Daily Archives: July 14, 2009

Don’t tell Al Gore

Geologists have (possibly) found a huge new oil supply lying underneath the Bakken Shale formationin Northwestern North Dakota , Montana and Saskatchewan. The Bakken formation is just beginning to be explored and exploited but the US Geology Service estimates it holds billions of barrels of oil and gas; the new Three Forks – Sanish lies directly below the Bakken and if, as geologist think, it’s a separate pool and not just a catch basin for the Bakken, the discovery could double what’s out there.

Unfortunately this is exactly the type of thing Obamaists are trying to ban but at least it will be there for our use when they’re finally gone.

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Walter in Paradise

 A Walter lover (who knew there was one left?) writes in to report that Walt and Monica are still welcome to dine at the Beach Club, even if they can’t join. I suppose with revenue down no club, even the Beach, can be too particular about who buys food there. Here’s a picture of the club after the new day admission policy took effect this year, followed by the reader’s note.

Walter Noel (green trunks) races for the pool

Walter Noel (green trunks) races for the pool

 

 

“Bye the way, thought you’d like to know, the Noels were spotted at the Beach Club in Southampton (the Bathing Corp) having lunch, the club they were black balled from – easy, peasy lemon squeezy. No shame there. Hate to tell you, despite all your efforts, in their mind and their friend’s minds, they did nothing wrong. They could care less except for how it effects [sic]them.”

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Well we know Bernie’s not walking out of prison alive

Fox News, burned out from wall-to-wall Michael coverage no doubt, has come up with a prison “expert” (that would be any bum who spent years behind bars) to opine on how Bernie’s gonna get shived by an inmate paid to do so by a burned investor. I understand the insane desire to keep up ratings – why do you think I’m all Walt, all the time? – but this is just silly. he dies, he dies, but wasting airtime on a loudmouth isn’t productive.

Besides, and getting back to Walter, isn’t it more likely that if there’s a cheesed off investor floating around out there angry enough to kill  he’s a Colombian and wants revenge on Walter’s beloved son in law, Andres Piedrahita? Where is Andres these days, anyway? If he’s going to get whacked, I do hope he’ll have the decency to return to Greenwich for the final exit interview – we have standards to maintain here and his death in an obscure little Spanish village won’t help us at all.

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Cos Cob

Because he asked, I can tell Cos Cobber that we have four single family homes under contract in Cos Cob, including two with asking prices above $3 million. I suspect that the one asking $5.999 million isn’t going anywhere soon, though. The MLS shows 71 Cos Cob homes actively for sale but since that includes one unbuilt house at 38 Langhorne Lane, way off Moreland off of Round Hill, the proper number is 70. Who screwed that listing up, the agent or the MLS? Either way, you’d think the listing broker would want to correct it. Not everyone who wants property in the Back Country thinks to look in Cos Cob for it.

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Sales and inventory

As of 4:30 today, we have 51 single family homes under contract, which is excellent. Only 8 of those contracts are for houses over $5 million, however, and only 4 of those 8 are spec homes. We have a total of 736 single family homes listed for sale and 163 of those are priced at $5 million and above (with 44 spec houses in that bracket).

So 51 contracts is good, but anything over $5 million is definitely hurting.

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Please tell me John Murtha will be sharing a cell with Bernie. Oh, please?

One of our smarmiest, most despicable representatives (no, not Maxine Waters, she’s just dumb), John Murtha, just lost his best friend and biggest campaign fund contributor to the big house via a guilty plea in Florida. He’s got the goods on Murtha, so the question is, will Justice squeeze him until he produces or just bury him away without finishing off Murtha? Could go either way but given the department’s announced intention to go after Bush for political gain and not to pursue the fired inspector generals for the same reason, I’m not too optimistic. But I do hope. And Murtha’s losing support in his home district – if the Obamas think he could lose the seat, maybe they’ll go after him now to clear the way for a stronger Democrat. Murtha is nothing if not dispensable.

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So let’s start asking now: what was Patriot Bank up to?

I’ve alluded to the bizarre episode with patriot Bank and clients of ours where Patriot offered to sell loans it didn’t have and told us other loans were in default when they were in fact current. So what was up with all that? I still don’t know but here’s a fascinating letter from one of their less than satisfied clients:

Chris: This whole “bad loans” thing with patriot is now making some sense after your enlighten me on the spin they are putting on their loan portfolio.
 
