Daily Archives: July 13, 2009

Land for sale in OG

Spec builder Peter Thalheim bought 3 Quintard Avenue last year in July for $2.840 million and two months later placed it back up for sale for $3.750, a premium that never made sense to me. Or anyone else, I suppose, because he couldn’t sell it, but today he whacked $500,000 off it and offers it for just $3.250 million. I still don’t quite understand how it’s worth more than it was last July but at least the mystery is now smaller.

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127 Shore Road contract

Another big contract for new construction in Old Greenwich. Asking price $3.595 or so (down from its first price but still a big price). It’s early days, but there does seem to be some loosening up as buyers who wouldn’t bite in May and June are finally finding prices they like.

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Ruth, Monica, this just might work

From Dealbreaker comes this story about the widow of a dead Ponzi artist suing his investors for life insurance proceeds. Seems that the fellow, a former autoparts salesclerk so you can understand how this happened – who doesn’t trust their autoparts salesman? – fleeced investors of $6.2 million before going down in a plane crash. Texas authorities took his life insurance proceeds and distributed it to the investors but now Mr. Ponzi’s widow has sued, saying she and her kids are entitled to $1.2 million of the loot. It won’t keep you out of Preppy Harlem, I guess, but it might get you a one bedroom instead of that crummy studio you’ve been looking at.

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Buyers around town

Lots of agents are busy these days and I’m pleased to say I am among them. Lots of offers fewer acceptances, but things are moving along at a pretty good rate considering that it’s July. 27 Ford Lane in Old Greenwich is reported under contract today. It’s new construction with waterviews and access to a dock that, at high tide, will get you somewhere. A very nice house on a good street but its first price of $4.550 million was stretching things a bit. Its lower price of $3.7 million was an improvement and enough to find a buyer.

25 Cedarwood, 2.5 acres and a burned down house, has also gone to contract. Started at $2.450, dropped to $1.995, I wasn’t taken by the land but somebody obviously likes it enough to put down some serious cash, just proving once again how much personal taste plays a role in real estate.

And that same difference in taste will, I hope, mean a buyer for this new listing at 25 Hettifred, asking $1.190 million for a 1966 raised ranch on an acre. I like King Merritt Acres well enough, I suppose, but I’m not at all sure I’d pay that much for this spot. Fortunately, I’m not a potential buyer.

UPDATE: Perhaps the sellers at 25 Hettifred learned a lesson from their neighbor at 27, which has just come back on the market, again, at $999,000. This poor house has been looking for a buyer since 2005, when it was listed for $1.695 million. My guess is that the days of King Merritt acres busting a million are past, for the time being. Even $999 seems steep to me these days.

25 Hettifred

25 Hettifred

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Is Nantucket a harbinger of Greenwich’s market?

Henry Blogett thinks so and he’s never been wrong, eh? Still, his description of Nantucket’s real estate market sounds an awful lot like ours here in Greenwich and up on the island, at least, things aren’t going so well for sellers. I’ve never been particularly fond of either of the Grey Ladies, the paper or the Island, but Martha’s Vineyard is nice and if prices there follow Nantucket’s, maybe a house near a cranberry bogm is possible. Nice to dream, anyway.

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Look! Up in the sky!

Reader Cobra picked up on this delicious quote from our Greenwich Police spokesman referring to the search for the furniture thieves this morning:

“We haven’t found the suspects,” Greenwich Police spokesman Lt. Richard Cochran said. “We searched the area and in the trees but haven’t found anyone.”

Cobra rudely points out that the boys might have better luck searching the ground or even the bushes for the perpetrators but what he doesn’t realize is that we sent our newest crime-busting unit, the Riders in the Sky, to the scene. They specialize in detecting UFOs and cellphone magnetic waves threatening our school children but they’re fully capable of spotting two men with a grand piano hiding in an oak tree, if necessary. Here’s a shot For What It’s Worth’s staff photographer Edgar Martins took  of the guys in action:

They've got to be up there somewhere!

They've got to be up there somewhere!

