Daily Archives: November 10, 2011

For a different point of view

I'm buying a pretty little house!

Brother Gideon now has his own blog, so you can go there for happy real estate news  rather than wade though my grumpy musings.  I’m reminded of our grandmother’s contention that the Christian Science Monitor printed only “‘good” news. As a young lad, I thought that sounded like the dumbest idea for a paper I’d ever heard of and it was only years later that I discovered that the Monitor was an excellent newspaper – it was just that Granny skipped over anything that threatened to disturb her equanimity. Oh well.

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A beautiful house on Rocky Point

I visited 20 Rocky Point Rd’s open house today with a sceptical mind, but my, what a nice bit of building. Peter Marks did the construction and, in my opinion, he matches in quality the best builders in town. Great design and spectacular waterfront views. There’s a separate pool/guest house, decent yard and a dock, so it’s a complete package.

My only quibble is its price of $14.5 million – that’s a huge chunk of change for some folks (not for me, of course) and I wonder if the people with that kind of money have the proper-size ego to like this kind of house. Rocky Point is (mostly) a street of unprepossessing homes and the club at the end of the street, while probably the nicest club in town doesn’t carry the prestige of its snobbier brethren. This is all to the good in my book, but how will anyone know how rich you are if you hide your wealth down a long driveway whose approach is sullied by mere $1.5 – $3 million homes? Oh, the shame of it all!

That said, this is a fantastic place and if you’re comfortable with who you are and what you’ve achieved, you could reward yourself for all your hard work by buying this beauty (and of course, the Occupy Wall Street mob will never think to look for you here).

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Suing someone? Good luck

Because of the “Speedy Trial Act” , which guarantees criminal defendants a quick trial, and the proliferation of new criminal statutes, civil litigation in our federal courts has ground to a halt. While I have no comparable statistics for our state courts here in Connecticut, recent budget cuts to the judicial system almost certainly will produce the same result. Love lawyers or hate them, this is an issue for litigants (that could be you), not lawyers. Waiting ten years for a dispute’s resolution is no justice at all.

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Zillow estimates

I’m killing time this morning because there’s nothing in the beginning of the open house tour that seems of interest, so I thought to compare some recent sales with their current Zillow estimate of prices. Zillow doesn’t come out so well:

7 Meadowbank, OG   sold @ 3.875, “Zestimate” $2.032 (missed the new construction)

116 Clapboard Ridge. sold @$4.495, Zestimate, $3.209

37 Maher Ave, sold $4.075, Zestimate, $3.3 (original ask price was even further off, at $6.290)

5 Sunset Rd, OG, $4.7. Zestimate, $2.171

531 Riversville, $4.950, Zestimate 3.359

151 Old Church Rd, $5.995, Zestimate, $5.052

9 Woodside, $7.730 (direct sale, no commission), Zestimate, $8.0165 (original ask was $11.5)

With the exception of the Woodside sale, Zillow was pretty far off on these. I wasn’t cherry picking – these were just sales that came to hand, and I’m sure there are other properties where Zillow’s estimate is closer to the mark, but you should be wary of using this service as an accurate guide to a home’s value – sometimes yes, sometimes no – the true test is the marketplace.

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Throw Momma from the train

Greenwich resident  Jonathan Hughes is quoted in Greenwich Post this morning (no link – the Post can’t afford to put all its content on-line) as opposing a large continuing care project on the site of the 15 acre Post Road Ironworks smelter at the western end of the Post Road. Mr. Hughes, a neighbor of the project, has formed the “Greenwich Neighborhoods [sic] Preservation Association to kill the project. Not, Mr. Hughes assures his audience, because of any particular animus against old people, but because of the effect this particular project will have on the “flora and fauna of the environment – don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo”. Oh! He’s also worried about traffic, of course, as every NIMBY always is, although the stream of visitors to nursing homes is distressingly thin.

Some people might welcome wheelchairs that would replace an operating iron smelter but not Mr. Hughes. He’s grown fond of the factory and the car dealerships abutting it and, as noted, he’s really doing this to protect all neighborhoods, not just his own. What a guy.

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A tale of two houses

17 Wynnwood Rd

A decent builder sold a couple of spec houses at the end of Wynnwood Road (off Clapboard at its Lake Avenue intersection). The land was purchased in 2003 for $2.350 million (#17, 2.3 acres) and $2.8 million in May, 2007 (# 15, 1.8 acres). Number 15, 6,800 sq. feet, was listed for sale at $8.650 in June, 2008 and sold, just ahead of the lender’s claws, for $6.350 in September, 2009. Number 17, 9,000 sq. feet, was priced at $10.6 million in November 2009 and sold this past July for $6.5 million.

I liked both houses, if not their original prices, but my clients did not, even when I counseled them that there were relative bargains to be had. I still think my buyers would have done well here but that’s what makes a horse race. The ones who made out on these sales were the buyers – I think the builder got hosed, but he has company these days.

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