Daily Archives: October 15, 2012

Not if Obama can keep encouraging people to drop out of the workforce, it won’t

Economists predict unemployment rate will still be stuck at 7.8% next June. But how do you think Obama managed to get that rate down to 7.8% in the first place? Driving workers out of the workforce.


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Letting go of a dream can be difficult


56 Old Church Rd

56 Old Church Road announced another price cut today and it’s now down to $2.495 million after starting off in 2008 for $3.750. I knew it was ridiculously overpriced then and I’m not wild about this new price either.

Unlike the sellers, I view this not as a 1905 house ready to be brought up to date with, say, telephone and electrical service but rather as 13,068 s.ft. building lot in the R-20 zone. That’s a very small (for Greenwich) house that can be built here – by my math, 2,940 sq.ft., including a garage. What’s an under-sized building lot on Old Church worth? I’d think it’s less than what’s being asked, but a buyer will decide that, not me.


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The progressive’s way to solve Obamacare problems: we’ll wish it away

Bob Horton’s weekly Greenwich Time column takes Peter Tesei to task for overstating the increased health insurance costs ObamaCare will impose on the town.

[ObamaCare] Tesei claimed, would cost the town an additional $30 million between now and 2019. He based his conclusions on a $7,000 study he commissioned from Brown & Brown, one of the nation’s largest insurance brokers.

I spoke Thursday with the report’s author, Dr. Joseph Fields, a former professor of insurance at the University of Connecticut who now works with Brown & Brown. The projected increases, he said, were based on studying town labor contracts and “on what we’ve been seeing in quotes from insurance carriers.”

“The projected price increases vary from carrier to carrier, and from town to town,” the former UConn professor said.

“I used conservative (high) estimates because it produces a number that is going to scare people a little bit,” he said.

There is nothing inherently wrong with using a conservative estimate of rising costs, but if you look at the underlying numbers that Tesei presented in defense of his claim, a full $19 million of the $30 million increase only comes into play in the last fiscal year, 2018-19. And it is not an insurance premium increase; it is a tax on so-called Cadillac plans, which means it is completely avoidable. Cadillac plans refer to expensive plans, like many found in the Northeast, where costs are higher than in the rest of the nation in general. Imposition of the tax was delayed until 2018 to provide enough time to find solutions to avoid the tax hit.

A couple of points here: if $19 million hits later, then $11 million hits sooner – goodbye forever, Byram pool. That’s no loss, except to Bob and Fudrucker, but Horton’s second claim, that the charge on expensive insurance plans “is not a premium increase, it’s a tax, which means it’s completely avoidable” is so silly that only a Democrat could write it, let alone believe it. The tax – a 35% surcharge, will apply to any plan costing more than $10,000 for an individual and $27,000 for a family. I have no idea what Greenwich is paying for its employees’ coverage but I know that I pay $1,000 a month for a plan that covers nothing except the postage to send me denial of claim letters. That’s not a Cadillac that’s a Yugo, yet Obama and Horton want to whack me with a surcharge.

The Cadillac tax is going to hit almost everyone in the Northeast, especially towns like ours with generous employee policies. Even The New York Times acknowledged this as far back as 2009 when the Messiah was just warming up, but seems to have forgotten its warning as time went on.

“Completely avoidable” how, Bob? By reducing health benefits for town workers? Fine by me, but I anticipate a certain resistance on their part. Lowering health care costs across the northeast by having Elizabeth Warren conduct a special campfire dance? Already these costs which were projected by Obama to fall $2,500 this year have increased by that amount. Here’s news: you can’t increase benefits without paying for them. Who’d have guessed?

So Horton looks at a $30 million dollar increase in the town’s insurance costs, dismisses $11 million as not worth bothering about, figures we don’t have to worry about the rest for four or five years and by that time, some secret, undisclosed plan to easily avoid those costs will have surfaced. I don’t understand why Fudrucker hasn’t recruited Bob to run for public office – he’d fit in beautifully with the boys in Hartford.


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Aw come on, go big – take an updated picture

424 Old Long Ridge Road in Stamford announced a price reduction today to $740,000, which seems like a pretty good deal to me: 1.7 acres, 18002 house in a nice, still almost rural section of Stamford, but what do I know about Stamford prices? What I do know, thanks to EOS and other readers’ comments, is the affect a poor picture can have on a home’s chances of attracting a buyer.

