Daily Archives: November 16, 2009

Two big surprises in tomorrow’s paper

Iran probably hiding more nuke plants.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (at that time NY Fed Chairman) grossly overpaid Goldman and his other banking friends for their AIG contracts.

I’m going to be really, really mad if I read anything in the Times debunking Santa Clause before Christmas.

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Psychic applies for Accelerated Rehabilitation after lying to cops


Stop it, Tony! Go find your own shower!

Hey, I have no problem if this lady  Janet Lee wants to keep her record clean, I’m just a little disappointed by this statement attributed to her:


Lee said after her court arraignment that she was telling the truth and felt police were treating her unfair.

“It all came to me as a big surprise,” Lee said in October. “I was brutally beaten, and at the E.R., I never thought I would get arrested.”

Not much of a psychic, is she?

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Here’s something to give Greenwich sellers pause

I linked below to Mark Hanson’s article on the coming collapse of the mid-to-high-en housing market and here it is again. But if you don’t want to read a full page of down news, consider this tidbit:

A $1 Million House is now the House of a Millionaire

A $1 million house is now the home of a millionaire…someone who can put down $270k and show proof of over $200k per year income for the past few years. Oh, and a 740 credit score is paramount. Unlike the bubble years when a $1 million house could be purchased by a moderate income household — one working as a checker at Safeway and one a mailman (both great jobs with a combined gross income of over $100k) — now the buyers must be rich.

There are far more MTH houses on the MLS — and coming at the market in the foreclosure pipeline — than there are rich buyers who a) do not already own b) who are liquid enough to be able to buy a new house and rent their present house c) or that are in the enviable equity position to be able to sell, pay a Realtor and put a large down payment on their new house.

How many millionaires want to live in Greenwich?


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A contract

2 Macpherson

2 Macpherson

This is a grand old house that was undoubtedly grander when North Street, which it abuts, was travelled by horses and not cars (although I suppose dust must have been a problem). It started at $4.495, dropped a million off that and now has a contract, presumably somewhere between its assessed value of $2.6 million and $3.495. The listing agent is selling it to her own client so presumably negotiations were hot and furious.


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Now if we can just keep Hartford’s hands out of our pockets

Spano proposes 4.9% hike in Westchester County property taxes. This should help our own real estate but Hartford sees tax hikes in our neighbors New York and New Jersey as an excuse to raise ours, so ….


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The future of Greenwich real estate?

98 hillcrest

98 Hillcrest Park

This was an older builder special POS from the 60s, located at the bottom end of Hillcrest Park just about on River Road which, while nice enough, has the same feel and tang of lower Bible Street in Cos Cob. Someone dressed it up this year with a new kitchen and baths, priced it at $1.2 million October 30th and already has a contract.

It’s not a bad house at all – I was going to show it to my own clients who are looking in that price range, but the speed with which it went makes me think that that’s where the market is heading. We’re seeing decent activity around $2.5, almost nothing much higher than that and not a heck of a lot below it until you hit the $1.1 – $1.2 range. I think that pattern will continue.


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Another bidding war winner

14 Maher

14 Maher Ave

On a dull day for real estate – no contracts, no significant price reductions, a couple of returning “new” listings and one sale, on Indian Field Road, I went browsing for foreclosure properties and came across this Maher Avenue property. There’s actually some room here for a deal because the mortgage seems to be just a million dollars. The owners bought it in 2007 for $1.695, paying above its asking price of $1.675 and did nothing to it before listing it last month for $1.495 – at least they’ve begun to realize their mistake. The house was built in 1900 and a walk-through this morning suggested that it hasn’t aged well. There’s not a level floor to be found, the doors are tilting, the furnace was probably new when the house switched from coal to oil in 1950 qnd the windows appear to be original. Worse still, there’s not much historical charm to the place – I could tear it down tomorrow with a clear conscience. So what’s it worth? The assessment is $960,000, and not so long ago, an 0.28 building lot on this street was probably worth that. It might be worth taking a chance that those days will come again.


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Coming to a state near you

Probably Connecticut. But for now, consider New York, which is facing a $10 billion deficit and has politicians absolutely refusing to cut salaries or state employee payrolls.

[Senator]  Kruger, a Brooklyn Democrat who is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has amassed a campaign war chest of $2.1 million, in part because of generous contributions from his labor union allies.

Despite a deficit of more than $3 billion, Mr. Kruger has threatened to block any significant cuts to health care and education, the biggest spending areas in the budget. He has presented his own budget plan, which has startled even Albany veterans for its reliance on one-time maneuvers and financial gimmickry.

