Daily Archives: July 8, 2009

This should kill price wars for a long time

30 Dawn Harbor Rvsd

30 Dawn Harbor (2007)

Every house that was won in a price war in the past few years has, if it’s come back on the market, sold for less than the winning price. This new listing in Riverside was priced at $3.295 million in March, 2007 and sold ten days later for $3.906. The buyers added on, built a new kitchen/family room with fireplace and in general, renovated the whole place. They placed it back up for sale this afternoon at $3.195 which the listing describes as “aggressively priced for today’s market”.

Indeed it is, but hats off to the owners who, having decided to sell their home, priced it intelligently. This is  the best bit of pricing I’ve seen in the housing catastrophe yet. Other houses have gradually been forced to accept reality but these people are doing so up front. Good for them and I wish them well. Great street, by the way.

UPDATE: I don’t think this will help the other new listing on Dawn Harbor (42?), which is bigger: 1.24 acres vs. this one’s 0.87, but pretty much a land deal, with apologies to the Benson boys whose childhood home it is. The Benson house is asking $2.7, which didn’t shock me last week when I saw it, this being a terrific street in Riverside and all that. But if you can get what amounts to a new house (assuming that the renovations were as extensive as I imagine – I haven’t seen 30 yet) on the same street for maybe $300,000 more, I think that hurts the land deal.

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14 Baldwin Farms S. got a face lift

I mentioned below that the Times Magazine had to pull its article on abandoned spec projects after they discovered that the free lance photographer they’d hired (at enormous expense, I’d think, sice they sent him all around our great country to get these shots) doctored some pf the photographs to make them look better. Now it turns out that Greenwich’s own was one of the doctorees.  Hey, it had leaves on the floor when I saw it, so what did I know? I wasn’t there when the photographer id his work. Then again, I couldn’t have been there, because he did his “work” on his computer, back in the land of cheese eaters.

Of course, this won’t be the first instance of chicanery in the hstory of Greenwich real estate nor, I suspect, will it be the last.

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When is an old house an old house?

The news that 50 Shore Road, a 1725 farmhouse, was moved from Massachusetts to its present location in the 1950′s got me wondering: is that something that affects its value and thus must be disclosed by the seller? I’m inclined to think it is, even though I haven’t looked up the law on the matter. It seems to me that part of the charm of an antique home is the sense of history that comes with the place. If I bought 50 Shore Road, I’d want to believe that a Mead, Lockwood or Palmer lived there, that maybe oneof the children had left from there to fight in the Revolution, or marched down to Washington to confront the Rebs. Or hell, walked down the street to join the Memorial Day parade of 1910, if there was one back then.

I’m sure this house had its own interesting history up in Ware, Massachusetts until the dam came and flooded its valley, but it’s just not the same. Images of a 1725 Connecticut Yankee hand-pegging his house on the shores of Tomac just clash unacceptably with those of it being disassembled, loaded on a flatbed and being trundled down here from 225 miles away. Or so it seems to me.

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Prices dropping

7 Chieftans sold for $5.625 million in February, 2007 and was relisted for $5.975 in September ’08. It hasn’t sold in ten months so today the seller whacked a million off his price and is now asking $4.995. By the time he finds a buyer, he’ll probably wish he’d rented for his brief occupancy.

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Spec house news

601 Lake Ave

601 Lake Ave

Last heard from, this Lake Avenue spec house was rented out until September 30th to tenants with an option to buy. It’s back on today for the same price it failed to fetch originally: $7.595, and promises “immediate occupancy”, which indicates that the tenants are leaving early. Ownership has changed from the original builders to an LLC which includes the builders and possibly more new investors?

Mortgage debt, according to public records, is $4,685,000 and assesed value is $3.507.

If you’re keeping track of spec houses on the market, this brings the total to 106.

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What’s good for Obama is good for America

It is now fashionable to question other’s patriotism. Why? Because McChimp is out of the Whte House and the One is in.

