Monthly Archives: October 2010

Never pay list price

4 Juniper Hill Rd

This house on Juniper (off of Stanwich) asked $3.395 in 2005, and is assessed at $2.294 million. Sold yesterday for $2.120.

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Jim Himes: thank God for TARP!

The rest of the country hates TARP but in the land of  “Rockefeller Republicans”, Jimbo is making hay out of this great job saving bill. Jobs were saved for high-income individuals, which is fine by me – I  sell houses to these folks, but it’s interesting that the only people who like TARP are the fat cats of Greenwich, because, traditionally, the Demmerkrats posed as champions of the little people. Today, it’s a party for the stupid and the rich. So it goes.

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I tip my hat to his lawyer

Jury tells judge that they’re deadlocked.

Katehis is charged with stabbing Weber more than 50 times in the March 2009 slaying.

Katehis told investigators he grabbed the knife and stabbed Weber accidentally.

“Accidentally” stabbed someone more than fifty times and his lawyer emerged from the scrum with a deadlocked jury? Genius, pure genius.

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Drinking in the ‘burbs

By Teri Buhl

Should Fairfield County Parents take more Action to Stop Underage Drinking?

By Teri Buhl

Early this year Greenwich Magazine named Fairfield County the number ONE underage drinking capital in America. Surprised? New Canaan, CT was named the number two city in the state for underage high school drinking. It’s an issue often gossiped about at dinner parties after a teenager gets alcohol poisoning or a friend’s daughter get taken advantage of by a boy – but a subject often investigated in the local media. The State even passed a law a few years ago giving local cops the right charge Parents who know underage drinking is going on in their home, allow their kids to host drinking parties, or supply alcohol for a party and then leave, with fines from a misdemeanor to a felony. Yet few families in the towns of Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan (who I’ve been polling) have ever been charged since the law took effect.

Over a year ago I started to get complaints about a few Wall Streeters I’ve covered in my finance reporting, allowing their kids to host drinking parties. I started to track the cases where local high school students were boasting about their drinking on their Facebook or MySpace pages and their parents were visible witnesses. I was even able to document a few case where parents filed police reports about missing property during one of these parties, but the local cops did not pursue or charge the parent with allowing the party to happen in the first place . An outgoing Patch editor let me know they’ve also been getting the similar complaints and watched the cops in their town refuse to enforce the law even though they had clear evidence of its violation. It’s an investigation that’s sensitive and I’m often surprised at parents who will complain about this issue but get a shy look on their face when I ask them to go on the record to talk about another parent or their neighbors’ involvement in underage drinking.

I grew up in a zero tolerance home in Southern California and came up with all kinds of creative ways to hide my partying for my eagle eye mother. I can’t imagine what could have happen if there were not strict boundaries set for me. But even then we didn’t have laws telling my parents they couldn’t let me drink at home and have friends over so they could monitor it.  In New Canaan, they’ve recently raised private funds to host 8-week classes for parents on why they shouldn’t allow underage drinking and how they can effect change in their community to get other parents to stop it.

But I have to wonder if the State has gone too far in setting up laws that tell parents how to parent on issue like teen drinking.  I’m still working on this story and would love to hear from parents who read this blog if you have stories about other adults turning a blind eye to underage drinking or if you think the current laws that can charge adults for their kids’ actions are just unnecessary. All conversations will be kept confidential unless you choose to speak out. You can reach me at: teribuhl@gmail.com

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Is this that weird-looking woman who pitches insurance?

Pinups for vets

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How do you factor in distress sales?

But my agent said ...

A week or so ago, I discussed this new listing on Cedarwood. And I had this to say about it:

How about this new listing on Cedarwood? Asking $6.8 million, assessed at $3.8. You can go either way on this one; 34 Cedarwood sold for $7.375 in ’08, which would place this 2001  construction in the running, but 26, built in ’06, sold as a short sale this past April for $4.5. It too is assessed for $3.8. So, do you use the distress price as the bar or the 2008 sale? Me, I’d say go with the $4.5 benchmark, but that’s just me.

