Daily Archives: February 2, 2010

Kurt Vonnegut’s gonna be pissed he missed this deal

Fireman jackets $500 off! Same deal on pants, too. I had no idea these things were so expensive ($1,000).This is such a great deal I was tempted to buy a set but I remembered that I’m neither a fireman nor Kurt Vonnegut.

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Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny?

Only if Obama is headed for something more highly evolved than Bill Clinton,which seems unlikely. Having completely squandered his first year and the public support that put him into the White House by trying out a DOA Hillary health care bill, he now turns to gays in the military. Clinton tried both of these but recovered. I don’t think the Messiah or his advisors are smart enough to pull that trick off.

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Zillow’s advice to Home buyers: low ball like hell!

Hey,you never know.

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Yummie!

"Girl, you'll be a dinner soon, whoa, whoa whoa"

(Apologies to Neil Diamond) . I was cruising the Net just now, looking for recipes for the venison backstraps I’m going to cook for tonight’s dinner, and came across this post on butchering deer. Jibes with my experience, so I thought I’d pass it along.

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REITS and Greenwich real estate

REITS are sitting on cash because they can’t find good real estate to buy. I’ve got (lots of ) buyers and I know I’m not alone, with the desire and ability to buy a house, if only we could find value.

Real-estate investment trusts sold $24 billion in new stock last year, raising hopes the companies would be able to profit from commercial-property distress by picking up high-quality real estate at bargain prices.But publicly traded REITs bought only $4.6 billion of property in 2009, a 67% decline from the previous year, according to research firm Real Capital Analytics.

With few deals happening and REIT shares now trading at twice their March lows, some executives regret last year’s money-raising binge.”Today I’m sitting with $125 million in cash that I can’t find investment for,” Stephen Richter, chief financial officer of Weingarten Realty Investors, said in an interview.

With commercial-property prices some 35% off their peak, most building owners are keeping their best assets off the market. Those properties that do go on the block are attracting a herd of buyers looking to snap up cheap real estate.

Many REIT executives and investors expected the volume of distressed buildings on the market to surge as owners defaulted and lenders foreclosed on property. But while the number of problem loans has been growing, so far this hasn’t translated into many fire sales. Banks have been willing to extend loans rather than foreclosing, and the firms that oversee commercial mortgages bundled into securities have also been slow to sell off distressed assets, market participants say.

“The volume of the properties that are truly distressed and will be sold in a distressed fashion will be significantly less than had initially been thought,” said Bob Steers, the co-chief executive of REIT investor Cohen & Steers Inc.

And that may well be true for Greenwich real estate, depending on how long the lenders can hold out.

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Reuters yanks tax story

A reader pointed this out earlier today but it’s worthy of its own post: Reuters, having reported the middle class tax Obama is proposing in violation of his many, many repeated promises, apparently decided that we can’t handle the truth so it pulled the story.

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Things keep looking up for Walter Noel

A judge has thrown out charges brought against Madoff feeder fund Cohmad. If the feds can’t get those guys, Walt and his dreadful son-in-law Andres are home free. Free from securities fraud charges – there’s every hope that civil suits alleging negligence will still bankrupt them. (Funny – I’ve become so fond of FWIW’s Walt that I actually felt bad writing that about real Walt.)

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Self-explanatory chart from Cato

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Curb your enthusiasm

We’re not out of the woods yet. 140 Park Avenue (in Greenwich, not OG) was a nice little house on 0.41 acres when it was listed in 2004 for $1.799 million. It sold in days in a bidding war for an even $2 million. Now it’s back six years later, priced at $1.995. I doubt a bidding war will break out this time and in fact, I’ll be curious to see what it does sell for. While that 2004 Old Greenwich construction I mentioned earlier held level, I suspect this one has not.

On the other hand, charming as the house itself is, I considered it a building site last time it came up and I still do, so if someone wants to live on this, one of my favorite in-town streets, perhaps they’ll pay up to do so.

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304 Taconic Road

304 Taconic Rd

A reader asked about this famous interior decorator’s house (whose name escapes me because I know nothing about interior decorating), which appeared in the WSJ’s real estate section last Friday. In fact, it’s been for sale since September but the clever listing agent used the occasion of its price dropping from $15.950 million to $14.5 to issue a press release and got it mentioned – nothing wrong with that; that’s smart thinking.

