Daily Archives: November 6, 2009

Well, that’s alright then.

Queens woman: “I cut off dad’s penis and burned it but I didn’t want him to die.”

As Ms. Bobbet might suggest, try a little tenderizer.

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As long as we have stupid rich people the smart will prosper

“Dry Basement” company cashing in on swine flu panic, charging up to $2,000 to “disinfect” houses with unproven “all natural” thyme oil spray. God bless them – people dumb enough to pay for this don’t deserve to keep their money.

Since the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, Brookfield-based American Dry Basement Systems never has been busier disinfecting homes and businesses with a botanical agent.

“We’re buying it by the pallet load, which is hundreds of gallons at a time,” said Peter O’Shay, founder of American Dry Basement Systems and MoldPro. “It kills all bacteria, germs and influenza.”

American Dry Basement, which has been using a proprietary thyme oil-based liquid made to remove mold, has been getting more calls to use it to sanitize buildings, O’Shea said.

“If we’re out for waterproofing, people also ask about the disinfectant,” said O’Shea, who employs about 100 workers to cover southern New England. “We’re getting about 40 calls a day and are doing about 20 homes a week.”

His business is also getting requests to disinfect commercial buildings, such as a large hotel in southern Connecticut, and is in the process of cleaning several buildings at the University of Bridgeport, O’Shea said.

“We’re getting calls from schools all over the place,” he said.

A major advantage of the liquid is that it has no harmful chemicals and does not have to be wiped off of surfaces, as required of more toxic treatments by the Environmental Protection Agency, O’Shea said.

“This is completely green,” he said. “You can drink it.”

Costs range from $200 to $2,000 to disinfect a house, O’Shea said.

So, what can we find out about this company? Customer reviews range from awful to okay. As for “thyme oil”, there are lots of whole earthy sites touting its benefits as an aromatherapy aid, and even a disinfectant but I could not find a single scientific study on the latter use – and, just asking here, if “you can drink it” (safely, one assumes) exactly how powerful can it be as a germ killer? The website for this company does say its stuff is “EPA Registered”, but is that like one of those “name your star” scams where the sellers promise to register your star’s name with the Library of Congress? Sending in a registration form is not the same, it seems to me, as receiving a certification from the EPA that they’ve tested and approved your product as a disinfectant.

I have nothing against this company – it’s doing its part in the natural selection process that separates fools from their money (see, eg, anonymous’ comment below about losers taking the train and “winners’ driving $150,000 Mercedes. He was probably the first customer of Dry Basement). But for heaven’s sake, if you’re really going to spend $2,000 on this quackery, give me a call first; I’ll send over a genuine shaman with dream catchers and love beads and he’ll chase that evil swine flu from your house for, say, fifteen hundred bucks. Such a deal.

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Is the Pray family getting back into the car business?



This was once your father' Oldsmobile

Thieves hit Beemers at Old Greenwich, Riverside train stations, stripping wheels and other good stuff. Greenwich police baffled, suggest walking to the train.

“But wait’ll we release October’s figures on seat belt violation arrests”, GPD Chief David Ridberg vowed. “We’re taking a bite out of crime. And,” he noted, “campaign sign thefts? Absolutely none since Tuesday. Guess we cleared that one up, eh?”



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Tina Pray gets artistic


Tina Pray (right) with Malcolm

Arrested for falsely claiming loss for stolen art work. At 46, the girl is getting a little long in the tooth for youthful hijinks. Newcomers to town won’t remember her father, Malcolm, but he ran Pray Volkswagen (with Perry Blanchard’s father, originally) from the early 1960s and grew it to include Audi, Porsche and a huge swath of real estate on the Post Road before retiring and selling to New Country.

Say, you don’t suppose yesterday’s story about the 1965 VW bus showing up after being stolen 30 years ago ….

Photo credit Fairfieldcountylook.com.


