Daily Archives: February 1, 2012

It’s all about power and control, from your money to what you eat, think or say

Food Police

Sugar is as bad as alcohol and tobacco, say these academics. Their solution? Regulate it, of course. And they aren’t even based in San Francisco.

UPDATE: Oops – as a reader points out, of course they’re from San Francisco.  Should have caught that.

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Call in the Village People!

We're with you, Frank Corvino!

Nothing doing at yesterday’s pre-trial settlement conference between JPMorgan Chase and the YMCA vs. heirs of  the original grantor.

The gist of the lawsuit is this: the YMCA has defaulted on a $20 million loan from Chase. Chase wants to foreclose or otherwise dispose of the property so it can get its money back and the Y, in exchange for Chase’s forbearance on enforcing that loan, has joined forces with the bank. Together, they have sued the heirs, claiming that a provision in the original grant which returned title to the grantor if the property ever ceased being used as a YMCA expired on the death of the grantor. The present suit is a “quiet title” action, seeking to remove that reversionary interest so that, presumably, the Y building can cease being used as a Y and converted to some other use such as, it is rumored, an annex for Greenwich Hospital.

Dean Montgomery, attorney for heirs holding 50% of the reversionary interest, has kindly supplied me with copies of the pleadings and it’s  enough to transport me back to One L property law. Black Acre, White Acre, heirs and assigns, covenants running with the land, and so on. When I was too stressed to sleep that first year I would get into bed, open my property law text book and begin reading. I was usually asleep within minutes.

But this is kind of fun stuff, given the stakes involved. I hold no sympathy for the people running the Y – they imported a director who had previously bankrupted a Y in California and he promptly did the same for them, leading them into a ruinous expansion plan that has resulted in the $20 million bad debt to Chase, $4 million + owed to the general contractor, Worth Construction, and well over another million owed to various subcontractors. In short, the Y is f**ked, and they did it to themselves. I’ll shed no tears if the organization fails. In fact, given their debt, I don’t see how the Y can survive.

And then what happens? Does Chase get its claws on the building and sell it off to Greenwich Hospital? Turn it into a Dunkin Donuts food court? Open a new banking branch?

Stay tuned – oral argument is set for Stamford Superior Court February 13th.

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What a surprise

Better than mining - income up 6 fold. Thanks, my fellow democrats.

Income in energy states rose last year but the biggest winner of all, by far, was the District of Columbia. It’s true that  DC has a large population of illiterate po’ folk but I don’t think that’s who’s getting rich, do you?

A new study reflects a stark divide in economic fortunes across the country, with 38 states seeing household income decline from recession to recovery, while 13[sic – Obama math?] reported gains, propelled by petroleum, shale and other energy commodities.

The District of Columbia notched the greatest increase over the 2007-2010 period, with an 8.1% jump in income. That was more than double the pace of the next-highest gainer, Wyoming, where natural resources including oil and minerals lifted incomes 3.6%. The gains in the nation’s capital, according to the report, are due in part to employment by the federal government.

That’s right, we mustn’t forget all the lobbyists, lawyers and apparatchiks servicing the whore of Babylon.

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Uh oh, I don’t think that’s Lucille

Getting to know her metes and bounds

Jeremy Kaye, Esq. “The Tiger of Lewis Street”, is vacationing in Florida, and when he isn’t sending me annoying emails, he’s enjoying the waters. The boy was just on vacation in California! The law side of this real estate business must be better than I thought, or Jeremy just has a lot of time on his hands. Relieved to see that, whether that’s his wife or not, Jeremy isn’t hanging out with his new friend Lance. I heard “Key West”, and I worried.

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Cos Cob can still fetch a decent price

195 Cat Rock Road, a Jordan Saper house built in 2004 and sold in 2005 for $4.175, was asking $3.695 (it dropped from $3.995) and now has an accepted offer. Maybe $3.5 ish?

