Daily Archives: September 24, 2009

If (chicken feather) Indians can claim old skeletons, does this mean we WASPS just got rich?

Anglo-Saxon treasure horde discovered.

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Why is Joe Barbeiri driving a Yugo?

Top selling agent this year and yet the modest fellow insisted on doing his bit for the environment and traded in his Bentley via the cash for clunkers program. What a guy.

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Well I guess this is appropriate

Sally Parris appointed Vice President of Greenwich Association of Realtors. Congratulations.

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Green don’t sell

Not if the “Lake Windemere” (I assume that’s the home base of Lord Voldermort) development on Erskine Road in Stamford is any indicator. These four houses, built on a beautiful old estate in North Stamford have been built and ready for buyers since at least 2008 and maybe even earlier. They’re supposed to be “green” and the advertising stresses that. To no avail. Three of the four remain available, each marked down $1 million, the fourth has yet to be built.

These are nice houses, and in the $2s, offer a lot of house for the price, should you find yourself with a desire to live in Stamford. I would call “Lake Windemere” a pond, by the way, but it’s big enough to justify owning a (small) rowboat, and the land itself is quite scenic.

But you will be the exception if you buy or even pay a dime extra for one of these homes because of its energy – efficient features.

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At least those English school kids didn’t ship their lamb to the cops

Cop who persuaded calves to – ahem – “milk him” has charges of animal cruelty dropped. Judge: “who’s to say the cows didn’t enjoy it? Or cared either way?” Reached for comment, Greenwich Police Chief David Ridberg denied that our own officers ever engaged in such conduct. “We don’t condone under-aged sex,” the Chief vowed, “and we won’t tolerate it.Of course,” he continued, “I’m not vouching for what may or may not go on in Cos Cob – in the boonies, anything can happen and probably does.”

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This will certainly help

Congress, showing the steely resolve to contain spending that it is known for, caved in to AARP and eliminated a scheduled increase in Medicare premiums, tossed $4 billion to the Postal Service to help cover its medical bills and, just for the fun of it, added 25,000 new federal jobs using stimulus funds. The beauty of this last item is that those are jobs created just to keep track of the stimulus spending. The next time you hear that if we paid welfare benefits directly to recipients rather than wash the money through the government we could hand each freeloader $150,000 per year, now you know why.

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Here’s another elephant gone to contract

10 Taconic

10 Taconic

I’m not a fan of huge houses but I liked this one. It’s close to town, has a very nice, private yard and a lot of space that made sense. I did not like its price of $8.6 when it came on but the seller knocked $2 million off that and how has a contract. Good for him.

I was told last spring, when I tried to schedule an appointment to show this that it had an accepted offer. That never bore fruit so perhaps the buyer has returned or another one turned up. Either way, it’s always encouraging to see evidence that some people still have money and are willing to spend it.

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The mortgage mess is bad and will get worse

Well, yeah.

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Good news, bad news for the Musselman bomber

Our Denver bus driver Najibulla Zazi must have been relieved to learn in court today that the charge he’d been arrested on, lying to federal investigators, had been dismissed. The bad news for this man of peace is that he’s been indicted in New York City for conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. Sucks when that happens.

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Market test?

98 Doubling

98 Doubling

This relatively new house on Doubling Road seems nice enough to me but a colleague suggests that, when they shoot The Munsters 2050″ the producers will want this kind of building to use as the family manse. Regardless, it sold new for $7.770 million in April 2007 and was put back up for sale at $8.450 in June 2009. Today it is reported as “pending”, which is just short of a contract with no outstanding contingencies. You would think, given its brief stay on the market, that the sellers are getting close to their asking price but that surprises me. Is the market really coming back to 2007 levels and even higher? No other sales indicate that, so either this is a welcome (to sellers) sign that buyers have rediscovered their checkbooks, or it’s an extraordinary exception to prevailing market prices or it’s a short sale – take your pick.

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Open House Thursday!

Well I’ve looked over the list and I’m going to Town Hall instead to see who’s pissed off his lender recently.

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Learns of Greenwich’s generous pension plan, takes early retirement

Assistant to First Selectman leaves after one day.

By the way, Greenwich Time reports that the previous occupant of this office is still on the payroll, fielding “nuisance complaints” two days a week. I personally consider any complaint tossed in my direction a nuisance – does Peter Tesei share that view or is there some particular category of complaint that merits this woman’s attention?

