Daily Archives: September 11, 2009

Action at 44 Close Road?

One of our longest running soap operas in spec building, 44 Close Road, has just extended its listing agreement from September 11th to October 15th. Ordinarily, listings run for six months or a year so this is curious and suggests, to me, that deal may be imminent. I hope so for the owner’s sake. this place was built in 2002 and never lived in despite three changes in ownership. Time it was.

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Battle of the search engines

I can’t decide if I really care about this or not but there’s a lot of concern expressed on the web today about Google’s page making no mention of 9/11 and Bing.com posting a beautiful picture of the memorial light plus links to various 9/11 remembrance pages. The beef is that Google usually puts up little images on holidays – St. Patricks Day, Christmas, etc. and even on many days you wouldn’t necessarily associate with a holiday: National PopCorn Day, for instance. Why nothing today?

But again, I’m undecided. For me, September 11th was the most horrible day of my life. For some 22-year-old kid in California, it probably is what Google shows it to be: just another day. We move on and Google has moved on faster than I want to. Is that their fault? Maybe. I’ve moved my default search to Bing, at least for now.

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Bad times fraying real estate agents’ tempers?

I’ve been hearing stories of nasty behavior between real estate agents these past months as commissions grow smaller and less frequent but with the exception of one desperate lady who keeps emailing my clients (in violation of our rules) inquiring if they’d like to work with her instead of me, I haven’t seen much personally. But I did a small rental last month and, after correcting an address error, sent a second bill for my commission just today – I could use a new tank of gas. Back comes a snotty reply, promising to “pass along” my bill to the owner (hey lady, you and your firm promised the commission, not the owner – if you didn’t think to collect it at closing, that’s your problem, not mine) and perhaps I’d get paid “for all the work you did.” That last, you will be shocked to learn, was meant to be sarcastic.

My clients went to this particular agent’s office to sign a lease application while I was out of town and she spent most of her time complaining that I wasn’t there to help with the credit work, what was I doing for my money, etc. etc. Not very professional to disparage another agent and really dumb to confess that you need another agent’s help to fill out a credit application (name, social security number and address). Then, to complain about paying me for “the work I did” which was, after all, spending several months with these nice people, showing them multiple houses and showing the house in question twice, is to reveal how desperate this woman is to keep both sides of a rental comission. If you’re going to cop an attitude, honey, at least do it for something larger than the cost of a dozen ice cream cones.

My clients didn’t like this lady and in fact were suspicious of her motives and some of her representations. When they mentioned that to her she dismissed their concerns saying “I’ve been voted Real Estate Agent of the Year by my peers”. That’s not an award I pay much attention to or vote for, but if this particular lady represents the highest standards and values of the Greenwich real estate profession, I suggest you start using Zillow.com exclusively from now on.

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Good news, bad news for spec builders on Boulder Brook

9 Boulder Brook Rd

9 Boulder Brook Rd

The good news for this street which has three new houses and one tired old one for sale, is that # 9 is reported under contract today. The bad news is that this one, by York Builders, is probably the best house on the street – York builds a fine home – and failed to get its asked-for price of $7.35 million. In fact, it didn’t reach its last, final price, after two years on the market, of $5.3 million. My guess is that it’s going in the mid-$4s. Nothing to sneeze at, but it will make for tough sledding for the other houses asking in the $5s and $6s.

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Conyers Farm land for sale

75 Conyers farm

75 Conyers farm

This fifteen acre parcel inside the gates at Conyers has had several owners but never a builder.  It’s history is interesting – it didn’t sell at just $1.75 million from 1995-1998 but the market must have picked up after that because it did sell for $3.375 in 2003. Two years later the buyer put it back up for sale again, this time with plans by someone who must have been the most  expensive architect in the world because the asking price was $9.975. It took two years but the current owner bought it in 2007 (with those plans?) for $5.125, an indication, perhaps, that the original price was a tad optimistic. In any event, it’s back up for sale again, this time asking $6.9 million. Why the nearly two million dollar increase? I don’t know; ask the owner if you see him.

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Anyone received a party invitation from Marty Nobel lately?

