Daily Archives: April 7, 2010

Promise to install hundred-foot-diameter drainage pipe sways gullible P&Z Commission

Erf Porter: "Cost is no object!"

34 Park Avenue Old Greenwich resident and  “character” Erf Porter won approval last night from a spineless P&Z to subdivide his 0.2 acre home site into five separate parcels. “Sure it seems extreme,” P&Z member Frankie Fudrucker acknowledged to FWIW’s Scusie, “but the cost of solving the flooding on Park  is $100 million, and Erf’s promised to foot half of that. We’d be nuts to turn down fifty  million bucks.”

Pressed on how Mr. Porter, a retired lemonade salesman, could be counted on to come up with such a large sum, Fudrucker shrugged – “that’s his problem, isn’t it?  I mean, if we go ahead and spend all that money fixing the drainage problem and Erf stiffs the town, Tesei is going to be some kind of pissed. And,” he paused, “then Erf’s problem will be Peter’s,  won’t it?”

Fudrucker refused Scusie’s offer of a handkerchief with which to dry his tears.


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But we didn’t need your stinkin’ sewers!

The Romeo "Garibaldi Model" privy

NoPo champion Sam Romeo continues to lead fight against paying for sewer installation. “Who asked us if we wanted sewers?” he demanded of FWIW’s Scusie.

“The old cedar bucket works just fine on my rowboat on the Mianus and as you can see,” he said, waving in the direction of his backyard, “we already have all the sanitation system we need here on land. Now excuse me, it’s time to slop the pigs.”

Reached for comment, First Selectman John Tesei acknowledged what he termed “the looser requirements” of NoPo residents but added, “we really have to bring the entire town up to at least Cos Cob standards. It’s expensive and upsetting to folks like Sam, I know, but hey, welcome to the 19th Century.”


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How many of these are we going to see?

142 Cat Rock


142 cat Rock Road has its share of negatives: a (triple) shared driveway, faces sideways to the street, has a Cos Cob address and is on Cat Rock Road but, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? Still, someone paid $4.050 million for it in 2005. It was placed back up for sale in 2007 for $5.450, which proved overly optimistic, and eventually dropped to $2.995 last fall and was reported as “pending” in October. In February of this year it resurfaced, still at $2.995 and dropped today to $2.825.   

So what happened to the pending sale? Could be the buyer lost his job, the house didn’t pass inspection or the house didn’t appraise out, meaning the bank wouldn’t loan on it. Whatever the case, for a Cos Cob fan out there, this is approaching bargain status. Assessment is $2.476, if you’re looking for a benchmark.


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Ghost of Gideon past

For some odd reason, WordPress has chosen to substitute the photo of brother Gideon for my own dog icon in my comments. Go figure – I can’t, and nothing I can do about, to my knowledge. It’s done this before, then reverted back so perhaps it will again. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!


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Too warm to buy houses?

Barring a late rush of filings, today’s sales activity consists of exactly one modest ($2 million) contract, and even that’s just the second half of a short sale flip from a month ago that was lined up in advance. Perhaps everyone is at the beach.

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Stupid is as stupid does

“Home sales and prices surge!” blares the headline in the Danbury News and thus serves as yet another example of why headline writers shouldn’t be allowed near a newspaper. NYC’s ABC news came by to ask about it this morning and we put Fudrucker in front of their camera because he’s better looking and because he actually knows something about the Bridgeport housing market. My knowledge of the Park City is limited to knowing, I think, that it’s somewhere east of Stamford, wherever that is.

You can catch the Frankie this evening but here’s the deal: of the 43 sales reported in Bridgeport last month, all but one were short sales or sales of bank-owned properties.

These types of sales take months to negotiate so the fact that sales spiked last month merely means that banks and buyers were busy last summer scraping the bottom of the barrel. How low did they scrape? A typical sale was that of a house last sold for $345,000, new construction, selling last month in the low $100’s. No wonder activity is up.

Here’s what the report actually says:

The Warren Group of Massachusetts said Tuesday that 1,291 single-family homes were sold in Connecticut in February, compared with 1,013 in February last year. The group, which publishes the Commercial Record, said the median price for a home sold in the state in February was $227,000, an increase of 3.6 percent compared with the median price of $219,104 the same time last year.

Although it is a positive sign, Timothy Warren Jr., the group’s chief executive officer, said the market is far from recovering the prices it gave up since the recession hit in 2008.