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An expensive rental but still, they were lucky to get off so cheap

12 Wahneta Road in Old Greenwich sold for $2.225 million, a pretty big bite out of the $2.6 million the owners paid for it in 2010.

UPDATE: I’m told that the sellers are building a huge house in the neighborhood and just wanted a place to stay for a year – didn’t care what it cost, they said, and they obviously didn’t – figure around $550,000 out of pocket (loss on house plus commissions, taxes, etc.) and that’s $45,000 a month for rent. I can understand someone having so much money they can treat a hit this size with indifference but if it were me, I might have rented a more spacious mansion for that kind of money. Could have worked out a deal for Leona’s place, for instance.

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Obama disguises himself as himself, robs McDonald’s

Your money and your life!

Yeah sure, it wasn’t him. How else could he and Michelle Antoinette “raise” $5.3 million last night when they say they’re relying on three-buck donations to run their campaign? While the man’s working overtime to produce ever more of them, there just aren’t that many Little People available, yet.

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Another Riverside listing (Rvsd open house is tomorrow, so everything gets dumped on today)

Twenty-three Pierce Road. 1927 farmhouse-style, nicely renovated awhile back, asking $2.3 million. I liked this house when I saw it last time (and the time before that – all we do in Greenwich is sell the same houses). The sellers paid $1.950 for it in 2008 on an initial price of $2.4. I’d suggest the same discount today, plus maybe a small adjustment downward to reflect the uh, “correction” in the market since then? But your call – pretty good house for Riverside in this price range, so you may not have the negotiating room you might have in another area in town.

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South of the Village sale in OG

59 Park Avenue South has sold again – this is a nicer house, relatively new construction and it seems to sell quickly (6 months, this time) when it comes on the market. I don’t like that it has a vacant lot right freakin’ next to it but that doesn’t bother buyers here – they obviously don’t intend on staying long enough for that lot to be built on. It last sold for $2.395 in 2007 and this time fetched $2.195. These days, that passes as a win.

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New Riverside listings

I’m curious, albeit skeptical, about three new listings that will be on tomorrow’s open house tour. Two are on Carriglea, half-way down  Indian Head, the other’s on one of Riverside’s busier streets, Summit Road.

38 Carriglea

38 Carriglea is a contemporary without waterfront. The usual use for contemporaries on Carriglea is as dumpster fodder and those that have direct waterfront have sold well, back in the day: $5 million or so. This one is not on the water, so what’s an acre on a good street worth with 3,300 sq.ft. of T-11 siding and 1970’s styling? Maybe $3.995, as the owners think, maybe not.

Same sentiments for 44 Carriglea, which also lacks waterfront but is 1,000 feet bigger. These owners say “SELL!” but they’ve priced it at $4.250 million. Another maybe. I just don’t think 1972 marked the high water mark of American architecture but, while the listing makes no mention of anything done to the house since that time, I’m hopeful that the owners at least removed the avocado refrigerator and baths.

Riverside mobile home

And then there’s 73 Summit Road, which sold for $915,000 in a bidding war – remember those? – in 2004 and now, renovated, wants $2 million. As is the case with the Carriglea properties, I haven’t seen this one yet but I’ll be curious to see how they crammed $1 million in improvements into a 5-lb bag. Could have been done, I suppose.

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Another medium-ticket home sells

A little life in the $5 million + range. 18 Edson Road (a little dead end off Round Hill, near Bourke and Noel’s abodes but a couple of miles from Raj’s – no Kenny Rogers concerts for you) has sold for $5.850 million; asking price was $6.895. Built by the senior Kali-Naagy, this was a beautifully crafted house, naturally, but handicapped by its limited FAR. It was built in 2007, wouldn’t sell at $6.895 and was dropped in 2010 to $6.495, then bumped back up to $6.895 in July, 2011. A surprising stubbornness, given what it finally sold at but that’s not uncommon in Greenwich.

