court overturns gay sex ban.

Soohee!

Soohee!

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Ten contracts today

I wouldn’t say that the floodgates have opened but things were obviously moving recently if we had ten contracts reported today. Forty Zaccheus Mead has finally found a buyer, far too late to save its builders from taking a deep bath but at least they’re rid of the monster. $11.2 million or some such foolish number when first listed for sale in 2007, it’s 15,000 square feet crammed onto a postage stamp lawn. If you’re all hat and no cattle and want to live in house that matches, this was the one for you. Last price was $6.995 and the builders turned down offers of $4, $5 and even $6 million, so apparently they found their man. Bet he’s from out of town, eh?

As is the buyer for 30 Nearwater, I hear. No comment here, other than to say again, thank goodness for such folks who want the Greenwich lifestyle and don’t care what they pay to get it. We love you, and welcome to the neighborhood.

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Where’s Ruthie now?

Federal Marshals seized Madoff’s penthouse today. Ruth Madoff’s whereabouts are unknown but I find it curious that a small moving van was seen pulling into 175 Round Hill Road this morning (no, I didn’t see it, but Front Row Phil did, and he told me all about it). Walter, you dog, are you really going to have seven women in your house?

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Buy this house!

66 Indian Head Rd

66 Indian Head Rd

And the land it sits on. Three separately deeded lots for a total of 3.4 acres, with an old Mead house and the former stables of Dolly the misbehaved Shetland. This is probably the last chance to find 3 acres in Riverside in such a good location and while the total asking price of $6.8 million seems steep, someone with cash, good negotiating skills and a desire to have a great big yard could do very well here. Or heck, build what you want on one lot and hold the other two in reserve for when the kids are ready for college. A land bank, so to speak.

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Come back, Chase!

I'm too good for Summit Road!

I'm too good for Summit Road!

I’ve written before about my childhood friend, Chase Carey, and pointed out that he’d done okay for himself despite growing up in a modest home on Summit with (gasp) just one bathroom he shared with his parents and brother Doug and (Meg? His sister, anyway). Now comes news that he may make $43 million this year – Chase, it’s time to ditch LA and return to your roots. I’ve got a couple of houses you might like, all with at least two full baths. Call me – we’ll do lunch. I want you to meet my friend Walt, too, ’cause he’s got some ideas that’ll blow your socks off.

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More contracts

29 Field Point

29 Field Point

This lovely old carriage house has gone to contract after four years on the market and it’s about time. It’s a bit quirky, perhaps, but for the right buyer, a really, really nice house. I’ve always liked it but unfortunately, the two buyers I showed it to couldn’t make it work for their families. The owners paid $3.2 million for it in 2002 and did a complete renovation – no chasing dust bunnies from under the beds here, but a new kitchen, new baths, new mechanicals, etc. Very well done, too. They put it up for sale for $6.995 million in October, 2005 and I think the house was too unique to succeed at that price, even in those heady days. After all this time, they finally lowered it to $4.995 and that seems to have done the trick. The assessed value is just $3.412, by the way, so I’ll be curious to see how Belle Haven fares against that measurement.

This rash of activity is beginning to throw some useful data our way so that prices can be more accurately estimated – we’d been pretty much operating on a “beats me” theory of pricing due to the dearth of comparable sales. We can certainly tell that prices have declined – that sale at 52 Round Hill, for instance, will be less than $2.6 million and it sold for $3 million in 2000 – and with that, maybe we’ll establish a floor. An example that, were I its builder, could be useful to the spec house on Buxton Lane in Riverside is yesterday’s sale on Welwynn. Welywn, fairly new (2003) construction, sold for $2.850, the Buxton house is asking something like $2.7 million. Buxton, with its exposure to I-95 noise and dirt, has got to be worth a lot less than a house on Welwyn – I’d guess a million, but maybe that’s too severe. Whatever the difference, the Buxton builder should check Welywn’s sales price and adjust his own accordingly. As these sales trickle in, serious sellers will be able to make that same calculation in all areas of town, and that’s a good thing for sellers and buyers. I think everyone has been paralyzed by having to operate in the dark.

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Contracts!

38 Quail Road

38 Quail Road

Five already today, and at some relatively high (under $3 million, but heck) prices. I happen to know a fair amount about this Quail Road transaction and can say that, while the price will come in quite a bit less than its original ask of $2.95 million, it’s high enough that no one on Quail need fear that their land’s value has evaporated. Using the 70% assessed value measurement of $2.505 million the buyer did somewhat better, but this was not a firesale price. And there are a couple of lessons here: the buyers originally were looking for new construction but everything for sale was so large and, for the most part, so ugly, that they decided to build what they wanted instead. Then, when they started looking at land, it quickly became apparent what decent building lots on good roads were worth but several sellers refused to believe that they wouldn’t get their price. These buyers were not looking to steal anyone’s land but they weren’t going to overpay just to satisfy a seller’s dreams.  So a number of sellers still have their land, and these buyers have theirs. I assume that makes everybody happy.