“The median price in 2006 was $345,000,” Warren said. “Last year it was down to $285,000. You lost somewhere between 15 (percent) and 20 percent. It will take three or four years before you get back to being whole.”

Warren said Fairfield and New London counties saw the biggest surge in sales volumes in February. Sales of single-family homes in Fairfield County increased 53 percent, rising from 206 in February 2009 to 315 in February of this year.

Bridgeport was a big player in that sales volume. Sales in the Park City were up nearly 80 percent, according to the report. There were 43 homes sold in the city. Prices in Bridgeport also were up compared with 2009, but are far removed from the price apex of a couple years ago. The median sales price in Bridgeport is $150,000.

“Bridgeport got killed,” said Jared James, of RE/Max Right Choice in Milford. “The people who are feasting on this market are investors.”

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More statistics

(All historical data  from Shore & Country’s website, current from our GMLS)

Current Inventory of single family homes, all prices: 576

2009: 666

2008: 583

2007: 537

2006: 467

2005: 408

2004: 340

Houses gone to contract (all prices):

y.t.d. : 92

Last 60 days: 24

2009 (total): 379

Current inventory single family homes $5,000,000 – $9,999,999: 103

Gone to contract 2010: 7

Contracts 2009: 38 (asking, not final, sales price)

Current inventory, $10,000,000 +: 41

Sold to date: 0

2009: 16

2008: 9

2007: 25

2006: 9

2005: 16

2004: 14

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They’re coming out of the woodwork

2 Tomac Court

2 Tomac Court, that house next to the Colonial era graveyard, wouldn’t sell for $2.495 in 2008 and still refused to budge as its price dropped all the way to $1.895. Its builder withdrew it from the market in December and has now brought it back on for … drumroll please: $2.495!

Assessment is just $1.485 million, but we all know that’s irrelevant.



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Here are some interesting statistics

110 houses sold in 2009 with asking prices of $2.5 and above. Here are the figures for the Original asking prices from $2.5 to $10 million, plus three of my favorites from the $11 million category.

$2.5 – $2.99

9 sales, sales to ask ratio 90%


19 sales, ratio 79.5%


11 sales, ratio 70%


7 sales ratio 84%


6 sales, 78 %


5 sales, $81%


7 sales, 69%

$11 -$12

3 sales, 56%


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A bargain that none of my clients, at least, want

28 Brynwood


This 10,200 square foot project was abandoned in about 2003 and has been locked in litigation ever since. I’m not sure that its siding, left exposed to the weather all this time, is salvageable, but the real problem is that the property (2.5 acres) sits right on the Merritt Parkway. In better days the house next door, similarly afflicted by Parkway noise, sold for $5.2 million but that was then, this is now, and my builder clients aren’t nibbling, even when I tell them that we could probably pick up the place for a song. 

But perhaps those would-be sellers I mentioned earlier would be interested? After all, they think we’re heading back to the glory days and since one of them just, in effect, bought back his own house for $4.3 million, they obviously have the resources to put their money where their mouths are.


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Seller’s optimism is strong

I know of two recent offers, each 80% of asking price, that were not only rejected but met with actual scorn. “I’m not giving my house away!” and “We have plenty of people looking at this place” were the responses. I realize that my fellow agents are feeding these fools’ delusions, but I wonder whether they’re doing their clients any favors?


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This is not brother Gideon’s listing, though one might think so

51 Benjamin St


Gideon’s not the only Greenwich realtor who thinks the market is poised for a roaring comeback, apparently. Here’s a 3 bedroom, one bath cottage in Old Greenwich that sits on 0.12 of an acre, is assessed at $770,000, and came on yesterday at $1.365. FAR permits you to build about 1,600 square feet (unless setbacks force it smaller). That doesn’t seem like a bargain to me but as Gideon will happily tell you, I’m a fool. 

4 Heusted Drive


On the other hand, this house on 4 Heusted also sits on 0.12 of a an acre, but is assessed at $633,000 and is priced at $499,000. I prefer this one.

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Ugliest new construction in Riverside or most interesting?

284 Riverside Avenue

Or both, maybe, but my money’s on the former. This house has been crammed onto an 0.38 lot and the result is cramped: cramped site for drainage work, chopped up rooms, no yard.

But that’s just my opinion – fortunately for the builder it is the market, not the curmudgeon down the street, that will decide this home’s future. Let’s wait and see.


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