I don’t think these sellers are well served by having the picture below, obviously taken in late March or early April when the listing was new, still posted on the Internet. It’s not too late for the agent to trek up there with her iPhone and snap a scene with some fall foliage and with luck she’ll find that the owners have spent the summer clearing up last winter’s detritus and making their terrace look inviting instead of forlorn and abandoned. And heck, while she’s at it, she could Photoshop those utility wires out of the scene too.

In New England we have four seasons



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This time it may stick

17 Sherwood Avenue, bank-owned and asking $1.899, reports another accepted offer. It seemed to have found a buyer last month but that deal fell through. Same buyer coming back or someone new, I don’t know. I really like this house and think it’s a bargain, regardless of the height of its front room (it’s an old house, for crissake) and problems with its well – it needs one. The previous owners paid $3.150 million for it in 2007 and did a good job of renovations before losing it to their lender. The land alone ought to be worth at least, I don’t know, $1.1? $1.3? So a house, with pool, with studio apartment and a free standing garage  for a little bit more than that would work for me. Your opinion may differ.

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Two sales reported

12 Druid Lane, Riverside, asked $3.295, sold for $2.9 million. Sellers bought it new in 2008 for $2.825.

79 Valleywood

79 Valleywood Road, Cos Cob, sold for its full asking price of $895,000 and the only surprise here was that it didn’t sell for more; this was a really good house on a good street asking a reasonable price. A lesson, if you care to take it, in how to price a house – this came on on a Thursday and was gone the following Monday.

Over in Old Greenwich, a two-bedroom unit at the Commons has an accepted offer just a couple of weeks after dropping its price to $449,000. It sold for $445,000 in 2003 and the owners did some upgrades and improvements in 2009 so they expected more, apparently, but prices here have dropped. I sold a similar two-bedroom, also renovated, for $432,000 just a few weeks ago and because these things are pretty much indistinguishable, I’d guess that that sale set the current price.

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It wasn’t him

Mr. Gus Bertolf has called to complain about a previous post, since removed in the interest of fairness, that identified him as the lobsterman who rammed a DEP enforcement boat in the waters off Stamford in the mid-90’s and had his boat confiscated as a reward for his efforts. That was someone else, Bertolf tells me and I’m glad to correct the record.

It’s still  a great story, regardless of who was at the helm, but I regret dragging Mr. Bertolf into its cast of characters. Most people would be proud to have taken part in such a historic act of nautical rebellion but if Bertolf doesn’t want the screen credit I’ll reserve it, and wait for the real player to speak up.


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Here’s a chance to see whether raising the price actually works

Beware of goose

160 Bedford Road, asking $2.990 million, reports an accepted offer after 1,813 days on the market. It originally sold for $3.3 million in 2007 (after a very long stretch of time) and was put back up for sale a few weeks later for $5.295. Last year, when it was priced at just $2.2 million it reported a contract but that must have fallen through because the owner returned it to the market shortly thereafter, this time at $2.990. So did bumping the price a third really work? Really? We’ll have to see.

I’ve always liked this house, by the way, and said so many times during its years on the market. But it has declined over time and now it is, in my view, an eight-acre land sale, nothing more. Sad, because it was once a very nice home. It remains, so far, the only place I’ve shown where my client and I were greeted, indoors, by a diaper-wearing goose.

So there’s that distinction.


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Accepted offer in Cos Cob

(House by PhotoShoppe)

146 Valley Road, high on a cliff overlooking the Mianus and asking $1.260 (started at $1.550 million 510 days ago) seems to have found a buyer, and why not? It sold for $1.395 in 2004. It’s small: 2,000 sq.ft. or so, and has just a master bedroom down, two small bedrooms up, but it was completely renovated in 2003 and would be a really nice house for one of those divorced dads discussed below, who doesn’t want to hide his mistress in Lafayette Court.

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You’re never too rich to be stupid

Lovely, yes, and perhaps even adorable, but I fear they may be just a bit too taste-specific

Would-be sellers raise prices on their mansions.

Amid signs of a rebound in the luxury-housing market, some sellers are trying a bold, if risky, tactic: raising their prices. According to online housing trackerZillow.com, 436 listings priced over $1 million in the New York metro area on the market as of late August had raised their prices over the prior 12 months, compared with 266 for the same period two years prior. In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area, 5% of listings priced above a million dollars had an increase in the recent period, compared with 2.3% two years prior.

“I’m extremely skeptical,” says Jonathan Miller, of appraisal and research firm Miller Samuel. Brokers say raising the price could scare away buyers who were on the fence when the home was asking less. “Unless it’s a unique property, it signals to the market the seller is not serious,” says Donna Olshan, a New York-based broker who publishes a weekly report on luxury Manhattan properties. She adds that homes that have had their prices raised tend to follow the same pattern as overpriced listings—they either sit on the market or get a big price cut.