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Killing Granny

viking shipNewsweek Magazine, a publication I haven’t encountered since high school, has an excellent article on the cost of end-of-life care and its contribution to our current medical mess. Here’s an excerpt:

The idea that we might ration health care to seniors (or anyone else) is political anathema. Politicians do not dare breathe the R word, lest they be accused—however wrongly—of trying to pull the plug on Grandma. But the need to spend less money on the elderly at the end of life is the elephant in the room in the health-reform debate. Everyone sees it but no one wants to talk about it. At a more basic level, Americans are afraid not just of dying, but of talking and thinking about death. Until Americans learn to contemplate death as more than a scientific challenge to be overcome, our health-care system will remain unfixable.

Compared with other Western countries, the United States has more health care—but, generally speaking, not better health care. There is no way we can get control of costs, which have grown by nearly 50 percent in the past decade, without finding a way to stop overtreating patients. In his address to Congress, President Obama spoke airily about reducing inefficiency, but he slid past the hard choices that will have to be made to stop health care from devouring ever-larger slices of the economy and tax dollar. A significant portion of the savings will have to come from the money we spend on seniors at the end of life because, as Willie Sutton explained about why he robbed banks, that’s where the money is.

As President Obama said, most of the uncontrolled growth in federal spending and the deficit comes from Medicare; nothing else comes close. Almost a third of the money spent by Medicare—about $66.8 billion a year—goes to chronically ill patients in the last two years of life. This might seem obvious—of course the costs come at the end, when patients are the sickest. But that can’t explain what researchers at Dartmouth have discovered: Medicare spends twice as much on similar patients in some parts of the country as in others. The average cost of a Medicare patient in Miami is $16,351; the average in Honolulu is $5,311. In the Bronx, N.Y., it’s $12,543. In Fargo, N.D., $5,738. The average Medicare patient undergoing end-of-life treatment spends 21.9 days in a Manhattan hospital. In Mason City, Iowa, he or she spends only 6.1 days.

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A Potemkin housing market

The Fed announced yesterday that it will continue to buy mortgages, thereby continuing to supply a market for 80% of all new mortgages being generated. This is seen as good news by the real estate industry because, they acknowledge, without the federal government to back it up, there is no mortgage market.

“We definitely need help from the government,” says Lee Barrett, president of Century 21 Barrett, a real-estate brokerage firm in Las Vegas. “I don’t think the market can make it on its own.” He also hopes Congress will extend tax credits for home buyers due to expire at the end of November.

There seems to be no investor appetite for used (distressed) mortgages as evidenced by the fate of several IPOs which were peddling them and I suspect that same avoidance applies to new mortgages as well. So don’t count on the Fed ending its mortgage program soon, not even next year, when it’s scheduled to do so. But if the only source of financing for home purchases is the federal government’s printing press, we are in a world of artificial demand, propped up by make-believe dollars and I, at least, don’t see how that continues indefinitely.

 

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Here’s a blow to top executives

Sorry, your insurance card was rejected

Sorry, your insurance card was rejected

Massage therapy to be taxed out of existence. In fact, the situation may not be so amusing. The Bloomberg article linked to describes a Senate health plan provision that would tax all health insurance benefit plans in excess of $8,000 at a 40% rate, thereby forcing all but the most generous employers to eliminate them. This is all done in the name of levelling, of course (my guess is that it won’t apply to the Senators’ own health plan so you needn’t worry about Chris Dodd going without his massage girls). We are going to get National Health care,ne plan fits all, no choice, and limited benefits. Anyone who tells you different, even if he’s the President of the United States, is a liar.

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Round Hill land sale

239-241 Round Hill Road

239-241 Round Hill Road

6.8 acres for the impressive sum of $6.5 million. It’s in the two-acre zone, but I’m pretty sure that its value is as one large lot, so $1 million an acre is an excellent price, for the seller. Building lots in the Round Hill neighborhood have sold between mid$2 and low $3, and if, like me, you consider this one building lot, the seller just pocketed a tidy windfall. (Technically, this was two discrete lot sales: 239, $3.6, 241, $2.9).

There’s another unusual twist to this sale in that it’s one of the few I’ve seen where raising the price actually produced a sale (well I have no knowledge of cause and effect but at least the price hike didn’t kill it). 239 Round Hill, one of the two lots, was priced at $3.9 for two weeks before being raised to $4.522 (?). It sold for $3.6, but still.

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