Early this year I had [$   ] in a regular deposit account with them. We were using this account to pay our [edited] mortgage every month. Never a late payment on either mortgage. [XXXX] had an interest reserve construction loan account that was funded until end of August 09. Then out of the blue they put a hold on my account, no explanation or notification.  I only realized something was up when they bounced two checks I had written on that account.  The manager on Milbank hung up on me after I challenged him for an explanation. They continued to keep the hold on my account and allowed (forced) my mortgage to go into default. They also did not do any further automatic draws from the construction loan interest reserve account to pay [2nd property’s loan] Also, presumable calling this loan in default. To this day I never got an explanation as to why the holds were placed on my account.
 
They have ruined my credit by their actions. I had a 780 score before they pulled their stunt. Today I have a 430 with only Patriot driving this down. They have offered a letter carefully worded (to avoid a law suit I presume) to the credit bureaus releasing me of any liability on the defaults. Therefore, requesting that the credit reporting agency’s restore my good credit. (see letter attached)

This actually gives me a clue as to what they were up to – oh, we should have some interesting banking news coming up.

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Patriot Bank and the OCC 2/09/09 Agreement

I’ve posted this before but here again is the February Agreement between Patriot and the OCC. Its 22 pages are stuffed with various undertakings promised by Patriot to address its capital needs, its non-performing loans and its cycle of extending new credit to defaulted borrowers. Patriot was given between 90 and 120 days from the date of the agreement to complete its tasks and I’d guess that time ran out last June at the latest. So, did they meet their deadline, or are bad things going to happen t this bank? Stay tuned.

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Here comes Medicare for all

The House version of Obama Care is out today: all will be paid for by a surtax on millionaires (to go along with the permanent increase in income tax for those same folks) and “hundreds of millions saved by cutting waste and fraud from Medicare”.  Now the one thing Obama fans have right about the man is that he’s an intelligent person. So unlike the dumb zombies out there in the hinterlands clapping their paws together in celebration of this cornucopia of benefits, Obama knows that the chances of saving five cents on Medicare are nil: if it could be done, it would have been done twenty years ago. Hasn’t happened, never will. And, again unlike the mob, he knows that there simply aren’t enough millionaires to pay for all this.

So what’s his plan? Does he think he can raise taxes on the American middle class high enough to pay for all this or does he plan to fund it with deficit spending and inflation? Just out of curiosity alone, I kind of hope the bill goes through so I can see what happens.

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It’s begining to look a lot like Greenwich

(not to scale)

(not to scale)

Aspen property sells for $43 million.

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Sales and contracts

92 Rockwood before

92 Rockwood before

41 Jones Park Drive in Riverside which went to contract last April closed yesterday for $5.050 million. I like Riverside, I like Jones Park, I still thought that was a big price. Assessment is $2.902, so we can toss this one out the window.

92 Rockwood Lane is under contract, asking price was $3.695 million. Hmm. Assessed value was just $2.091 but the c/o was granted just last year, so that’s probably a lot closer to 70% of market value than older assessments are. The house sold in 2007 for $2.250 in ’07 but the owner/builder increased it from 2,900 sq. ft. to 5,125 and completely renovated it. Here are some pictures of the project.

After

After

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The peril of above-ground pools

Johnstown Flood 1889

Johnstown Flood 1889

We’re all having fun teasing the Cos Cob residents about their mandatory above-ground pools but I wonder if it isn’t time to amend our zoning laws and permit those poor souls to install their pools into the ground. I mean, what happens when one of these things springs a leak and spews forth onto the neighbor’s property? My own great Grandfather John Caldwell was a member, along with his business partners George and Herman Westinghouse, of the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club in Pennsylvania whose neglected dam caused the great Johnstown Flood. Not a single person was ever sued for that calamity, thank goodness for the Fountain fortune, but that was 1889, when good sensible rules prevailed, like: you drowned? Get over it! These days, we have unsympathetic laws and juries and the same glorious result may not occur.