I don’t know what Patriot Bank’s doing with its new inventory of foreclosed houses but out in Malibu, the Wells Fargo executive in charge of forfeited properties moved into a $12 million house in Malibu Colony (Mel Gibson, James Cameron, etc.) and threw bashes there all summer while keeping prospective buyers out. The former owner, a Madoff victim, is cheesed and I wouldn’t think Wells Fargo stockholders are all too pleased either. We have a family friend who lives there; I’ll check and see if she can cast more dirt light on this story.

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Global warming, swine flu, attack on the White House

If it bleeds it leads, and who cares whether it’s true? Today, on 9/11, CNN reported that the Coast Guard fired on a suspicious boat on the Potomac. Oops! Training exercise. “Never mind!”

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Never assume

4 Buxton Lane

4 Buxton Lane

4 Buxton Lane in Riverside is a good house erected by a good local builder but it’s (very) close to I-95 and I didn’t think it would find a buyer anywhere close to its first asking price at $2.795. It did not, but the builder dropped just $200,000 from that price and today it’s reported as under contract. So there’s a house for everyone, I guess, and my own idea of where this place would trade was obviously grossly pessimistic. Or it’s being purchased by a deaf family.

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Cheer up, you could be the builder of 53 Hillside Road

53 Hillside Road

53 Hillside Road

This is a perfectly nice house but its builder must be approaching the “what was I thinking” stage by now. He paid $1.7 for the land in 2004, tore down the existing house and replaced it with the one shown here and put it up for sale in 2006 at $6.495. No one bit and today it’s three years older, still unsold and marked down to $4.995. At some point, these new, empty houses start looking old despite no one having lived in them – see 23 Cornelia, for instance, designed in 2000, built by 2003 and finally sold last month for $5.3 million instead of its original asking price of $11 million. Showing it, we didn’t exactly encounter Mrs. Cleaver in the kitchen but we wouldn’t have been surprised if we had.

So unlike cheese, unsold spec houses do not improve with age – ask Stevie Braverman, owner of 44 Close Road. And barring an unexpected turn of events, this house will still be located across from the High School and subject to its traffic jams next year, just as it is today.  So “waiting it out” may not  be the best strategy here.

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I declare the war is over

The heirs who own 487 North Street must be Phil Ochs fans because, having tried to sell their land (and a beautiful house that will  require millions of dollars to restore) for, first, $23 million, then $18 and, finally, $13 million before pulling it off the market have returned with a new broker and the same price of $13 million. I suppose they feel that our depressed market has hit bottom and is on its way back, and I admire their optimism. I note that the assessed value is $8 million and I, at least, think that’s a good price to at least start at. But we’ll see and obviously, while some heirs are eager to get their hands on an inheritance, others are content to wait a few years. I hope their patience is rewarded.

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Change of mind in Cos Cob

21 Mulberry (off of Mead Avenue, where a bit of I-95 traffic noise adds to the ambience) was listed Wednesday for $1.249, a price I thought was aggressive because the owners paid just $830,000 for it in 2002 and its current assessed value is $719,000. The sellers must have agreed with me that the price was wrong so today they’ve raised it to $1,479,000. I wonder what they know that I don’t?

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Riverside contract

26 Glen Avon, a relatively new house across the street from the water, is reported under contract – given its brief stay on the active list, I assume it is selling for close to or at its asking price of $5.495, which is exactly what the sellers paid for it in July 2006. The way things are today, that’s not a bad result.

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Old Greenwich sale

1 Kernan Place

1 Kernan Place

I liked this house, off Tomac and right on the Innis golf course, and said so in July when the price dropped to $2.395. A knowledgeable reader pointed out that the basement floods, which can be a bummer, but some hip boots and maybe a snorkel will mitigate that. The owners paid $1.89,500 for it back in July, 2001 (in a bidding war – asking price was $1.775) did a lot of renovating and put it back on for sale in 2007 at $3.650. That obviously wasn’t the right price, and it took two years to find the right price, but it sold yesterday for $2.150 and, indoor swimming pool or not, I think that was a good buy.

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