Daily Archives: October 29, 2009
A reader sent along a link to this story which encapsulates Walter Noel’s career. It’s pretty much a recap of what we already knew but isn’t it fun to stroll down memory lane? And there’s this:
Fairfield Greenwich investors believe that Walter Noel along with his foreign born son-in-laws have stuffed hundreds of millions of dollars into accounts in offshore tax havens, possibly in the Caribbean, South America and Europe. The lawyers representing Greenwich Fairfield investors say that these offshore monies could prove tricky to recover. However, one attorney close to the defense team of Walter Noel, says the belief is that Noel could be indicted in England on money laundering charges.
Walter is now keeping a low profile, as people avoid him and there has been at least one public verbal attack. Monica looks washed out, but supports Walter and tries to keep up his spirits. Youngest daughter Marisa has declared that she had been poor and is prepared to be poor again. In the meantime, Fairfield Greenwich is the target of a number of lawsuits, including a class-action suit filed by angry investors in U.S.On December 19, 2008, a class action lawsuit filed in the New York State Supreme Court by Pasha and Julia Anwar accuses Fairfield’s fund managers of failing to manage the investors’ money with due diligence, leading to “avoidable losses” from Madoff’s firm. The investors also attack Fairfield for reaping “unjust” fees.
On March 30, 2009, a Connecticut judge temporarily froze all of the personal and real property assets of Walter Noel, Jeffrey Tucker, and Andres Piedrahita, all involved in a lawsuit filed by the town of Fairfield’s pension funds. The lawsuit accuses six investment firms and ten individuals of acting criminally when they encouraged institutions and individuals to invest money with Bernard Madoff. The suit includes three people who are principals of Fairfield Greenwich Group, Walter M. Noel, Jr., Jeffrey H.Tucker, and Andres Piedrahita.
What gives with these guys? Picking a fight with Fox might be explained as an appeal to their lefty base, but Edmund Cars? Are you kidding me? The country’s got 10% unemployment, Obama wants to remake the medical industry, take over the economy and pick up his Nobel Prize in Oslo and he thinks it’s a valuable use of his resources to go after a used car web site? This is so crazy that even fans of the man ought to be worried.
Stocks soar, “It’s Waterloo for the bears”. Take your pick, politics, houses or stocks. I’m a contrarian by nature and when the same idiots who brought us Y2K, BioTech, Dot.Com and Collateralized Mortgage Obligations start yelling about a bull market, I punt. Your opinion may differ.
UPDATE: Mongo have great pain between ears. According to this guy, traders he spoke with today insist that we’re seeing suckers rally and the market will drop off a cliff next week. So the contrarian should buy against that sentiment, right? I’m sticking to real estate.
Absolutely nothing of significance to report about Greenwich real estate today – that one pathetic sale on Woodland, and that’s it. Period. I’ve been running around all week, busier than I have been all year, and have one deal closing next week, another one going to contract, I hope, and a number of good offers pending responses. I’ve even been involved in two bidding wars this week, a phenomenon not seen much in the past two years. I’m obviously not the only agent with eager buyers – the bidding wars show that – so what’s with the lack of contracts? It’s quiet out there, sergeant – too quiet.
Asking price: $39,500,000. Assessment: $21,000,000. Sales price: $4,138,568.
New construction, original 2008 listing price, $2.695. Sold yesterday, $1.790 (66% asking price). No assessment yet.
66 -year-old (!) South Carolina (no “!”) Assistant AG fired after being caught in his car with 18-year-old stripper, sex toys and Viagra. Even in Governor Stanford’s state, this sort of activity, conducted away from the Appalachian Trail, is deemed unacceptable for a representative of the law. They seem to be losing their sense of humor down there in the Palmetto State, and that’s too bad.