From “Riehl World View” :

It’s Okay To Question Your Patriotism

It’s un-American, as well as prohibited to question the patriotism of those attempting to undermine a war effort, but question Obama’s policies and this is what you get. Liberals have no shame when it comes to hypocrisy. And I really regret that we are going to be reaping the unpleasant benefits to our politics going forward. Much more of this and the Right is going to get just as angry and ugly as the Left. Twenty-ten is going to be a ho holds barred blood match politically speaking.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who has had an eventful couple of weeks to say the least, believes House Republican opposition to climate change legislation and the stimulus indicates they’re cheering against the good ol’ US of A.

“It appears that the Republican Party leadership in the Congress has made a decision that they want to deny President Obama success, which means, in my mind, they are rooting against the country, as well,” the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman told WAMU radio host Diane Rehm on Tuesday morning, promoting his new book, “The Waxman Report.”

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His next assignment will be a portrait of Dan Rather

The New York Times Magazine has had to pull the pictorial on abandoned houses from last week’s edition because the photographer, brought all the way over from Europe to strut his stuff, turned out to have digitally-altered the pictures. Too bad for the writer, Chuck Wilson, who poured a ton of time into the project, only to be undone by an unscrupulous Frenchman (redundant, I know).

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Old Houses

A reader asks about a new Sotheby’s listing for a 1725 farm house in Old Greenwich and wonders whether we really have anything in town older than 1967. In fact, we have five houses currently for sale that were built before 1795: 69 Lake, 951 Lake, 275 Round Hill, 549 Round Hill and the Sotheby’s listing, 50 Shore Road. There’s no need to rush out to see these before they’re gone because, with the exception of 951 Lake, they’re priced to stay. 50 Shore Road, for instance, is priced at $5.5 million, which should ensure that it stays on the market for at least another 220 years.

UPDATE: check comments for the true story of 50 Shore Road. According to Tom Gorin, (who was there when the house was built), it was moved down from Massachusetts in the 1950s, sold as original and a law suit erupted. That’s not all that surprising: “Mr. Blandings Builds his Dreamhouse” was set in Greenwich and written way back when – pre WWII?. Regardless, Yankees have been taking advantage of out of town chumps forever. I wonder whether Sotheby’s will consider the transplanted nature of this house to be a material fact worthy of disclosure? Apparently not.

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It is to laugh

Health care bill far too long for House members to read it, laughs Democrat.

Barney Frank to introduce new Consumer banking bill that’s too long for anyone to read (of course, it hasn’t been written yet, either).

Connecticut’s own, Jim Himes, is all for it – everything. “Okay,” the freshman Goldman Sachs firee admitted today, “I didn’t read the Stimulus Bill or  the Energy Bill before voting for them and I sure as heck ain’t gonna read these, but I don’t have to – my leaders tell me what to do and I trust them completely. I came to Washington to hang my brain by the door, follow orders and get promoted, and that’s exactly what I intend to do, so screw off.”

Himes then cut the interview short to go boating with the Coast Guard on Long Island Sound.

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I’ll be curious to see if the seller’s tactic worked

11 Juniper Hill Road is a good-looking house in Greenwich on the Stamford border. Originally priced at $4.195 million, the owner raised the price to $4.275 to discourage bidders who kept offering numbers in the mid-3s. Since my own opinion was that it ought to sell in the mid-threes, I didn’t recommend it to any buyers but today it’s under contract. Did the seller get tired or did he force someone to bid in the 4′s? We won’t know until its sale price is reported, but I’m sort of rooting for the seller on this one. Nice house, bad market – I hope the nice house prevailed.

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Obamanomics

Dealbreaker reports this one:

In its crusade to uncover fraud and protect investors from getting Ponzied, the SEC is dedicating some of its resources to Steve Jobs’ health. Mary Schapiro’s troops are sniffing around trying to determine if Apple’s board witheld material information from investors while they were huddled together monitoring Jobs’ vital signs from mission control between the Jan. 5th announcment that he had a hormone imbalance and the Jan. 14th announcement that he was taking a 5 and a half month medical hiatus. Apple investors had to suffer through a 59% gain in the company’s stock while Jobs was away. The SEC’s ability to spend time going after Apple while junior Madoffs are likely packing their bags to escape to countries without extradition treatries can only be viewed as a green shoot.