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The Patient Seller

71 Richmond Hill Road tried for and didn’t get $4 million back in 2003 so it’s safe to assume that it wasn’t worth that much then. It’s been back on the market for a lonnng time now and today it’s dropped to $3 million. I’m inclined to think a more aggressive price-cutting plan is called for but these are obviously people in no hurry.

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Greenwich crime wave update

A reader writes to tell us that Estate Treasure’s Consignment Shop(pe?) was robbed and the source of excitement on the Post Road this morning and not, as I had supposed, a traffic law violator. Oh well, so much for that theory. The police missed their men however, blaming the speed with which they fled. I was able to snap a picture of the felons and it’s easy to understand how they escaped.

Quick, sit down and start playing! They'll never suspect!

Quick, sit down and start playing! They'll never suspect!

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Call me crazy but …

10 Cornelia Drive

10 Cornelia Drive

I was taken to task last week – gently, because we’re friends – by an agent who complained that I was hurting the market by convincing buyers to hold on and wait for prices to drop. “You’re killing the market,” she complained. I wasn’t convinced, both because a blog isn’t going to affect reality and because reality itself keeps rearing its ugly head and offering lessons to buyers. Take this house at 10 Cornelia Drive, for instance. It was originally listed for $9.750 million in 2007 and expired unsold that November. It’s back today for $6.950 million. That may still not be the right price but if you’d paid $3 million more for it two years ago, wouldn’t you feel foolish? I would.

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A secret plan to kill Al Qaeda operatives – Dems call for prosecution

Not for Al Qaeda operatives, dummy, for that horrible Cheney and his minions. Either Feinstein and her pals are incredibly stupid or they have admirable faith in the Bush administration’s elimination of terrorist threats, because if the Democrats are knee deep in a televised feeding frenzy of nailing Cheney when New York City blows up, they’re going to look er, feckless and irresponsible? By that time, of course, they will have restored the economy, saved the world from global warming and created a new health care program that provides first class treatment at no cost to anyone but the rich, so perhaps the American public will forgive them for letting Al Qaeda come to our shores. But it’s a risk – not everyone will be exultant if New York City goes up in a mushroom cloud.

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Pohleece activity on Exit 5

Spurred on by Quiet Patriot’s report of men in blue with long guns I headed over to the Post Road to see what was up. Sure enough, like Hank William’s Yvonne’s, the place was buzzing. Exit 5 Southbound sealed off and cops everywhere. No word yet what they’re up to but judging from the presence of the SWAT team, the bomb squad, four canine patrols and thirty-five squad cars, I’d guess it was what our force calls a “Triple Treat”: that’s right, a Mommy in an SUV, talking on her cellphone while not wearing her seatbelt and turning right on red without coming to a full stop. This is what makes all those hours of training worthwhile.

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Patriot Inventory

A reader asks what other spec houses are out there with Patriot mortgages attached to them. It’s an odd situation, where land records sometimes contradict Patriot’s own claims but here are some that I’m pretty sure are Patriot loans:

We know that 137 Cat Rock Road was, but that went a few weeks ago ($3.8 million – not making anyone money but the builder escaped with a modest loss instead of a catastrophic one).

601 Lake, as noted; there are also, according to land records, others at 26 Taconic, 11 Lindsay Drive, 1038 Lake Avenue (cross-collateralized with 44 Close Road), 39 Bolder Brook, 101 Dingletown, 21 Desiree, 14 Baldwin Farms South (now owned by Patriot), 450 North Street, 63 North Maple, etc. etc. 

None of these strike me as properties likely to sell soon for anywhere close to their asking prices  and some of them are due to pay back their loans soon – like, August 1st – but I’m always being surprised, so we’ll just wait and see.

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I just hope my dentist Ernie Whittle doesn’t see this

British builder isn’t paid for the job, takes steps to feel better.

(h/t: Krazy Kat)

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It can’t happen here, right?

