Daily Archives: January 15, 2010

Weep for Haiti

One hundred thousand dead, or more, millions in need of aid and the Haitians clung to control of their airport until today out of pride, even of they couldn’t handle the job. These people have been ravaged since 1492 and, since 1814 (or thereabouts), by their own fellows. Hopeless, I fear.


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Good news for Jimbo Himes

Rich old fart dies, leaves Lawrenceville School $60 million.


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The professionals come to the Codpiece to save Coakley

Two photos via Instapundit that say it all:

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This won’t happen

Democrat: “we’ll pass the Healthcare bill with 51 votes if Coakley loses”. If Coakley loses to Scott Brown, the Democrats won’t be able to round-up 51 of their own to sign on for extinction. Go Brown!

UPDATE: As I said.

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Funny link via InstaPundit

Mayan calendar explained.

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Another spec house and a bidding war winner come on market

6 Coachlamp Lane, on the corner of Stanwich, is ready for buyers and asking $3.695 million. I’m sure it’s going to be a very nice house and its 0.6 acres will allow a good yard, but I think the builder’s timing is unfortunate: he bought the lot in 2007 for $1.350, right as the wave was cresting. We will see.

And 30 Crescent Road in Riverside, which was bought for $1.760 in 2004 in a bidding war (asking price was $1.675) is now for sale at $1.835, a pretty reasonable price after six years of ownership. But as I’ve pointed out here before, the “winners” of those bidding wars back then didn’t fare well when selling in 2009. Perhaps 2010 will be different. Assessment is $1.317.


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Out of town buyers to the rescue, once again

9 "The Avenue"

This house on the Bedford line has sold for $998,000. That’s 72% of its first price, 238 DOM, and way higher than its assessment of $675,000. I assume someone from across the border took a look at its property tax ($5,612) and saw a bargain.


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30% reduction

A new condo on Orchard Place (near I-95 and Bruce Park) wouldn’t sell when it was priced at $2.5 million back in January 2008. Now it has a new broker and a new price, $1.750. That might do it, but the problem with trying to catch a falling knife is that one’s futile grasps are often too little, too late.

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Not for nuttin’ but …

So we have three contracts reported today:

 25 Mooreland, 588 DOM, reduced to $4.395 from $6.250: 70% (final price not yet disclosed)

16 Hope Farm, 471 DOM, reduced to $2.349 from $3.396: 69%

5 Conyer Farm, 549 DOM, reduced to $8.250 from $12.500: 66%

It’s just a crazy suggestion, but if a seller were to put his first price at a level closer to these final ones, I bet the days on market would be reduced.

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Nothing wrong with this market that the right price can’t cure

25 Mooreland Road

The owner of 25 Mooreland Road paid $4.725 million for it in 2004 and put it back on the market for $6.250 in May, 2008. After dropping that price a number of times, he finally hit $4.395 and now has a contract. Assessment is $3.617.


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Big banks and RESPA fraud

Banks holding second mortgage liens are demanding cash kickbacks in short sales- a violation of federal law. I haven’t run into this yet and no Greenwich real estate attorney I know would risk disbarment and jail by filing a false RESPA (federally mandated closing statement) but it’s apparently a growing practice and some of the largest banks are doing it: JP Morgan, Citi and Bank of America. No wonder they can afford to pay themselves such nice bonuses this year.

(H/T, Shoeless)

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The bonus money has landed

(Artist's rendering)

5 Conyers Farm, listed two years ago for $12.5 million and reduced through a series of price cuts to $8.25, has a contract. Your tax dollars at work!


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Coakley and the Amiraults

I’ve resisted posting on Cloakley’s role in this travesty because, if you aren’t familiar with the facts, it’s an awful lot to explain. But today the Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz, who won a Pulitzer for her coverage of the story, has a great recap I can link to. This isn’t a Republican/Democrat issue – it’s about human rights and the willingness of a prosecutor to imprison a man for years solely for her own political advancement. Cloakley should be disbarred and sent back to North Adams, not awarded a senate seat.

The accusations against the Amiraults might well rank as the most astounding ever to be credited in an American courtroom, but for the fact that roughly the same charges were brought by eager prosecutors chasing a similar headline—making cases all across the country in the 1980s. Those which the Amiraults’ prosecutors brought had nevertheless, unforgettable features: so much testimony, so madly preposterous, and so solemnly put forth by the state. The testimony had been extracted from children, cajoled and led by tireless interrogators.

Associated PressMartha Coakley, attorney general of Massachusetts, at a campaign stop, Jan. 13.

Gerald, it was alleged, had plunged a wide-blade butcher knife into the rectum of a 4-year-old boy, which he then had trouble removing. When a teacher in the school saw him in action with the knife, she asked him what he was doing, and then told him not to do it again, a child said. On this testimony, Gerald was convicted of a rape which had, miraculously, left no mark or other injury. Violet had tied a boy to a tree in front of the school one bright afternoon, in full view of everyone, and had assaulted him anally with a stick, and then with “a magic wand.” She would be convicted of these charges. Cheryl had cut the leg off a squirrel.

Other than such testimony, the prosecutors had no shred of physical or other proof that could remotely pass as evidence of abuse. But they did have the power of their challenge to jurors: Convict the Amiraults to make sure the battle against child abuse went forward. Convict, so as not to reject the children who had bravely come forward with charges.

Gerald was sent to prison for 30 to 40 years, his mother and sister sentenced to eight to 20 years. The prosecutors celebrated what they called, at the time “a model, multidisciplinary prosecution.” Gerald’s wife, Patricia, and their three children—the family unfailingly devoted to him—went on with their lives. They spoke to him nightly and cherished such hope as they could find, that he would be restored to them.

