Daily Archives: May 9, 2011

This should be interesting

When David Ogilvy first had this listing at 164 Round Hill Road back in 2001 he priced it at $19 million. It was a magnificent house (although I didn’t like the neighbor’s house overlooking this property’s pool) but it took until 2004 to sell, and even then it only fetched $12.8.

The new owners have, according to the listing, spent the past four years completely renovating it and now it’s back up for sale at $19.495. That sounds like a lot of money, but I’m looking forward to seeing it tomorrow. It really was an exceptional house in 2001 – it should be astonishing now. If it isn’t, you’ll hear about here first.


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I like Amazon

Their customer service, anyway – it’s right up there with LL Bean. I’ve had some disappointments with my Kindle – the original gave up the ghost after a couple of years, I dropped its replacement and broke that, and the cover with a reading light arrived malfunctioning. So all of that’s not so good, but Amazon’s service department sold me a new generation reader for $80 (retail $149) to replace the original, sent me a free replacement for the one I dropped, even though I confessed straight off that I’d dropped it and was really calling to buy another one, and had a replacement cover on its way the day I called, no questions asked. No complaints here with any of that. I understand that electronics can break or fail, so all I really want is assurance that the seller of such items will stand behind the product and be nice when I call. Amazon does that.


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An interesting house, at this price

423 Stanwich

No one seems to want 423 Stanwich Road, a 10,000 sq. ft. house on two acres close to, but certainly not on the Merritt Parkway. The owner tried unloading it at $5.725 from 2003-2005, pulled it, and put it back up for sale in 2009 at $3.995.  Many brokers and price cuts later, it’s marked down today to $2.875.

When I saw it, I thought the house was very nice. It’s got a decorating scheme that I wouldn’t prefer but that’s entirely personal and easily modified to suit a buyer’s taste. The land is decent, it has a nice pool, little to no road noise and the house itself has a nice flow to it. And here’s the kicker, it’s assessed at $4.270 million. It’s a lot of house for the money, now, and if you’re looking on mid-to upper Stanwich, you might want to check this out.


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Chieftans – a drag on the market

12 Chieftans

These houses, carved from the old Gimbel estate, have always been tough sells. They’re way out there on the west side of town (I’m guessing it’s the only place our beloved forefathers would let Jews settle back then), right on King Street and under the Westchester Airport flight path. Not a convenient place at all.

But they do sell, eventually. This one failed to sell in 2002-2003 at $2.595, came back on the market in 2007 at $2.995 and now, four years later, has sold for $2.650.

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Here’s someone who thinks the market’s coming back

This Millbrook listing at 27 Orchard Drive expired unsold in February when it was asking $3.750 million. It came back on in April at $3.950 and today trimmed its sails a bit to $3.850. What the seller perhaps didn’t realize is that by February the spring market is well underway and by this time in May, it’s almost over. Should have cut that February price, not increased it.

By the way, is that the ugliest entrance to a house you’ve seen? A yawning maw of a garage, welcoming homeowner and guest alike. Ugh, fake clouds notwithstanding. House looks nice inside, though.


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Even with an inventory shortage, there’s still room for common sense

56 Laddins Rock

Here’s a house that went nowhere in 2009 when it was priced at $949,000. I’m sure that that picture on the left didn’t really excite Internet buyers, but aiming for 150% of assessed value in a dead market is a venture doomed from the start. The house was pulled for all of last year and is back today, priced at $660,000, a marked improvement. Still, I’d wish for more transparency in the listing. It is not, for instance, a “2,500 sq.ft” house, unless you count the 800 + sq. ft. basement. The town doesn’t, and says this house is 1,767 sq.ft. And buyers don’t either – they aren’t stupid, and can figure out the difference between a windowless cinderblock hole and finished above-ground living space.

Oh well – at least it has a fighting chance to find a buyer now. Maybe.

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Lack of inventory in the lower half of the market drives prices up

35 Highview Ave

Priced at $1.650 4/15/11, accepted offer in 12 days and today a full contract. Astonishing, in one sense, but if you look at what’s available south of the Village in this price range, not so  surprising.


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Bankruptcy sales

A builder named Tsoi’s collection of unsold spec houses is back on the market once again via, once again, the bankruptcy court. The asking prices are silly but if these eventually sell, I doubt they will help their neighbors’ home values.

29 Byfield now asks $5.995. It’s been as high [sic] as $9.495, as low as $4.99 million, now it’s six. Going nowhere.

101 Dingletown, $5.999. Wait for the auction.

32 Montgomery Lane. $5.3 million. Again, wait for the auction. There was a fire in a house on Montgomery Road yesterday, but no address was supplied. This one?

18 Ridgebrook. Another Byfield. Once asked $6.950, then $3.495, now it’s $4.490.

Maybe there’s a way to bundle this whole mess together and take all four at a deep discount.


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This will be an interesting test of market conditions

11 Will Merry Road (no picture yet) has been listed today for $3.650 million. It’s on 2.6 acres but I believe it’s on the Merritt Parkway side of the road, never a popular option. Built in 1989, nothing done to its 5,376 sq. ft. since (or not worth mentioning on its listing), assessed at $2.563.