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Finally, the teeth are bared in ObamaKare

Pelosi: buy a $15,000 health insurance policy or go to jail. In fairness to Her Highness, this is a perfectly logical outcome of mandatory health care because  you can’t demand insurers to waive pre-existing conditions, as the bill does, and not make the program mandatory. Otherwise, people will wait to get sick before buying insurance and quit when they’re well, leaving the insurer, government or private, with nothing but services-sucking customers. That’s not affordable under any scheme, socialist or otherwise.

But just because this is logical, I doubt most Americans have focused on it and I don’t believe a majority of them will approve of it – everyone loves a free lunch but lots of folks skip out when the bill arrives. So JimBo Himes and Pelosi’s other minions face a real dilemma tomorrow, assuming the bill comes up for a vote: do Queen Nancy’s bidding and suffer personal catastrophe in 2011 when the voters will have discovered what he’s done to them or tell Nanny to piss off and give up all hope of being awarded a coveted committee seat and a really neat office? Oh what will he do? What will he do?


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Is it time for the Board of Realtors to enforce some standards?

20 Heronvue

Long term rental - maybe

With 280 houses awaiting foreclosure in town, the odds of renting one without being told that you could get tossed out by the foreclosing lender at any time are pretty good – especially because my colleagues don’t like to mention that possibility on their listing sheets. This one at 20 Heronvue is just the latest example. You can buy it for $4.350 million (but don’t offer less – we did, and were met by a stream of profanity that would have made my own Marine Corp Granny blush. We got a better deal up the street, though, so thank you, sir) or, as of today, you can rent it for $12,500 a month and, in the words of its agent Jay Cook, enjoy


You may be comfortable and you may enjoy woodland quietude, but there’s certainly no guarantee of “quiet enjoyment” – the place has a $3.5 million mortgage on it that’s being foreclosed on. That action could be dragged out long enough for you to stay a full year here, or it may not, but wouldn’t you want to know about the possibility of being evicted some “quiet” Saturday morning?

I’m not picking on Jay in particular – there must be dozens of rental offerings on the market right now and none warn of pending foreclosures. But if agents and their brokers won’t disclose it, the Board ought to, because, supposedly, we’re all in this business to be fair and to protect the interests of all parties in a real estate transaction, not just the one paying our fee. Supposedly.

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Fortunately, with no future for journalism, we need not worry about the young’uns at CJR

From InstaPundit:

COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW BLOWS IT: “Some obscure tea-bagging operation”?

Columbia Journalism Review goes after a fellow non-profit news organization, ProPublica, for a ProPublica article on wasteful stimulus spending. Columbia Journalism Review criticizes ProPublica for using a quotation from a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, which Columbia Journalism Review sneeringly and condescendingly and dismissively and, well, offensively, characterizes as “some obscure tea-bagging operation.” Citizens Against Government Waste has been around since 1984, and its 2007 IRS Form 990 indicates it had revenue and expenses of about $4.4 million, more if you include an affiliated 501(c)4 group. It claims “more than one million members and supporters.” Its directors as of the 2007 Form 990 included Vin Weber, who is a big deal. Its annual “pig book” report is widely covered.

[InstaPundit’s professor Glen Reynolds:] I’m on the CJR spam list, and it seems to me that the quality of work there has fallen notably over the past several years, while the CJR has grown progressively more politicized. That they’ve reached the point of attacking ProPublica — hardly a right-leaning organization itself — is indicative.

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Follow up on the idiot

As of close of business today it looks as though the closing scheduled for today and sabotaged by a professional Realtor (capitalized and trademarked, if you please) has somehow survived his best efforts and will go forward Tuesday. If so, this delay will only cause interest to accrue at $985 a day for five more days, money that will go to the lender, not the agent’s client. D’uh.

I’m still at a loss to explain what dim circuit lighted up this fellow’s neurons and caused him to use a contractual condition that was of no concern to the buyer, the seller or either party’s lawyers to screw up the deal. He can’t explain it or won’t, and has retreated into radio silence, I hope from embarrassment.