I was fortunate last night to run into  noted local appraiser Jeff Jackson and I asked him how he’d handle the  discrepancy between a 2008 free-will sale at $7.375 and a sale on the same street that was forced to sell at $4.5 to avoid foreclosure. As best I understood Jeff, and I am certainly not speaking for him, one sale does not set value. But, Jackson pointed out, if you look around town, there are enough recent distress sales of houses similar to this one  to suggest that you should trend towards the lower, not the higher prices. In other words, you can compare this Cedarwood property to others of its quality and find similar houses in the $5s, not the high $6’s.

Again, that’s my interpretation of a three-minute conversation with Jeff. He himself was offering no opinion. But it’s just common sense: if you can buy a comparable house at $4.5, why would you pay more?

I originally posted on this Cedarwood home not to trash its pricing level, but solely to raise the issue of the affect distress sales have on existing listings. We’ll have to see what happens. My opinion is that existing home sellers have seen a dilution of value and will see that process continue for quite some time. If you have to / want to sell your house before 2012, I’d do so now. Otherwise, wait.

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I wish they wouldn’t do this

The press is full of praise for NYC cop Feris Jones shooting an armed robber, praise she well deserves. She remained cool under fire, shot her man and protected civilians and, yesterday, received an (almost) on-the-spot promotion to detective. I think that’s great, but I’m sorry to see repeated references to her “shooting the gun from his hand”. That was almost certainly not her intention. The robber was holding his revolver in two hands, directly in front of him. As I understand basic pistol training, you’re taught that, if you must fire your weapon, you aim for the body mass and leave the fancy shooting stuff to Hollywood. I’m pretty confident that now-detective Jones was going for the body mass and struck the hands which were extended in front of that mass.

Why is this important? Because a large percentage of the population complains when an armed perpetrator is killed. “Why couldn’t they have shot him in the legs? Hit him in the hand?” go the questions, accompanied by allegations of police brutality. That’s not reality,  but the press is feeding that illusion.

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Save the date: Saturday, October 30th – free clam digging lesson at Tod’s; where to go, how to do it

Town of Greenwich

Shellfish Commission

Roger Bowgen

Chairman

Shellfishing demonstration at Greenwich Point

Saturday October 30th at 1130 am.

The Town of Greenwich Shellfish Commission will hold a Shellfishing demonstration at

Greenwich Point on Saturday 30th October

Meet Commission members next to the Old Greenwich Yacht Club (opposite the Chimes Building) at 1130 am. Saturday morning

Bring a wide tined garden fork or potato rake (if you have one – if not we will supply), “wellington” boots, gloves.

Learn how and where to find hard shell clams, soft shell clams (steamers) and oysters, what equipment is needed to find them and where to obtain a recreational shellfishing permit.

All ages welcome….bring the family and dig for clams…!

It’s FREE.

Rain date : Sunday October 31st 1230 pm

For further information call Roger Bowgen at 203 243 6364 or Michael Long, Director of Environmental Services,Town of Greenwich, 203 622 7835.

Please check Town of Greenwich Shellfish website to confirm status of demonstration on the day of the event in case of bad weather

This is something kids will love to do – I’d say ages five and up, but maybe younger?


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The basement tapes

The P&Z hearing was far less contentious tonight than the last one. This time, just about 100% of the speakers spoke against the proposed regulations and it seemed as though the Commissioners were actually listening. In any event, the matter was “left open” and it will be a month, possibly more, before it comes back again. I’ll at greater length on this tomorrow.

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Has anyone seen Attorney Burt Hoffman?

Burt in the good old days, when he could still reach the phone

Burt Hoffman is a highly respected Stamford lawyer specializing these days in short sales. Eight weeks ago or so, my clients made an offer on a distressed property the owners of which, or their lender, are represented by Mr. Hoffman. Absolute silence since, despite numerous phone calls and emails from us, the would-be buyers’ attorney,  the sellers’ listing agent and even the owners themselves.

About four weeks ago we increased our offer and requested of Mr. Hoffman that, if the new offer was still insufficient to generate a response from his client or from him, yea or nay, that he simply present us with a proposed contract with whatever price he or his client wished. Still no response to any of the parties who have been so urgently attempting to contact him. Naturally, I’m worried about the man and I wonder whether anyone has seen or heard from him since September. Should I file a missing person report?

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Idiot Yankee fans

Toss beer and spit on Cliff Lee’s wife, yelled obscenities. If she has any say in her husband’s decision where to go in his upcoming free agency,  I’d say the Yankees just lost him.

