Daily Archives: February 23, 2012

Oh goody, a compare and contrast question!

Remember these from the SAT’s? This one is presented by InstaPundit:

UPDATE: Related: Environmentalists in the pay of the gas industry:

To put the $26.1 million in context, compare the funding for the Heartland Institute, about which one critic stated, “That the Heartland Institute is effectively acting as a front group for big oil and energy, raising money from companies which are threatened by climate policies, so that it can essentially do their dirty work in undermining legislation that threatens their corporate bottom line.” Heartland received a grand total of $676,500 from Exxon between 1998-2006 and $200,000 from the Koch Foundation in 2011. If that amount makes Heartland a “front group for big oil and energy,” what does $26 million it make the Sierra Club for natural gas?

That’s different. We know their hearts are pure, no matter what our lying eyes say.

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Looking for information

I see that our legislature is working on a new law concerning genetically modified food and I wondered how many laws and regulations our Hartford yahoos pass each year and how many they repeal? The answer to the second question is easy: zero, but does any reader out there know where to go for the numbers for the first part? Google, at least as searched by me, was no help.

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Would you people lighten up?

If a mustard seed has passed through a camel, is it still a virgin?

Yes, I know the difference between Wahhabi, the terrorist school of muslim belief supported, taught and encouraged by the Saudi government, and the scorching Japanese mustard, wasabi. And it would be amusing to see the latter placed in the orifices  of the former’s practitioners when the camel is thorough with it.

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Did 2010 prices mark the bottom?

The sellers of 398 Stanwich Road clearly hope so, because they’ve listed it today for $5.695 million. There’s an interesting history here. The house was built in 2004 and placed for sale in June of that year asking $5.745 million. It sold in just fourteen days for $5.550 million. In January, 2009, the new owners tried asking $6.345 million (apparently they’d added improvements) but sold it 491 days later in July, 2010, for $5.350. Now those buyers are trying their luck (no further improvements noted) at $5.695. I assume that, after some negotiating, they’d like to get back their 2010 purchase price.

And they might. This is a nice house, if you like this style of building, and 2010 did seem to mark the bottom of the market, either temporarily or permanently. I’m curious to see how this one does.

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Out of contract

(horses by Photoshop)

Forty Locusts, reported as an accepted offer in January, is back on the market, still asking $1.995 million. It’s not my house but after 949 days on the market and a price reduction from $2.795 to $1.995, I’d suggest that the price is still too high.

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I’m not cherry picking, I’m telling you what’s going on in the market

A few readers complain that my reports of houses selling for less than they were purchased in, say 2003 are the result of my “cherry picking” which houses to showcase. To the contrary, there is so little real estate activity these days that I can report on almost every sale and contract and, so far as I know, I haven’t come across a house that increased in value since 2008. There could be an exception or two that I missed, but trust me on this: if you bought your house within the past five years, you can pretty much expect to lose money if you have to sell now.

Latest case in point is this modest bungalow in Cos Cob at 29 Barton Lane. Purchased for $1.065 million in 2005, it was put up for sale at $1.140 June, 2011. After several price reductions it hit $875,000 this month and that must have been the magic number because it has an accepted offer.

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I never did understand eastern religions

Hee haw!

A reader writes to gently chide me on my earlier post concerning Muslims burning bibles and concludes, “Arab does not equal Muslim”. It doesn’t? What they hell are they then? Isn’t Saudi Arabia the safekeeper of Mecca, the holy land of the Muslim world? Isn’t the Kingdom the state sponsor of the most vile, hateful form of muslimity, the Wasabi? And, just as a by the bye, I thought wasabi was that stuff they dabbed on a camel’s butt to make him run faster. Am I wrong? Walt?

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Back from Thursday open houses

A number of decent houses in different price ranges, I thought. Low to high:

45 Indian Mill Road, $1.195 – confession: I did not get to this one (the police are under orders not to permit me in Cos Cob) but heard good things about it from other agents. Assessment, supposed to be 70% of market value, is $970,000 so $1195 is a reasonable starting place.

11 Dorchester, Riverside, $2.095. A good street with no through traffic, this house is large and in excellent shape. Walk to the schools and train, what do you expect for $2? I might dicker a bit but again, the ask isn’t a crazy place to start.