There have been two sales on Will Merry in roughly this price range, but both were on the other side of the road, away from the Merritt. Number 10, new construction, sold in 2005 for $3.73 million but that was 7,000 sq. feet of brand-new house and, of course, pre-crash.

Number 46, 2.81 acres, assessed almost identically to 11 – $2.546 -, sold for $2.615 in July, 2010.

I’m just guessing, and I haven’t seen the house yet, but I’m inclined to think this new listing is going to fall closer to 46’s sales price than #10’s. Unless the market has really zoomed up while I wasn’t looking, which is always possible.

UPDATE: While running Will Merry statistics, I saw that Number 10 has been up for resale since June, 2010, at the “make me move” price of $5.490. No price drop in a year suggests that the owner is not really here to hunt bear, if you know that joke.


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I don’t get it

More buyers go  without representation. Whatever.


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You had your chance, Buddy

Newt Gingrich to announce presidential bid on Wednesday. I don’t mind the Newt, and he says and writes a lot of sensible stuff, but the Republicans don’t need a retread. Nor do they need any of the current “front runners” out there right now – not if they want to unseat Obummer. I say we press “reset” and try again.


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Westchester buyer?

6 West Lane

Not my cup of tea but this massive (12,000 sq.ft) house off Bedford Road on the Bedford border has sold for $7.750, down from its $8.5 asking price but well above its 2007 sales price of $7.250 (the listing claims that improvements were made in 2010). That’s a big price for this location. Assessment, $5.4 million.

On a lesser scale, 10 Boyd Lane, a side street off of Riverside Lane in NoPo, has sold for $562,500, a drop from its original price of $835,000 but, for a 1,200 sq.ft. hovel unimproved since 1946, impressive all the same. Assessment was $617,000, so it shows what they know.


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Connecticut’s train to nowhere gets derailed

$30 million of taxpayers’ money being shipped out from Washington instead of the expected $270 million. Lest you think that you, lucky taxpayer, caught a break, forget it – California has its own dead-end railroad and it’s getting $300 million. Question: faced with (at least) a $240 million shortfall, do you suppose Governor Malloy will mothball this silly project or push ahead anyway, counting on Washington to bail him out later on? If you guessed mothballs, boy are you a chump.


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Old, stupid and in the way

Economist Robert Samuelson is still alive and opining in the Washington Post, but is too feeble in his dotage than to do anything but rely on the NAR’s economist for his predictions on the housing market. If there is anyone on the national scene spewing out more BS on housing than the National Association of Realtors I am unaware of it, and Samuelson should know better. At one point, maybe in the 60’s, he did.

UPDATE: Never mind! As Inagua points out, I had this guy confused with that old text book writer (I did wonder that he could still be around lo these many years). I’d rewrite it, but the guy’s still a moron for using the NAR as the basis for his predictions.


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A wise move, if they don’t have to sell

112 Indian Head Rd

Nice older house in Riverside on 2 acres (not enough to subdivide, I don’t think) has been withdrawn from the market. It was listed at the aggressive price of $7.250 back in September of 2010, dropped in March to $6.450 and, I presume, never drew an acceptable offer, so the owners have pulled it. There is most certainly a buyer for this house but if the owner wants more than the current market will offer, then he’s right to yank it and wait for better times. Here’s hoping those better times really do come.


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The slow drip of Chinese water torture

56 Riversville Rd

Nice cottage on 2.2 acres, but it was originally listed in 2009 at $2.2 million and only today has it dropped to $1.495 (assessment is $1.2). I think the market spoke on this one long ago.

As an aside, the listing notes that this was the former home of “famed Hollywood and stage actress Margaret Sullivan” but considering the poor lady committed suicide, age 50,  in 1960, followed by the suicide of her 21-year old daughter eight months later and the suicide of her son in 2008, I’m not sure this is a positive selling point.

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I think I can’t I think I can’t

Amtrack’s founder calls it a “massive failure”. Well duh.


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Just in time for Memorial Day tourists

Massive Great White spotted off Martha’s Vineyard


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Home market enters the dreaded “double dip”

Foreclosures flood the market. Its a WSJ article so work around the cash wall by searching Google News for “Home Markets Take a Tumble”. Most relevant quote for Greenwich:

Sellers, meanwhile, are balking. ‘More often, they don’t want to take the first offer’, says [appraiser] Jeffrey Otteau….’ What they don’t realize is, in an oversupplied market, the next offer is for less’.


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Blogger fired after customer complains

A Brooklyn food deliverer  blogger who exposed lousy tippers has been fired after one of those lousy tippers complained to his boss. Resonates with me because I had the same experience at Greenwich Post when I had a weekly column there. Of course, that steered me into blogging and away from print, and it  was one of the best things that could ever have happened (I’d thank the Post’s editor, but he was fired himself soon afterwards) but it reinforces the lesson: you want to write honestly, don’t do it while employed by someone else. I left Raveis when I finally understood this.


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