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Why bother?

21 Desiree

21 Desiree

This spec house off Stanwich was built by a good builder, has an okay yard, with pool, and would probably have done well if it hadn’t been overpriced back in 2005, when it came up for sale listed at $5.950 million. Instead, it has developed the stigma of any house unsold for four years and has seen its price cut again and again. Yesterday, that price was dropped from $4.850 to $4.795, a reduction of less than 1%. I just don’t understand the thinking behind such an insignificant adjustment, especially in this market where buyers typically knock 30% off their opening bid just to test the waters. If you aren’t getting offers at your current price, I can promise you that it’s more than 1% overpriced. Really – trust me on this.

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Crime Stoppers in Greenwich

He didn't come to a complete stop! Fire!
He didn’t come to a complete stop! Fire!

Greenwich Police Chief Davd Ridberg announced that his troopers had doubled the number of red-light violation citations last month, 77, up from 44. “It’s training that does it,” Ridberg crowed at a news conference held to publicize this stunning achievement. “Training – that’s the ticket.” So far, Greenwich’s “Rolling Thunder” campaign has focused on drivers using cellphones in May, seatbelt enforcement in May and red lights in June.

“Yes”, Ridberg acknowledged,” this kind of training runs us way up in overtime pay, but if it saves the life of just one fender, I think the citizens will agree that it’s all worth it.” Asked about the FBI crime report for Greenwich, still unreleased a year after its preparation, Ridberg was forthright: “How ’bout them Yankees, eh?”
So what do we have to look forward to this July? “Pooper scoopers,” Ridberg vowed. “We are so all over that.”

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Connecticut – land of no penalty

Here’s a Connecticut resident who held his ex-wife hostage, fought off the cops, burned down her house and, in general, made a general nuisance of himself yesterday. Pretty humdrum, I know, but I was struck by the disclosure that the guy did the same thing to the poor woman in 2007 – burned down her summer home when ordered to hand it over to her. I’m naive, but I thought people went to jail for this sort of thing so that they weren’t able to do it again.

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Coming to your doctor’s office: rationing

Yesterday’s WSJ has an interesting look at Britain’s health care system and the rationing that, of necessity, takes place. Lots of horror stories, which make a nice accompaniment to previous stories of filthy wards and rampant infections, but since we all know that Bamma would never let that happen to us, who cares? Still here’s a great tidbit:

In 2007, the board restricted access to two drugs for macular degeneration, a cause of blindness. The drug Macugen was blocked outright. The other, Lucentis, was limited to a particular category of individuals with the disease, restricting it to about one in five sufferers. Even then, the drug was only approved for use in one eye, meaning those lucky enough to get it would still go blind in the other. As Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of NICE, explained at the time: “When treatments are very expensive, we have to use them where they give the most benefit to patients.”

Come on, you don’t need two eyes, really. And it’s selfish of you to ask for them. The editorial concludes,

The NICE precedent also undercuts the Obama Administration’s argument that vast health savings can be gleaned simply by automating health records or squeezing out “waste.” Britain has tried all of that but ultimately has concluded that it can only rein in costs by limiting care. The logic of a health-care system dominated by government is that it always ends up with some version of a NICE board that makes these life-or-death treatment decisions. The Administration’s new Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research currently lacks the authority of NICE. But over time, if the Obama plan passes and taxpayer costs inevitably soar, it could quickly gain it.

Mr. Obama and Democrats claim they can expand subsidies for tens of millions of Americans, while saving money and improving the quality of care. It can’t possibly be done. The inevitable result of their plan will be some version of a NICE board that will tell millions of Americans that they are too young, or too old, or too sick to be worth paying to care fo

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California – always innovating

California is rolling out yet another new fiancial currency, the IOU-IOU.“Yes, we’ll pay you in script, but not yet. Trust us on this, okay?” Should be fascinating.

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