If the tax card is to believed, there’s $5.279 million in mortgage debt on this place – assuming it wasn’t built with 100% borrowed money, there was no profit here.

Off topic, there’s a great new listing on today – I’ll blog about it tomorrow but before exposing it to you, the unwashed, I’ve emailed a client with its details. More later, if my guy passes on it.

UPDATE: Jeremy Kaye, the seller’s lawyer and most feared attorney in Greenwich – he makes Tom Ward look like a pussy cat – writes from Key West that Mr. Kaali – Nagy didn’t have big mortgages on this house, despite what the town records show and in fact made a pretty penny on the deal. Glad to hear it.

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He probably doesn’t work for Credit Suisse

Price reported: 11 Skyridge, listed at $13.9 million and falling to contract in mere days, sold yesterday for $13 million.

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Welcome to 2003 pricing

In fact, we’ve been there for the last year or so, but the encouraging news (unless you bought after 2003)  is that the Greenwich real estate market seems to be holding steady at that level, for houses that have been maintained or improved in the intervening years – those in bad condition, like yesterday’s Riversville Road shack, are getting hammered.

Here’s another example: 17 Lockwood Road in Riverside sold for $1.9 million in 2003, asked $2.125 when it came up for sale this year and now has an accepted offer, probably close to that $1.9 number. The house isn’t bad and is about what you should expect to get for $2 million in Riverside, in my opinion.

The guy who really made out at this location was the original owner, a friend of mine, who bought it new in 1998 for $1.2 and sold it to these sellers in 2003 for that aforesaid $1.9. Back then, we all expected houses to go up in value. Back then.

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Expired listings

Fourteen are shown as expired today, the first of February. Looking over the list, there’s not one I’m surprised didn’t sell. Gee.

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We’ve lost our will, our minds and the war

The killers of Daniel Pearl - minions of Satan or just misunderstood muslims with a justifiable grievance? Ask CAIR

The Council on American-Islamic relations [sic] has pressured West Point into cancelling a speech by a retired general who has in the past “cast Islam in a poor light”. Specifically, the general has described the war on terror as a war against Satan. I rather suspect he doesn’t support Islam’s other activities either, like beheading school girls, sexually mutilating women, hanging homosexuals and the use of suicide bombers to blow up Muslims, Jews, Christians and atheists. I am dismayed that our premiere military academy would yield to a despicable terrorist group like CAIR.

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Will it sell? Maybe

(2002 picture)

61 Perkins Road has come on for sale today, asking $2.780. That’s not crazy for this street, which has seen houses sell in the past few years from around $1.5 to $7 million plus, but it depends how much work has actually been done to this place. The sellers paid $1.725 for it in 2002 and had they done nothing to it since then I’d think it should sell for that price again. But the listing mentions what sounds like an extensive renovation in 2006, including a new entranceway, kitchen, renovated bathrooms, etc. It’s still got 5 bedrooms and three baths and although its listed square footage indicates the owners expanded it from 3,200 sq. ft. to 4,,722, some or all of that may just be the inclusion of the basement in the square footage calculation.

So again, I haven’t seen this yet and look forward to doing so tomorrow. I have clients looking in this range and Perkins, with its 2-acre lots and close-to-town location, is a desirable street. I’m hoping that it is well priced (Sandy Shaw, the listing agent, is no dummy) because, despite what readers might think from these pages, I’d much rather sell a house and pocket a commission than dismiss it as a dog. Woof.

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Are university professors overpaid?

Would you entrust your children to these people?

If throwing huge sums of disposable income at worthless politicians is evidence, then yes, yes they are. University of California profs donated $1.6 million to the Messiah last year, Harvard $878,000. Bankers and Silicon Valley companies were hardly less generous (Goldman Sachs big wigs ah, secretaries tossed in a $ million) but I can understand extortion – freely giving to this man says all that’s needed about the type of people running the big schools and exactly how much money they have floating free in their jeans’ pockets. Tax ’em, Danno.

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