I’m going to put Fudrucker to work looking into this. His own above-ground is an inflatable whale/tub but even he’ll be able to grasp the potential danger inherent in a full Cos Cobber.

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Fraud or stupidity?

5 Meadowwood

5 Meadowwood

Just as the stock market crash exposed the Bernie Madoff/Walter Noels of the world, the real estate collapse is baring lots of improvidently extended loans. I have wondered for several years (ever since I saw this one at 5 Meadowwood, in fact) whether all of those loans were just dumb mistakes or if there might have been a little baksheesh slipped to the appraiser. This house, currently under bank sponsorship, was originally listed for $7.950 million. It’s a cheap and dirty redo with sloping floors, wavy sheetrock and cheap fixtures. Worse, instead of a back yard it has a 20′ high sound barrier with the I-95 truck weigh station behind it. Oh, and it’s the back lot on a shared driveway.

It’s possible, I suppose, that an appraiser heard “Belle Haven” and looked no further, and a lending bank with no intention of holding onto this loan didn’t care about value and just went ahead with the deal, but only someone using $5.5 million of someone else’s money would have risked so much for so little. If the current bank crisis plays out like the S&L collapse did in the early 90s, there will be a flurry of fraud actions and then everything will be closed down, swept under the rug and the players will move on. That’s what I think will happen here, but I’d like to be wrong.

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Gresham’s law hits Greenwich real estate

Gresham’s law, which states that “bad money drives out good” was meant to apply to a country’s finances but looking at Boulder Brook Road, I’d say it affects buildings, too. 9 Boulder Brook, by far the best of three spec houses on that street, in my opinion, is now the cheapest. It started out at nearly $7 and is now asking $5.3. At the end of the street 39 was priced at $9 or some ridiculous price like that, dropped down to $4.5, which just slammed 9 Boulder Brook, then inexplicably raised its price to $5.495. It’s a shame, but number 9’s builder has to compete with 39 and the only way to do that is price, not quality (attention, Beechcroft Road). of course, in between these two houses is one built by a Westchester builder, still stuck at $6.575. Like that’s going to happen.

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Oh the humanity!

Where's Walto now?

Where's Walto now?

While you’re whining about having to carpool, spare a tear for the rich. Even former Goldman Sachs parthers are having to time share their yachts.

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Buy a camera

To be built

To be built?

Not for nothing, but this is what shows up on the listing for 422 North Maple, that house built sideways to the road and asking $6.495 million. I don’t think much of the house’s prospects at that price but now that it’s up, wouldn’t an actual photograph be more effective than an artist’s rendering? There are some houses where anything would be better than an accurate depiction but that’s not the case for this one. My objections concern its orientation, not its (exterior) design. And for $6.5 million, the builder is entitled to a picture, in my opinion.

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That’s more than I’d pay if they threw Newsweek in with it

Business Week may sell for one dollar. I guess when the price of your entire publication is worth less than a single issue’s cover price, you have a problem.

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Saving gas

Looking over the open house list for today I see that there’s some new construction on King Street that a client inquired about. My problem with driving all the way out there to check it out, besides pure laziness, is that the builder is asking $2.995 million for it and the highest sale for King Street that I can find in our MLS records is $1.7 million. If the place comes down to $2, maybe I’ll take a look but for now, why bother?

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Action on Maple Avenue?

63 Maple Avenue, a spec home (Patriot loan, if you’re keeping track) and on the market for $4.995 million, has cancelled the open house scheduled for today. Usually, open houses are postponed when inclement weather or personal issues arise, and cancelled when a buyer appears. So do we have a buyer for this place? I stand ready to have my skepticism dispelled.

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Here’s a sensible price cut

614 Riversville

614 Riversville

This is a beautiful piece of land way up on Riversville (corner of John Street) but it comes with an 1850 house which, even though it’s been renovated, hopefully gives pause to those who are looking to grade the place flat and start anew. That charming house, therefore, cuts down the market for this land and that, plus its original price back in 2007 of $4.2 million, probably explains why it hasn’t sold. It’s down now to $2.2 million, which is much closer to my 70% rule ($2.126 million) and sure to be more attractive to the artsy types who would love this house. The late, lamented Michael Jackson aside, most artists I know never put together the kind of money their hedge fund friends do.

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