One seller who may not be as happy is the owner of 52 Round Hill Road, who paid $3.0 million for his place in 2000, tried selling it for $4.4 million in 2008 and had to lower it in February to $2.6 million. The fact that he only found a buyer today makes me suspect that he’s going to end up far below 2000’s price.

284 Riverside Avenue, an 0.38 building lot (with a house, temporarily), listed at $999,000 and sold today for $930,000. Assessed value was $1.1 million, by the way, so now you know what this sized building lot, in this location, is worth.

30 Nearwater Lane, relisted yesterday at $2.695, turns out to have been returned to the market solely to record a contract today, and I’m pleased for its builder. He tried $3.195 originally but after this long a period, I’m sure he’s relieved to be almost done with the job.

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Apologies to Gila Lewis

I wrote, some months back, about a sale on Jofran Lane posted on our MLS “for reporting purposes only” and I dismissed the asking price as “an imaginary, made up figure” because the property had never been openly for sale. Gila Lewis, the selling agent, feels that I implied she had falsely reported something to the board and, on reflection, I guess I did imply that, even though that’s not what I intended. Gila is an excellent agent and a even better person so I’m sorry that I wrote what I did. Which doesn’t mean that I give any weight to asking prices in these situations because who can tell how real that price was? If, say, Welwyn Road is listed for $3.650 million and goes to contract at $2.850 sixty-six days later, then you can bet that first price was real. Or Bobolink, priced at $9, sells two years later for $5 – the owner, however deluded, truly was asking for $9 million.

When 58 Dawn Harbor sold the other day for $12 million plus, I know that’s the true selling price but I don’t necessarily believe that the owner wanted $14 (or whatever the “for reporting purposes only” sheet shows) and knocked down his price over a cup of coffee with the buyer in the kitchen. Maybe he did – but I don’t know. So rather than call these asking prices made up or imaginary, I’ll just report what the places sell for and leave it at that.

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Cos Cobber Sales

Yesterday saw Stillman Rockefeller’s place go for $23 million so don’t think that everyone has lost all his money these days but for the most part, we’re seeing small sales. 30 Robertson Lane (Cos Cob near Dunkin Donuts) was listed for $1.265 a year ago last March and sold yesterday for $869,000. 22 Sundance, also Cos Cob, tried $1.895 in 2005 and kept at it for four years until they sold it for $1.230 July 1st. Tax value is just $723,000, but that didn’t pick up a 2007 “renovation” (removed the above-ground pool, probably).

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That must have been a horrifying, long way down

Investigators now believe Air France jet did not break up mid-air but plunged into ocean. Ugh.

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Bernie and the boys

Dig that Shirt by Monica style!

Dig that Shirt by Monica style!

The DailyBeast has unearthed a gallery of Madoff family pictures from an earlier time, when the SEC slept and Walter Noel was doing his job. Very touching.

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Say goodbye to 2004 prices

20 Dewart Road sold for $3.075 in April, 2004 and again yesterday for $2.735. Assessed value (70%) was $2.471.

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Washington Post goes into the tank

It’s selling dinner invitations at its publisher’s house to lobbyists and corporate CEOs to meet Obama officials. This is the free press expiring with a whimper and a jangle of coins but I wonder: are the Obama folks in on this? Do they know that they’ll be attending a paid function? Do they get a cut, either personally or on behalf of the Democrat party? If the Washington Post were still around they’d have a reporter on this story but alas, the only one left is passed out in the corner, stuffed on canapes.

UPDATE: Post cancels soiree. “Geeze, we were just kidding!”

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Meet your new rulers

Paging Mr. Himes - your plane awaits you, sir

Paging Mr. Himes - your plane awaits you, sir

No private jets for business executives, no flights to Las Vegas for profiteers. But for Congress, the fun has just begun. Their travel costs have trebled in the past decade (50% in the past two years alone) while they and their staff and family go around the world to soak in foreign culture and get in a little golf.  House Speaker and friends spend one day in Iraq (not the night – one day) visiting our troops, then another week in Italy, but its all for the good of the country. Some dickwad, a Republican, retiring after 18 years soaking taxpayers, feels he deserves a two – week trip to Europe, paid for by us, just weeks before he retires from Congress and reports for work as a lobbyist.

There is no easy answer to these looters, because they’re taking over our country and economy and won’t let go. One tactic that might work is a concerted drive to defeat each and every one of them after one term, regardless of party, regardless of how much fat they bring back to the district. I haven’t checked Jim Himes travel schedule yet (I will, and often) but it’s bound to grow if he stays down there for a few terms. It always does. Toss them out – toss them all out; it couldn’t possibly be worse.

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Bank owned on Ledge Road

12 Ledge Road, a less than spectacular post and beamish house, was built on spec, priced at $3.795 million back in 2006, expired unsold in 2007 and now, after two years of paperwork, has reemerged as an “REO” listing of Ulster Bank. The bank would like to get $2.995 million for its debt but I don’t think it will. The place is about 4,000 sq. ft., has a detached garage, a small, wet lot and an odd, off putting design. Maybe $2.2, if you really want to live in this area of Old Greenwich (and Ledge is a very nice place to live in Old Greenwich), but I have found banks to be even more stubborn and blind than private owners. Good luck; someone will get this place, eventually.

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