I’ve attended games in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. New York fans, hands down, are the vilest, most obnoxious by far. I stopped attending Shea after my then 10-year-old son John was exposed to just incredible cursing and horrible behavior (not directed at him, but at the other team) and we had box seats. Yankee fans are worse, if possible.

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Just saving you the trouble

Nevada voters find Harry Reid’s name already selected on their ballots.

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Would our government lie to us?

Our Treasury Department has announced that of the $700 billion TARP bailout, final costs to taxpayers would be at most a mere $50 billion, $5 billion for AIG and $45 billion for GM. All the other recipients had paid back their bailout funds, with interest. This story was repeated just this morning on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Now it turns out that the A.I.G. loss was reduced to just $5 billion by chicanery and deft bookkeeping slight-of-hand by the Treasury itself.  Treasury Department hid $45 billion in A.I. G. bailout fees.

Makes me wonder how often this has gone on down there.

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Okay – the P& Z basement hearings are definitely ON. 7:30, Town Hall

See you there!

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P&Z hearing on basements – on the agenda, or not?

As of yesterday, I was informed that this item was going to be removed from the agenda and a reader confirms that it was marked as such on the final agenda. This morning, it’s back on the Final Agenda. So, on or off? Do we now have a Tentative Agenda, a Tentative  Final Agenda and then a Final, We Really Man it Agenda?  What games are being played here? I guess we should plan on bringing our pitchforks and torches tonight, just in case it is going forward.

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The Greenwich Association of Realtors bestirs itself

Message from my organization’s head, Mr. Doug Stevens:

Dear Colleagues,

No doubt you’ve heard much about the recent zoning changes proposed by P&Z regarding residential FAR, lot coverage, drainage and other items. The GAR Board of Directors believe that the far reaching impact of these changes may negatively effect [sic – I suggest “affect” – Ed] a broad section of properties; their value use and potential. As such, the Board unanimously agreed to take a position encouraging P&Z to delay voting on these measures until there is greater (and clearer) public understanding of these potential measures.

If you’re like me, you’ve supported the good intentions of P&Z over the past fifteen or so years; to limit inappropriate construction and preserve the attractive streetscapes of our town. But you’ve also probably scratched your head trying to understand all of the nuances of FAR or simply question why some of its restrictions (finished attics?) even matter. We’ve privately discussed our objections to many FAR components but have ultimately put our relicenses as Greenwich homeowners and REALTORS® in the hands of others. [Editor’s note: if you understand this last sentence you’re a better man than I, Gunga Din] [UPDATE: A reader suggests that the word Doug Stevens, President of the GAR, was searching for was “reliance”, not “relicenses”. I think the reader is right or at least, I hope he is.]

Attached please find a full page “position”  ad that GAR ran in Sunday’s (October 24th) and today’s (Monday, October 25th) Greenwich Time. Also attached are PDF’s with information specific to the proposals. If you haven’t made yourself familiar with them, you’ll probably be surprised. There’s also a very good chance that they may have a negative impact on your property.

I hope that you (and your family, friends and clients) will attend Tuesday night’s meeting. I believe that we should (and will) make a difference in this process.

In fact, the P&Z has dropped the discussion of this matter from tomorrow’s agenda, so I wouldn’t bother attending – I myself will be in the building, but attending a Clam Warden meeting – priorities, always.

Apparently my group had a huge ad in yesterday’s Greenwich Time addressing this issue. I don’t buy the paper so didn’t see the ad, but it certainly ruffled the feathers of the P&Z folks. Ruffled feathers usually lead to negative results, but what are you going do?

UPDATE: Here’s the ad. I don’t see what’s objectionable about it. In fact, it’s pretty tame.

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There probably should be a law against criminal stupidity

Pennsylvania man calls 911 when he purchased “nasty” pot that turned out to be fake.

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Traveling? You might want to avoid Chicago this week

National Weather Service says worst storm in 70 years due to slam into the Windy City  tomorrow morning and stick around through Thursday. O’Hare’s a big airline hub and as my California-based girls have found to our mutual sorrow, when that airport shuts down, airline flights around the nation get all fouled up. Me, I’m staying put.

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Best news I’ve heard in years

New York Times

Conservators facing difficulty preserving modern art. By cousin Henry Fountain who I’m sure would disagree (Henry’s like that), but I hope they fail and we can all just forget about this unfortunate period of our culture.

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