Daily Archives: February 7, 2013

The blight spreads down under

 

Say goodnight to the Jolly Swagman

Say goodnight to the Jolly Swagman

Australia Health Ministry bans blowing out birthday candles by children. Might spread cooties to a wallaby, I suppose. Hey, medical care is funded by the government down  there and if they want to dictate behavior they can and they will. Fortunately that can’t happen here in the land of the free.

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And the market resumes

Five reported accepted offers today for single family homes and a bunch of condos, rentals and a multifamily, none of which I follow unless I have a client interested in them.

Finding buyers were these houses.

25 Perna

25 Perna

25 Perna, Riverside NoPo, $585,000 (all prices are asking, not necessarily selling)

16 Hearthstone, Riverside, $1.7 million

5 North Ridge, Havemeyer next to the Big Dig, $829,000

76 Valleywood

76 Valleywood

76 Valleywood, $1.495

366 Stanwich, $2.095.

76 Valleywood is no surprise – while I thought I might have priced it at $1.395 I was obviously wrong. I like this street and the house is a charmer.

366 Stanwich’s sale, if it happens, will close a loong saga. The seller bought it for $2.738 million in 2006, which may have seemed like a bargain because it had been priced at $3.4 in 2004 and then sat, but when they tried to resell it for $2.999 back in 2009 they met the same buyer resistance. Now, four years and a slew of price cuts later, it seems they’ll be getting out from under. Hmm.

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Riverside again

 

16 Hearthstone "Drive"

16 Hearthstone “Drive”

16 Hearthstone, $1.7 million (!) has an accepted offer after just 17 days, which usually indicates that someone’s paying close to full price. I suppose this makes sense for a family who wants into Riverside for under $2 and plans to pretty much leave the house as is (although when a listing says, “expand, renovate or start anew” it’s a strong hint that the house has exhausted its shelf life) or they plan to replace it with a $1.5 million structure and be all in at $3.2.

I hope though, that a builder’s buying it because he’ll lose his shirt, and two years from now the foreclosing bank will be interested in some serious discussions about price.

Or that’s my take on the Riverside boom, anyway, especially Hearthstone, where there are five or six new homes being built that will have to fetch at least $3.4 million apiece to justify the $1.4 third-of-an-acre lots they sit on. If all goes well the street will be transformed into a wealthy enclave of mini-pads and everyone will be happy. My skepticism about that scenario, however, stems from the history of the Hearthstone speed bumps.

Hearthstone’s a short stretch of road connecting Lockwood to Hendrie and as such serves as the main conduit to Riverside School and I-95. For decades, the residents installed speed bumps to slow the steady flow of traffic whizzing by their homes and for decades the town made them remove them because Hearthstone’s a public, not private street and no one may impede traffic on it. The bumps were finally permanently removed, but the traffic that inspired them remains. In fact, it’s probably doubled since battle was first joined. If potential buyers for those $3.4 million homes decide that a Concours d’Escalade is a bit much to bear all day, every day, and look elsewhere, bummer.

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And we’re back

Two good ones, I thought, 115 Dingletown and 32 Copper Beech, but neither is a house for the typical family of mom, dad, three children and a cute French au pair.

115 Dingletown Rd

115 Dingletown Rd

115 Dingletown, a contemporary priced at $2.195 million, is pretty neat, and perfect for, say, a down-sizing couple or brave young investment bankers just starting on their career and with a tiny budget with which to buy shelter. It’s quirky, and has those spiral staircases invented by architects to torture human beings and demonstrate a firm grasp of the modern school’s disassociation of form and function, but it’s also open and light. The master bedroom suite opens to the terraced pool pictured here and even on a grey day like today, with bare trees and patches of old snow (I have no idea how listing agent Janet Milligan Photoshopped in the greenery in the pictures, but she’s a genius in so many areas, why not digital imagery?) it felt like the perfect place to wake up to in the morning. Very nice – I’d move in tomorrow.

32 Copper Beech

32 Copper Beech

32 Copper Beech, $2.6 million, is a complete mindblower, and I used the exterior shot to demonstrate, once you click on the interior shots, how you can completely transform a nondescript, unprepossessing 1965 house into something spectacularly new. MOMA in the suburbs, or something like that. Again, though, it’s a bit of a rabbit warren and lacks the standard playroom spaces that a barrel full of children and a rainy day demand, but someone who doesn’t need that will find a great house on an excellent street, close to town. This one was the talk of the broker circuit today – everyone who saw it loved it although I wasn’t alone in wondering who it might fit among their clients. If this house were in Westport, where buyers don’t seem so insistent upon traditional, it would sell in a heartbeat. As it is, I think it will still sell quickly – certainly the price is reasonable – but only to a certain buyer. Conventional it is not. But if you’re having difficulty envisioning what you can do with an older home, go see this one. At the very least, it will open your eyes to possibilities you might otherwise not consider.

Only because I’m a kind soul do I refrain from identifying a third new listing on today’s tour, but I’ll describe it as a plain old builder’s special, down a very long driveway on a street that doesn’t command much above the low $2s. There’s nothing wrong with the house – it looks quite comfortable, and clearly the sellers have put money into it, but being pretty active showing houses in a broad spectrum of prices these days I thought it looked acceptable for something priced in the street’s low $2s range. But when I rechecked its price I discovered that it’s been priced a million more than what reality dictates. Really?