Hope arrived in 1995, when Judge Robert Barton ordered a new trial for the women. Violet, now 72, and Cheryl had been imprisoned eight years. This toughest of judges, appalled as he came to know the facts of the case, ordered the women released at once. Judge Barton—known as Black Bart for the long sentences he gave criminals—did not thereafter trouble to conceal his contempt for the prosecutors. They would, he warned, do all in their power to hold on to Gerald, a prediction to prove altogether accurate.

No less outraged, Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein presided over a widely publicized hearings into the case resulting in findings that all the children’s testimony was tainted. He said that “Every trick in the book had been used to get the children to say what the investigators wanted.” The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly—which had never in its 27 year history taken an editorial position on a case—published a scathing one directed at the prosecutors “who seemed unwilling to admit they might have sent innocent people to jail for crimes that had never occurred.”

It was clear, when Martha Coakley took over as the new Middlesex County district attorney in 1999, that public opinion was running sharply against the prosecutors in the case. Violet Amirault was now gone. Ill and penniless after her release, she had been hounded to the end by prosecutors who succeeded in getting the Supreme Judicial Court to void the women’s reversals of conviction. She lay waiting all the last days of her life, suitcase packed, for the expected court order to send her back to prison. Violet would die of cancer before any order came in September 1997.


What does this say about her candidacy? (Ms. Coakley declined to be interviewed.) If the current attorney general of Massachusetts actually believes, as no serious citizen does, the preposterous charges that caused the Amiraults to be thrown into prison—the butcher knife rape with no blood, the public tree-tying episode, the mutilated squirrel and the rest—that is powerful testimony to the mind and capacities of this aspirant to a Senate seat. It is little short of wonderful to hear now of Ms. Coakley’s concern for the rights of terror suspects at Guantanamo—her urgent call for the protection of the right to the presumption of innocence.


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Panic among the cod

But it's Teddy's seat!

Obama heading up to Boston Sunday to try to save Cloakely’s skinny ass. Here’s hoping he achieves the same success he did in Oslo when he pitched the Olympics.


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Aren’t you glad you didn’t buy either of these in 2008?

5 Lindsay Drive

This place at 5 Lindsay Drive was asking $4.750 million in 2008; now it’s down to $3.995. Considering the listing’s mention of plans to build new, I assume it’s being valued as land in which case, it’s still way too high, no?

125 Woodside, in Milbrook, wanted $2.7 million in 2008 and now it can be yours for $1.85. Assessment is $1.5, so the new price looks closer to reality. I get an unending stream of grief from unhappy homeowners and agents because of my pessimistic view of prices but I’ll take that abuse any day rather than lose someone a million bucks foisting an over-priced piece of …. on him.

125 Woodside


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A two-bedroom unit at 11 Palmer Point (Palmer Landing? Whatever) asked $690 and sold yesterday for $530,000. Assessment was $450,00, if other owners want to guess at the current value of their own units. There was a time when 2 bedrooms here sold for a lot more: $635 – $725,000. Now they don’t.

16 Hope farm Road

16 Hope Farm Road

And further north, 16 Hope Farm Road, originally priced at $3.4 million before being marked down to $2.349 is under contract. Assessment is $2.344. This is a very nice house in absolute move-in condition, but the writing on the wall became apparent when its neighbor, #16, sold for $3.550 million late this summer. That seller had paid $4.120 for it in 2004, priced it for resale at $5.395 and couldn’t get it. Its assessment was $3.459


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More fun with statistics

We have 128 single family homes for sale now in the $2.7 to $4.5 range, and, depending on what kind of year we’re going to have, that could be good or bad.

Sales in that range are :

2006: 131                   

2007: 125

2008: 74

2009: 66

2010: 1

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Well yeah, but he’s a black idiot so we can’t pick on him

It's either the Jews' or the Deniers' fault, so let's just kill them all!

Pat Robertson came under attack this week by the White House and just about every other right-thinking Amurican for claiming that  Haiti’s earthquake was God’s punishment for them forsaking Him. Fair enough, although I’d have to agree with Robertson that Haiti does seem to be cursed, for whatever reason, but now comes Danny Glover with his own God-the-punisher theory and, so far, I haven’t heard the White House go after him. Glover, you see, claims that the earthquake is God’s answer for our failing to solve global warming when we were over in Copenhagen. Why God would choose poor Haiti to use as an example to the rest of us is a theological question best left for Glover and Robertson to resolve.


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High-end inventory

A reader asked about the $10 million-and-up inventory and since we have no significant real estate news to report this morning, I took a look at what’s out there and what’s been selling. Here:

Current inventory, $9,995 +   :  42 single family houses.

We’ve been getting rid of them as follows:

2006: 9 sold at 83% (avg) ask-to-sales ratio, avg. Days on Market (DOM): 205

2007: 25 sold @85% ask-to-sales ratio, DOM: 256

2008: 9 sold @ 69% ask-to-sales ratio, DOM 370

2009: 16 sold @79% ask-to-sales ratio, DOM: 323

2010: 0

So it’s anyone’s guess how long the current inventory will last: if we go back to 2008-like conditions, we’re looking at 4.66 years inventory assuming no more come on the market. If we have a robust, 2007-like year, we have only a twenty month supply. Either way, if you’re trying to sell one of these, I wouldn’t start packing just yet.


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This is not the time for nibbling

8 Glen Court

I like this house and I like the street it sits on, but it’s been for sale since March 2007 without moving, despite the seller raising his price from $2.4 million to $2.5 in September, 2007 and eventually dropping it to $2.195. Today he’s slashed that by a full 2%, making its new price $2.150. Call me crazy, but most buyers in this market assume that any asking price is at least 10% higher than what the seller will actually take and are bidding accordingly, so I don’t believe a teeny-little price cut will cause anyone who wasn’t interested to bid on this now.


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