I’m reminded of a kid I grew up with here in town who seemed to have had a few chromosomes go astray during gestation. He was a little slow – alright, a lot of slow – and as I watched him fail at job after job through the years I worried about him, until his mother, a local politician, arranged for a town job for him just before her own death. Now I see him around town clearing clogged storm drains and raking leaves and I’m glad – another ten years in the cold and he can retire with a pension and not spend his declining years sharing a cardboard box with me.

So I am not angry with this poor, befuddled guy who can’t sell real estate. I understand his handicap and I sympathize. In fact, I hope he too has a politically connected mommy who can take care of his future. He’s going to need it.


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Politicians will do the dumbest things

Lin Lavery managed to destroy her chances to be elected Greenwich first selectman by, a week before the election, putting out a mailer that in one page revealed her to be ignorant about the issue she was writing on, dead wrong on every single allegation contained thereon and provided proof that she was a shallow, petty person who refused to even acknowledge her errors when they were exposed. Goodbye, 10 point lead, hello, ignominy, all in 24 hours.

So that was dumb. But how about Florida’s Governor Crist who, when lawyer Scott Rothstein turned out to be running a Ponzi scheme and Russian money, claimed he “barely knew the guy” when he knew, or should have known, there were pictures out there proving different? Like, just for instance, this one, where the gov and Rotthstein appear together blowing out candles purchased by Rothstein for Crist’s campaign fund to the tune of $52,000? Now that’s really dumb. Lin should consider moving to Florida and running against Crist in the upcoming senate campaign. She could still claim to be smarter than he is.


Ah, who's gonna remember some dumb party?

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Going down with the ship


I'll yield my house only to my garbage man, damn you!

There’s a house in NoPo asking $1.495 that may or may not be worth that much but regardless, the owners rejected out of hand my client’s offer of $1.1. Fair enough, and if the seller thought he could get a better deal, God bless him. But God had better move fast.

I already knew that his mortgage was being foreclosed on – it’s what attracted my attention in the first place, like blood in the water to a shark – but I didn’t realize until today that other creditors have piled on. On the land records now we see new liens, including the Connecticut tax authority, the friendly folks at the IRS and even the local garbage man. My advice to strapped sellers is, when you can’t pay your trashman, let alone the IRS, try at least countering “low” offers and see if you can’t get out of trouble.


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Out-of-town buyer uses out-of-town broker in 2008 and this is what happens

15 Carleton

Seemed like a good idea at the time

15 Carelton (lower Lake Avenue behind the hospital) is being offered for $2.395 million and is listed with the original selling agent, Lisa Gabriel. If you wonder why the owners aren’t using the broker who sold this to them last year as the market collapsed, here’s a hint:



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Riverside is not immune to this market

4 druid

4 Druid Lane

The current sellers of this home paid $2,000,005 for it in 2004, slightly above its $1.995,000 asking price. They tried getting $2.395 for it this past April and today they dropped it to $1.750. Assessment is just $1.25ish so in this case, I hope the assessment is wrong.


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While you were away: the fall market ended

It never started, really, but it’s dead now. Pull your house and start decorating for the holidays.

But not everything is quiet – banks and other creditors are busy filing liens and foreclosing homes. 309 Stanwich, the place where that poor guy checked out in the garage last spring, is now owned by WaMu, or whoever owns WaMu now. Over at 36 Hillcrest Park a disgruntled creditor is suing, claiming a fraudulent transfer (which is when you “sell” your property to someone else in a way that leaves yuu judgement proof), 26 Cedarwood, that burned down place supposedly sold last summer seems to have been a financial work-around. It must not have worked because the bank is back with a fresh lien. 15 MacArthur must not have sold after all – a new lien, etc.

On the commercial ledger, a prominent retail office space on East Putnam Avenue faces foreclosure on a $7.6 million mortgage – ouch, and the Manero’s condos now sport a mechanic’s lien in the amount of $177,000 claimed by the steel supplier. This last may be just a commercial dispute concerning a developer who won’t pay rather than one who can’t, but coming on the heels of yesterday’s accross the board million dollar pricecuts on the units, it doesn’t sound encouraging.