So what about the house itself? I haven’t seen it. It’s a long way up Taconic, bordering Stamford’s Farms Road and close enough to that private zoo with the wild predators that you might want to keep your H&H .375  rifle handy.But privacy it’s got. Per square foot, its 10,000 competes unfavorably with Galleon Boy Gary Rosenbach’s 16,000, also priced at $14.5.  And for the same price, you can get yourself that failed Antares structure on Langhorne  which is what, 30,000 sq.ft? Something like that but it’s unfinished – you’d have to hire this lady to decorate it and that’s probably a few million extra right there. Besides, not everyone wants 16,000 feet of house. Hard to believe, but some folks, especially old, childless ones, prefer the cozy confines a 10,000 sq. ft. cottage affords. No accounting for taste, eh?

House warming gift to lucky buyer!

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Way up North Street

876 North Street

Here’s a house that looks like a pretty good deal. It’s way up North by the Stanwich Club and it’s a contemporary, which I like and you may not, but it’s five acres of land asking, after a price drop today, $2.995 million. Its assessment (70% of 2005 value, remember?) is $2.69 million so that’s sure getting there. I’ll confess that I haven’t been inside despite it having been for sale since last summer but the interior pictures look beautiful, as does the yard and pool, and it was renovated not all that long ago by Shope Warren (sp).

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Land for sale, cheap

66 Midwood Drive in Deer Park, is a full acre and is asking $8.750 million. It sold in 2000 for $3.425 million. Assessment is $3.023. Linda Hodge has the listing.

More of a bargain, in my opinion, is  1.2 acres at 12 Ivanhoe Lane, dropped today from $1.950 to $1.550, assessment $1.3.

Both lots come with houses on them but I don’t believe that’s the point.

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Here’s a surprise

49 Willow Road

49 Willow Road, new construction in Riverside, has gone to contract. It has a great location, across from the Willowmere fountain, and looks great from the street but pretty much falls apart, in my opinion, once you enter. A closed box of a living room to the left, the same box intended as a dining room to the right, and then just one long corridor in back running: garage, mudroom/laundry. kitchen, bigroom. Upstairs holds three bedrooms and a FAR studio, meaning some kind of space with a pinched-in roof to meet FAR requirements and a bathroom attached. Very odd. No back yard, either.

But for all that negativity, it is Riverside, it is new construction and I suppose for a family who wants all that without the $3 million price tag, this one will suffice.

It started a long time ago asking $3.695, which was never going to happen, and finally dropped to $2.775. Presumably the buyer negotiated downward from there. Assessment is just $1.7, but that’s unrealistic, I believe.

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A sale at 2004 price – not so bad

35 Lockwood Avenue

This Old Greenwich home sold new in 2004 for $2.795 million and again yesterday for $2.9. Assessment was $2 million, so Old Greenwich continues to be strong in that respect. I think new(ish) construction is holding value better than older homes so if you’re looking for a real bargain and are willing to do some work (good builders are less expensive and less busy than they were five years ago), I’d concentrate my search on those old dogs.

One builder who is not at all busy these days is the guy who built this one, Richard Girouard of New Canaan. Indicted for bank fraud a year ago he did the usual defendant’s dance of “looking forward to his day in court when all these charges will be shown to be false” blah blah blah, then pled guilty last November. I don’t know if he’s in jail yet but he’s probably not available to answer any warranty calls on this house.

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That’s not very nice

Swiss bank employees are stealing financial records of their customers and selling them to tax authorities in Germany. Oops!

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The NoKos got nothing on us!

Kim Jong II  will  double his visit to factories to inspire greater production. So I was thinking, where have I heard this before? And then I remembered:

Let me tell you my idea of how you should make cars ...

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Greenwich market crawling back

Single family home contracts for January (all figures from the GMLS and do not include private sales)

2010: 21

2009: 9

2008: 27

2007: 40

2006: 38

2005: 43

2004: 51

The market began diving in the winter of 2007-2008  but that, of course was nothing compared to 2009. So we’re seeing some sales, and if prices are down – and they are – it doesn’t mean there’s no money around to buy homes. Buyers are just cautious, which seems wise.

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Rising FHA default rate portends wave of new foreclosures

Any guess who’ll pay for those?

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Shocker – Obama to raise taxes on the middle class

Well of course he will – he has to – there aren’t enough rich to pay for his dreams and they don’t pay taxes anyway – ask Warren Buffet – you want billions, you have to soak the middle class.

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Ah, bonus! Or, there’s a butt for every seat.

1 Meadowcroft

One Meadowcroft, a Mariani house that I thought was his weakest effort to date has sold for $11.375 million. That brings to mind the old joke about cowboy hats and hemorrhoids but never mind – someone obviously liked this place more than I and, unlike me, has the money to back up his convictions. God bless him.

UPDATE: $14,500,000 original list price (dropped eventually to $11.9), 456 DOM, assessment $7.575 million.

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