The governor and lawmakers have clashed over spending before. But recent events have created a new urgency and, in the view of Mr. Paterson and budget analysts, a desperate situation.

The state has lost 270,000 jobs since the start of the recession. The tax bounty from Wall Street has shrunk.

And spending just keeps soaring. New York now spends more than any other state on Medicaid, twice the national average per capita. It also spends the most on school aid, per student, than any other state.

This will be fascinating and awful to watch. The only way out of New York’s budget deficit, if spending cuts are ruled out, is to whack the towns and citizens and, of course, plead for more money from Washington. It’ll be a brutal combination and probably a model of what to expect next year here in Connecticut when our own financial games run out of steam. Whoo boy.


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Hogwash from the BBC

This morning’s BBC News Hour had a heart wrenching story on the UN World Hunger swap meet where various African countries met to discuss how much the taxpayers of the world’s rich nations should pay to keep African leaders’ Swiss bank accounts full. What struck me, besides the sorry story of poverty and hunger, was the claim by the BBC announcer himself that Kenya’s current drought was “the first clear result of global warming”. What a load of hooey.

PBS’s Nova has a program on evolution airing and in last week’s episode, Chapter 4, there’s a fascinating discussion of rapid environmental change in Ethiopia’s Rift Valley (just north of Kenya) between 4 and  2.5 million years ago. A lake 1800 meters deep appeared and disappeared several times over that period, completely changing the environment in as little as 500 years. The hypothesis of the scientists studying this geological phenomenon is that it was these rapid changes and the need to adapt so often and so quickly back and forth between  a jungle environment to a grassland habitat that forced humans to evolve.

Whether (weather?) that theory is true or not, to say that the current drought in Kenya is “caused by global warming” is preposterous and unfounded on fact.


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I blame global warming

As the swine flu pandemic loses its power to shock and awe, media and medical folks have dreamed up a new one, “and this one’s really, really bad – we’re not kidding this time!”.


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Terrorist stop in Cos Cob!


Expired emissions sticker

Approximately 112 Greenwich cops were out in force on the Post Road this morning, stopping cars and nabbing violators of our various motor vehicle laws. Reached for comment by FWIW’s Scusie, GPD Chief David Ridberg was quick to justify the expenditure of manpower and money for such a seemingly – mundane task. “It’s all about being prepared,” he stated. “With Sheik whatshisface coming in for trial in New York every terrorist in the world is gonna want a crack at us. I figure they’ll stop at the Stamford mall for a little shopping while they’re over here, and then drive right through our town on the way to the federal court house in the City. Right through here! They try that and they don’t have their seat belt fastened, boy do we got ’em!”

“We’ve already nabbed one,” he added, “even though this was just a practice run. Big fat fella, with an out of date emissions sticker and possession of an incandescent light bulb. Sure it’ll cost the town money to do this, but if it saves the life of one child ….”


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Now it can be told

Russell Shorto, author of the wonderful “Island at the Center of the World” a history of the Dutch in New Amsterdam, is speaking at the Cole Auditorium tomorrow night at 7:30 PM [corrected from 8 – doors open at 7] . Admission is free but you must call the Hysterical Society at (203) 869-6899 for reservations. Now that I have reserved two seats, I’m passing on the word.

Walt – I reserved two tickets – perhaps you’d like to join me and learn about your betters. Not everyone who came to this country ended up as pig farmers in Tennessee.


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Don’t do it!

I posted an article Saturday from the New York Times about bidding wars returning to the Manhattan market. One couple profiled there had several price opinions for $1.4 million but they heeded the advice of another broker and set it out on the market at $1.1. A bidding war broke out and they sold for $1.6. That’s an excellent result for them, of course, but some buyer obviously got caught up in the frenzy and over-paid. In this market, that’s nuts. Judging from recent resales of older bidding wars here in Greenwich, it seems that no one who won such a war back then is still a winner today. Here’s just such an example:

19 Indian Field

19 Indian Field Road

This bungalow on Indian Field Road, one of our busiest thoroughfares and close enough to Chicken Joe’s to be considered part of Cos Cob, was listed for $749,000 in 2005 and sold for $770,000 to a lucky buyer. Early this year he tried to undo his purchase by listing it back for sale at $799,000 but found no takers at that price. Friday it sold for $600,000 (assessment is $579,000). Out-of-town broker and buyer, by the way.

Lesson for today: if you find a bargain that you want, and others want it too, don’t go overboard.



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