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I like this one’s price

I haven’t seen 423 Stanwich Road yet – it just came across the wire – but it’s described as a 1971 Colonial re-done in 2009 on 2 acres with a pool. Assessment is $4.136 million, asking is $3.995 and it’s possible the assessment hasn’t caught up with the work done this year. Julianne ward has the listing and she has this to say about it:


Again, I haven’t seen it yet, and sometimes (this will shock you) listing descriptions exaggerate a particular home’s charms, but the location’s okay (just north of Londonderry) if it isn’t impacted by the Merritt and the price looks good. We’ll find out next week.

UPDATE: I did a drive by: only a realtor could describe this as a “Colonial” but “New Jersey Special” would be off-putting here in Greenwich, eh? And I hope that’s stucco on the exterior, not Dri-Vit, or the house isn’t worth much at all. But the inside might well be beautiful and then all will be well.


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A new listing

No contracts today, and no sales (thanks to a certain cretin I’ve already written about) but we do have a new Riverside listing, asking $3.695 million:

19 Willow
19 Willow Rd

Nah, this is the old picture – just a reminder of what Willow used to look like not so long ago. The new house was built this year, has about 4,000 sticking up above ground and more underneath. One quibble, and it’s not restricted to this house: why are builders still building with R-19 insulation in the walls and R-38 in the roof? Insulation’s cheap, oil is not, and will only get more expensive over the next decades, while a new house today is probably going to stick around fifty years or more.


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If houses aren’t moving, agents are

Next to soothing angry sellers whose houses won’t sell, a real estate branch manager’s most important task is poaching agents from competitors. Less money for the competitor, more money for the manager and his  or her employer. That’s the theory, anyway – in actuality, the agents they persuade to jump ship are rarely top performers so I wonder what’s really accomplished by this elaborate game of musical chairs.

Nonetheless, today’s “Green Sheet ” from the Greenwich Board of Realtors shows that Coldwell Banker’s manager has been plying the coffee shops and raided three agents from Weikert. That’s nice for the agents: they’ll finally have access to a color copier – but I’d guess it won’t have any permanent, life-changing effect on them, Weikert or CB. But “CB moves,” it likes to say, so there they go.

Here’s a video of the process.


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Architural Review Board Members

Turns out we have eleven (!) architects sitting on this board and shaping our town to their liking. You can find the list here. I only know Paul Pugliese, who I like and, I hear, sided (so to speak) with the building owner. Someone named Dreck, led the charge for aluminum. The other nine, who knows?

My argument is not with these people – they are an advisory board only and essentially toothless, but with the P&Z members who should have thanked the intellectuals for their input and proceeded to ignore them.


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Idiot wind

Sitting in the office today watching a very stupid colleague screw up a scheduled closing because he has apparently decided to act as his client’s (second) lawyer. I have nothing against stupidity – I practice it myself every day – but to see a blundering moron confuse his role with that of a real lawyer is frustrating. Especially so when this latest fumbling comes after two months of the same behavior, where the fellow, trying to “advocate for his client”, has put obstacle after obstacle in the way of the deal, thwarting his client’s best interests and costing everyone (including me, hence my pique) a ton of money, all for, at best, a false illusion that he is an important person.

I am often asked by non-realtors whether they can make money in this business. My answer is, come on in. The level of competition is so appallingly low that an IQ over 85 confers an automatic edge. Of course, you have to deal with drooling idiots like this fellow, but what can you do?


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Mission Creep

Whack a Doodle Doo!

 [Editor’s note: this post entered solely to further annoy reader GreenwichGal. We apologize for any inconvience suffered by others]


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This can’t be good news

Unemployment jumps to 10.2%. Real unemployment (discouraged workers, involuntary part-timers) is 17.5%. When 20% of a country’s workforce is unemployed or under-employed, I think Italy, not the United States.


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