The office furniture of Paul Greenwood, late of WG Trading with offices in Greenwich and Santa Barabra, California, are set to be auctioned next week. Office desks and chairs aren’t all that exciting but there are some oriental rugs that might be nice and the sale should whet the appetite of buyers for the real auction, coming soon as this fraud’s assets are liquidated. How about a 286-acre horse farm, “Grand Central”, in North Salem? Or his residence in that same town. Or, if you don’t can’t afford Westchester County property taxes (Greenwood could but only by pulling a  mini-Madoff), there’s a 1,348 piece collection of Steiff stuffed animals, estimated value $2.2 million. We all have our quirks, but I wouldn’t risk disgrace and prison for a teddy bear collection.

Will we see auctions like this for our own celebrities? Well we do have Frederic Bourke looking at an extended stay away, Mark and Andy Madoff aren’t looking so good, my pal Dom Devito is going out of town for 51 months and, of course, there’s Walter. There’s always Walter. Plus, don’t you wonder how the Antares boys are doing? I do.

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Maybe they’re paying him out of fishing license fees

Budget eliminated, state employee continues in office and on state payroll. If we didn’t have such a large budget surplus this would be alarming, I suppose, indicating as it does that we exercise no control over spending, but since we do …..

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Depreciation

229 Stanwich Rd

229 Stanwich Rd

This huge  (12,000 sq.ft.) house used to routinely rent for big numbers: $17,000 in 2002, $17,000 in 2003, $16,000 in 2006. It’s gotten increasingly tired over those rental cycles, however, and the owners don’t appear to be spending much on upkeep. The rents now reflect that: $10,000 for a six month rental in January and $10,500 today. Sometimes, to make money you have to spend money.

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Patriot’s inventory is going, but how?

601 Lake Avenue, the brick Georgian spec house that was rented out when it wouldn’t sell, came back on the market for sale last week and is reported as under contract today, three days later. This is, I believe, one of the many Patriot loans that weren’t doing so well so it’s interesting that it couldn’t sell at all last year at $7.995 million and finds a buyer now at that same listing price in a matter of days. Has the market improved or did the price? We’ll find out when its sales price is reported. What intrigues me is that the listing agent is Tamar Laurie who was also the agent for 480 North Street, another spec house that Patriot claimed was burdened by its mortgage when in fact it was not. So what’s Patriot doing? I notice that this 601 Lake Avenue house was listed with Coldwell Banker, sold through Coldwell Banker, and was a sixty day listing offering a 2% commission. That all smacks of a distressed bank sale to me but we will have to wait to see.

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The nobility of sailors?

When Riverside resident Jack Moffly fell off his boat (nice job, Jack) and was being towed along behind it as it sailed away, two boaters, Jonathan Wilcox and Eugene Miller, came to his aid and saved him from certain drowning. I heard over the weekend however, that Jonathan, who was in a small kayak and unable to haul Jack in himself,  first hailed a sailboat going by with seven people on board and pointed out the 80-year-old man in the water who needed help. “Sorry, there’s not enough water there [depth was 30 feet] so we can’t help” was the skipper’s reply, and off they went, not even taking the trouble to call in for assistance.

Wow. That guy just violated 3,000 years of maritime tradition, all so he could continue partying with his worthless crew. I won’t say I hope he runs into a storm soon but if he does, I do hope that he is all alone at the time. What a jerk.

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Hartford takes another bite

Comin' at you!

Comin' at you!

if you drive a car, I’ll tax the street;
if you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat;
if you get too cold,  I’ll tax the heat;
if you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

‘Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

Looking for food, our Hartford pols have come up with yet another revenue source: saltwater fishing licenses. Understand that, unlike freshwater fishing, where the state runs stocking programs and does the occasional streambank restoration project, it does nothing for saltwater fishermen and doesn’t plan to with this new tax. It’s just something else to hit, so they’ve done it.

Similarly, I understand that Greenwich has now started taxing private moorings, from the $150 fee charged for the single mooring a Byram sailor might keep off Tower Island for raftups to local yacht clubs, whacked $10,000 this season and continuing forward. And what does the town provide for this money? Well, nothing.

Towns and even stat egovernments need money to operate, although I question whether they need as much as they currently are spending. But to single out one group for a special hit is grossly unfair. All for one, one for all and all that, eh?

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