Sam Romeo and his North Mianus neighbors are suing the town of Greenwich over the assessments levied against their property to cover the cost of installing sewers in the neighborhood. I’m (somewhat) sympathetic – the town seems to have bungled the project and ran it far longer, at far higher cost, than should have happened in a perfect world (and it didn’t help that our local cops racked up, as they are permitted to do under state law, $500,000 in overtime pay for waving at traffic). If I understand the suit correctly, the town is paying 75% of the total cost and charging the neighborhoods served by the new sewer the balance: 25%. I’m pretty sure that’s in accordance with town law, and that North Mianus folks are arguing that the law is wrong, in this case, because the town caused costs to soar.
Last week, a Superior Court judge, Greenwich’s own Kevin Tierney, temporarily stopped Greenwich from collecting on the unpaid assessments, but he left interest on that sum running at 18%
What the court’s ruling did was to enjoin Greenwich from enforcing its lien on the properties of homeowners who are refusing to pay their sewer tax assessment, but only until the underlying suit is concluded. That could take years and until then, the court has ruled that interest on the unpaid money will continue to accrue at 18%. A few years of that and the litigious homeowners will owe more in interest than they’re fighting about and that won’t help their bargaining position. Settlement discussions, I predict, will end up focusing on how much interest the plaintiffs will pay in addition to the amount they originally owed. That’s not much of a victory.
I think the homeowners would have been better served paying the assessment and then suing for a refund. Their tactic of refusing to pay, thus exposing themselves to the statutory 18% interest accruing each year and risking everything on a complete victory is flawed, from a strategery [Bush joke, Hiram] position. But that’s just the opinion of a no-longer-practicing attorney with no dog in the fight. Time will eventually reveal whether they were right to risk so much.
Norwalk mayoral candidate’s $4.5 million Wilson Point home auctioned for $725,000. That would be less than 86% of it’s 2005 value, Russ, even if it is is Norwalk.
(h/t, P.I. OG)
Russ Pruner, a terrific fellow and a realtor I really respect, writes to complain that I’m cherry picking sales in this column, highlighting low-priced sales and ignoring “reality”. Here’s what he says:
[T]o date both MLS and direct sales that have sold in 2009, as of close of business today, for the entire market are selling for 11%, on average, below their 2005 full value – not the 30%+ you keep telling your readers. The median sales price is 14% below the 2005 full value that the Town of Greenwich placed on a property. I agree some properties have sold at their assessed value or less but many more properties have sold for well above their 2005 assessed value not to say their 2005 full value – 24% of all the properties sold in 2009, both MLS and direct sales, have sold above their 2005 full value. Maybe properties in the future do sell at their 2005 assessed values, you nor I, will know that until we have the sales data to show it – by then you will be talking about 2010 assessed values not 2005. Right now though the majority of the market is still selling a good 15-20% above where you are telling you readers.
Whatever. Russ and his firm have a ton of listings to move, and naturally he wants to get the best price for his customers. So do I, but I’m representing buyers. We have different objectives. There are indeed many houses selling for more than their 2005 values – I’m reluctant to point them out because I couldn’t do so without wondering what kind of sucker would pay that much and who the hell did his agent think she was representing? Giving in to such dark thoughts would just lead to even more grievances filed against me.
My buyers are looking for bargains, and the point of my writing these days is to highlight those bargains, to demonstrate to buyers that there are some excellent values available and they are in fact selling. Russ says the average house has only dropped 14% below its 2005 value, which is great, if you’re a seller. And if you want to pay what Russ and the greater pool of Greenwich realtors thinks is a proper price, by all means, give him a call – he’s got lots of homes to show you. On the other hand, there are other houses, just as nice, going for far less, but your realtor has to look for them, rather than shield his eyes and insist that every house is the best-priced home on the very bestest street in the bestest neighborhood in Greenwich. Russ doesn’t do that, by the way; many of our competitors do, though, and while Russ, because he’s such a nice guy, defends them, I’m not and I don’t. I think if you pay anything close to 2005 values today you’re a chump and a fool and an agent who pushes you to pay that much is not serving your best interests.