I understand sellers’ desire to recover what they’ve put into a house and perhaps net a modest profit, but what possesses agents to go along with such an impossible dream? Money will be spent on futile advertising, time will be wasted showing the house to non-buyers and a year or so from now the owners will fire the agent and hire a new one because it’s all the fault of that poor first agent for “failing to market it properly”. Again, the sellers I understand, Why an experienced agent accepts such a challenge baffles me.

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It’s open house Thursday!

A modest collection of new listings (including a small bungalow on Sound Beach Avenue next to the highway that I think I’ll pass by) and I’ve targeted nine that may justify spending the gas to visit – as a devoted follower of Al Gore, I am acutely conscious of my carbon footprint, so I’m selective these days. Of those nine, at least two are wildly overpriced and ordinarily I’d skip them and wait a year until their owners got serious but they’re on the way to some of the others and what the heck, if I see them now I can spend the next year saving my clients’ time by warning them off them. It’s all about efficiency in this business.

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If I thought they’d kept silent to protect our country, I’d be impressed

Moi?

Moi?

New York Times, Washington Post, knew about secret drone base in Saudi Arabia a year ago but spiked the story at the request of the White House. How many secrets did these two papers disclose during the Bush administration despite pleas from the White House and even the Pentagon, which said, accurately, that disclosure would cost American lives? So their claim that they sat on this story out of deference to national security concerns is risible. Enemies of the people.

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When your neighbor’s tree falls on your house, does anybody hear?

Rep. Jimbo Himes (D., CT) drops tree on neighbor's home

Rep. Jimbo Himes (D., CT) drops tree on neighbor’s home

In view of at least the threat of tomorrow’s anticipated snowstorm and accompanying high winds, this little article will explain the law. Who pays? In short, and the bad news I had to pass on to disappointed clients many times back in my days of ambulance chasing is, you do.

The exception: if the tree in question was known by your neighbor to be in danger of falling. Notice, followed by inaction, shifts the liability. So it goes.

You want a second opinion? Ask Attorney Barbara Clay.

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Crime wave on King Street and illegal aliens blamed

Ct. State Rep. Marty Looney embarks on smuggler hunt, King Streert

“Let’s get those wetbacks!” Rep. Jimbo Himes (D. CT) embarks on smuggler hunt, King Street (photo credit: B. Simonds)

There’s an ongoing rash of residential burglaries on King Street, which is nothing new: they have experienced this before.

Michael Tedesco, president of the King Street Area Homeowner’s Association, an umbrella organization for homeowner groups on both sides of the state line, said residents are concerned about crime but confident police will put a stop to the activity.

“Our guys do a fabulous job,” he said. “They usually pick up the trail very quickly.”

Tedesco said police keep him and his association informed of break-ins in the area, though he hasn’t heard of any in the past week or so.

And in another story in Greenwich Time King Street residents are reporting  increased sightings of coyotes, the politically correct term for smugglers of folks from down Mexico way. Cause and effect? We report, you decide.

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Paging Paul Krugman

Home from hospital

Home from hospital

Krugman staunchly defends the British Health System and dismisses any and all reports that the NHS is killing patients or providing less than optimal care. There’s a nice round up of the current state of that system in today’s Daily Mail, starting with this one, the politicization of the NHS. Oh, but ObamKare will be different, because our politicians running our hospitals will be Democrats!

I spent 10 months investigating NHS management for a think-tank report, visiting hospitals and talking to staff and patients. The failings that turn hospitals into killing fields were there for anyone to see. I fear they still are.

Because despite its excellent analysis and 290 recommendations, the Francis report does not confront the central problem: the politicisation of the NHS.

Under Labour our health service,  with its top-down, target-driven culture, became a PR machine for the government at the expense of patients’ lives. It became a bureaucratic behemoth whose hospital managers worried far more about pleasing their Westminster masters than about the sick and vulnerable in their care.

Now it is going through yet another political upheaval under the Coalition, as control over budgets is handed directly to panels of GPs. But the central problem remains the same: the NHS is still a monolithic state industry, too often impervious to the public it is meant to serve.

During my investigation, NHS chief executives and middle managers regularly complained to me that the majority of their time was spent not on their hospital and patients but on NHS central bureaucracy and responding to its sometimes hourly demands. As one chief executive said sadly to me: ‘Above all, I realise what my job is really about is politics.’

In Connecticut, Gov. Malloy’s new budget will slash financial support to hospitals, reasoning that ObamaKare will make up the difference.

Rosenberg said the rationale about a drop in uncompensated care due to federal reforms doesn’t entirely hold water, as hospitals will still, in many cases, be reimbursed for less than the cost of their services.

If something can’t continue, it won’t, and kudos to the Governor for recognizing this hard fact. But for those who cheered the arrival of ObamaKare as the solution to our health care system’s financial woes I can only refer you to that old definition of Irish foreplay: “brace yourself, Bridget”.

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