87 Perkins Road, Greenwich. $3.3 million. Brand new to the market, I liked this one a lot. Good two-acre property, with flat usable yard instead of the usual Perkins Road amalgam of swamps and rocks. Pool, too. Inside has been completely redone and it doesn’t at all feel like the typical 60’s house in this area. But warning: as you know, real estate is entirely personal to the buyer and one of my clients, seeing pictures of this house, decided to pass. Perfectly understandable, given what he’s looking for, but I’m certain someone else will like the house very much. Well priced, says I.

41 Meadowbank, Old Greenwich, $10. gazillion. Excellent views and the house has been greatly improved by the present owner – even the exterior has been reworked and no longer brings shame to the architectural profession. But which would you rather, this one all done up at $10 million or to build new at 22 Pilot Rock in Riverside, asking $8, just for the land? Assuming that at this point your funds are unlimited, I’d go with Pilot Rock, and here’s why:

Better views. Meadowbank overlooks the Sound to the east, yielding lots of water, the Stamford light house and that ugly cube of the Suffolk County Government Tower way down island. All water is beautiful, to my eye, but Pilot Rock offers entertainment with its views: small boat traffic off of Tod’s and in the inner harbor, large yachts out behind the islands and off in the distance, the Manhattan skyline. Can’t be beat.

Better neighbors. Meadowbank is right next to, and I mean right next to – Rocky Point Swim Club while Pilot basically has no neighbors or none that will hold swim meets for 300 screaming kids all day followed by BYO parties late into Saturday night. That may not bother you in the least but it clearly did the owner of Meadowbank – he’s trying to move away, remember? I assume that someone with his kind of money is by nature a mature, refined soul yet the swim club noise transformed him into a screaming, rude maniac, one despised and deeply disliked by his neighbors. Do you want to suffer the same fate? Insist on earmuffs for the family before taking title, or stay away entirely. Your choice, but ten million bucks is a lot to pay for the opportunity to be driven insane.

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I report, you complain

154 North Street sold yesterday for $1.735 million, $700,000 less than its last asking price and far less than the $3.5 million first sought in October, 2007, right after the great collapse. I wonder if the sellers turned down offers higher than the final selling price over the past five years?

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Deer Park, that’s old water!

27 Midwood

27 Midwood Road, part of the Deer Park Rockefeller development from so long ago (although this was actually built in 1995), has cut its price again and is now at $7.995 million. Believe it or not, that’s a pretty good price for this house and this neighborhood. It is certainly a better price than the $12.750 million it sought in 2008. Thirteen million morphed down as the years passed, all the way to $9.750 in 2010 before a new broker jacked it back up to $10.375. That strategy failed – buyers won’t agree to be punished just because a seller’s angry at them for not seeing his value – and now, as I said, it’s $7.995.

As listing agents are so fond of saying (although this one doesn’t) “this one won’t last! It probably will, of course, but if you’re in this range and like this location (I do) then check it out – it’s a good one.

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Just curious

Burning Salman Rushdie

The U.S. Army has apologized to a bunch of illiterate Afghans for burning  discarded Korans. What, I wonder, happens to the bibles confiscated from unwary travelers who bring them into muslim countries like Saudi Arabia?

UPDATE: Google and ye shall find. Official policy of the Saudis is to shred confiscated bibles. These sacred pages will doubtless suffer an even more degrading fate should the Arabs ever discover toilet paper (now that’s a left-handed compliment!).

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One of the best buys in Greenwich

Clothing by GHTS

Greenwich Hospital Thrift Store being profiled by Good Morning America  (half the crew of which seems to live in town. I’ve always appreciated great clothing but I’m far too cheap to actually pay, you know, – retail for it. The Thrift Store solved that problem for me back when I had to wear fancy clothes by offering $2,500 suits for maybe  $25,  silk/wool blazers for the same price, etc.

When closets are emptied in the Back Country it appears that the lady of the house, after grabbing armloads of designer dresses she’s worn but once, then goes through her husband’s closet to fill out the load. At least I assume that’s what happens because how else does a top-quality suit (and when I mentioned $2,500 suits I was using 1999ish prices) end up here for the great unwashed to grab?

We’re talking Greenwich here, not Waterbury. Brioni, not a sweaty pair of Carharts shucked from the corpse of a dead dozer operator by his grieving widow (although those are offered too, in the “Cos Cob” department in the rear). Great deal.

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