Daily Archives: November 9, 2012

And it’s just beginning

Three days after the election, Obama’s EPA moves to close more federal land to oil shale production. It’s been reported, but not by the mainstream press, that the EPA has stockpiled literally thousands of new regulations in anticipation of Obama’s victory. Those regulations are ready to be unleashed on industry and here they come. I don’t mind voters getting what they deserve but it seems almost unfair to make the entire country suffer when only half voted to do so.

But that’s called sharing the pain, I suppose.


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Neighbor to neighbor?


A builder’s dream

94 Doubling Road is reported as selling for $7.650 million after just two days on the market. I must have missed it or it was never really on at all. Interesting price, because it sold for $6.745 million in 2004 and the listing makes no mention of any improvements done to it since then. If not, then this is a very odd phenomenon – prices have not even recovered to 2004 levels, let alone surpassed them. Mystery.


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As long as you’re Grant, get me a 7-Up


Old joke. But anyway, 5 Grant Avenue, Old Greenwich has just been listed for $1.995 million. Old (1924) house, completely renovated with new heating and a/c mechanicals, kitchen, baths and so forth. Detached garage, but what do you expect for under $2 million? $854 per square foot if you take its full asking price and divide it by the 2,300 sq. feet listed (I do hope that figure doesn’t include the garage). I suppose that if you figure $1 million for the land, $427 per sq. foot for the actual building is reasonable.

I suppose. Old Greenwich makes the back country look cheap.

Update: Geeze, who knew? This old George Price cartoon is available on Google Images.


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Bring back the back country?

Huge house on the prairie

There are currently 28 houses built since 1995 (40, 1980 and later) on four – to- ten acres, priced at $4.795 and up. Almost all of those are north of the Merritt in the back country and almost all are on what I’d call marginal and their broker might call less-than-optimal land. These are the product of the break up the estates that once comprised our back country and at least to my eye, aren’t an improvement on what was there.

Fudrucker and I were discussing the fate of these homes and Frankie posited, and I agreed, that the market for a huge house on four acres of so-so land located at the extreme edges of Greenwich is limited now and will probably decline from here. If we’re right, then who will want these things? Maybe, we thought, some super-rich types who’d buy them up on the cheap and reassemble the original estates. After all, four acres of rocks and swamp aren’t much use standing alone, but if that acreage is part of a 100-acre estate, they could add to the privacy of the main house.

An experienced realtor I know predicted almost twenty years ago that the mega-mansions sprouting like deformed mushrooms in the back country would be white elephants in the future. The builders paid no heed because buyers kept snapping them up, but I thought that realtor was right back then and nothing that’s occurred since 2007 makes me think he’s wrong now. Lifestyles are changing, and the idea of a forty-minute cruise to deliver a child to her travel team lacrosse game has lost its appeal; I don’t know why it ever held any appeal in the first place, but that’s another matter. Will that desire to live in the hinterlands return? Not so you could tell from my clients, who typically specify that they won’t consider living north of the Merritt, and not so you could tell from sales up there, which are languishing.

Younger friends of mine tell me stories about their parents who built huge palaces up on our northern border and now that their children have grown and left the nest, are rattling around in 10,000 square feet of builder’s bad taste,  wishing they could move. But they can’t – they aren’t even putting their houses on the market, because there is no market – not for these.

All of which is a gross generalization, of course, but that’s how I see it from down here. If I’m right, it will be interesting to see what happens. I’m rooting for my scenario, the one that puts the large estates back and the MacMansions scraped off the face of the earth. That may not happen, but what else will people do with these unwanted homes?

I suppose that as the town’s population ages we’ll see a demand for more nursing homes. And there’s always the idea of elder hostels floating around. Or, assuming Malloy stays in power, Section 8 housing crammed past our zoning laws – now that would be amusing. Stay tuned.


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Price cuts

3 Cherry Blossom Lane

3 Cherry Blossom Lane, way up on the Bedford border, is as of today asking $4.795 million. The builder wanted $7.995  in 2008, but want and get are different things. An old Antares leftover, I believe.

25 Woodside Dr

And in Milbrook, 25 Woodside Drive is now $2.9 million. It too started high, back in 2007, when it was priced at $4.995. I don’t know the right price for this property but a $2 million reduction must surely have brought it closer to whatever that number is.


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Solving the mortgage mess, one house at a time



Come and get it!

20 Livingstone Livington Place, over in Chickahominy, I believe (west of Greenwich Avenue it’s all Chinatown, Jake), sold for $700,000 in 2002, was foreclosed on last month by Bank of America and immediately relisted for $319,000. Reports a sale contract after just seven days.

UPDATE: A reader steered me to the listing, and here’s my question: who loaned $700,000 on this in 2002 and why aren’t they in jail?


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Great moments in pricing history aren’t limited to Greenwich


View from on high

Here’s a Ridgefield listing that demonstrates the same illogic that some realtors and sellers in our own town employ. Eighty-eight acres, beautiful views and a 1939 mansion that probably needs work – at least, the listing makes no mention of improvements since its bricks were piled up back there in the Depression. So far so good; this much land with views must be worth something, I guess, even in Ridgefield, but the price history reminds me of some of the bone-headed juggling that goes on here.

It started at $18 million 13 months go and eventually dropped to $11.5 this past July, where it lingered. Yesterday its price was increased to $12.5 and that raises two questions: if the house wouldn’t sell at one price for five months, why would it sell now for a higher price? And why, or more importantly who, would pay an owner $1 million more than he was willing to accept before? The mind boggles.

By the way, $10 million or so for 88 acres strikes me as a pretty good deal. Ridgefield’s a nice town and until the Greenwich back country estates are reassembled ( a topic I’m going to write about soon), pretty much unobtainable here, with the exception of Mel Gibson’s old place, at three times the price.


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