“In the end, sanity usually wins the day and the price comes back down to reality,” Ms. Olshan says. “You can’t trick the market.”

On the other hand, it’s certainly true that some types of improvements can justify a higher price:

Leonard Steinberg, a New York-based real estate agent, says he recently took on a TriBeCa listing that had been on the market for over a year with another agent, and raised the price by $4.5 million to $49.5 million—after repainting the home’s brightly colored walls and removing some of the more “taste-specific” artwork, including a collection of shrunken heads.


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I’m Barack Obama and I approved this ad, regretfully.

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GAR Evil Princess toured Maine this weekend


October 15, 2012 · 11:21 am

Would the First Lady lie to you?

She might if she thought she could get away with it. Michelle: We’re in the midst of a huge recovery, thanks to Barack Obama.

In an interview, Pablo Sato, co-host of Pablo & Free on WPGC 95.5, a D.C.- metropolitan area hip-hop radio station, asked the first lady,  “Mrs. Obama, you know what, in your words, tell us what you think the state of the union is in right now?”

Mrs. Obama said, “I mean, we are seeing right now that we are in the midst of a huge recovery. Right?  Because of what this president has done.

“Pulled this economy from the brink of collapse when we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now were gaining every — throughout most of his presidency, we’ve been adding jobs to this economy because of what he’s been doing. The stock market has doubled. Housing prices are rising. Foreclosure rates are lowering. But in the face of that, you still have people trying to convince us that things aren’t better.”

The reporter adds this bucket of cold water: “According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the real gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.3 percent in the second quarter of 2012, down from 2.0 percent from first quarter 2012.

The BEA data also show GDP growth of (negative)  – 3.1 percent in 2009; 2.4 percent in 2010; and 1.8 percent in 2011.

In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the national unemployment rate is 7.8 percent, the same rate as when Barack Obama was inaugurated as president in January 2009.”


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Of course they have a religion: it’s called Global Warming

And God so loved the earth, that he gave his only begotten Son, …

And Liberalism in general. Poll: Democrat “progressives” have no religion.


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Lafette, he is here

The Bat Cave: which the Secret Service wouldn’t let us see the other night, although I’ll betcha Paul Ryan got a peek!

Basement apartment in Lafayette Court, asking $168,000, has an accepted offer in just 17 days. Not a bad deal for the seller, who paid $120,000 for it in 1996 and kept up with inflation almost to the penny. Imagine how he’d have fared if the place had a window.


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On a par with the United Nations


I’ll save this for someone worthy, maybe a community organizer/teaching assistant

A Nobel prize for idiots, signifying only bias

It is hard to imagine anything more wrongheaded than last week’s decision by the Nobel Committee to award its Peace Prize to the European Union. Until, that is, one is reminded of the frauds, terrorists, totalitarians and world- class idiots who have won the award over the past 20 years.

The fabulous ignorance necessary to pass over the organization that in reality brought peace to the European continent for the past six decades — the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — and to reward instead a soulless, corrupt, bullying, glorified customs union with pretensions to superpower, beggars belief.

The Nobel Prize was once a towering honor, worthy of the highest respect. Just over half a century ago, in 1953, Albert Schweitzer and General George C. Marshall both received it on the same day, while Winston Churchill picked up the prize for literature. But a rot set in with the political correctness of the 1990s. The (usually Labor Party-dominated) Norwegian parliament, the Storting, chooses the Nobel Committee, and in that decade the Peace Prize was won by Rigoberta Menchu Tum, the Guatemalan activist who fabricated her autobiography and supported murderous Communist guerrillas, and by Yasser Arafat.

The author gives up in disgust before reaching Obummer, who received the prize two weeks after taking office.

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Sell now

Dance of the Black Plague

Poll: Homeowners, realtors expect prices to rise.

After years of pessimism over the direction of home prices, real estate sales folks are finally once again seeing the sunny side of things.

In fact, the numbers are pretty amazing – 80 percent of real estate folks and 62 percent of homeowners see prices going up over the next two years. By contrast, just 5 percent of agents and 14 percent of homeowners polled see home values going down between now and 2014.

Dope smoking fools. And when the fools are rushing to get in, it’s a good time to exit.


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Yankees match Red Sox’s record of accomplishment this season

It’s not how you played the game but did you win or lose?

Both a bunch of losers. But some of us knew that last April.


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