Daily Archives: October 11, 2013

I’ll bet they don’t get it

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 8.37.05 PMThe WSJ profiles a New Canaan house as “house of the day”: 5,200 sq. ft. , eight acres (six of which are in Pound Ridge), built in 1997 and purchased by these owners in 2003 for $2.8 million. A lot has happened to the New Canaan market since that purchase date, most notably the collapse of Bear Stearns, because for some reason lots of the Bear Stearns people moved to New Canaan and bought maxi-pads. Now they’re out of work and their homes are a glut on the market. And New Canaan has not moved any closer to civilization in that time.

I don’t wish the owners, a trader named Ivano Panetti and his wife Cizia, ill, I just don’t think they’re going to achieve what they want. They listed this in June, 2012 for $3.785 million and after no buyers appeared the Panettis blamed their broker, fired her and replaced her with another, while leaving their price essentially intact. Refusing to listen to the market is not a smart tactic. In fact, I often wonder how successful Wall Street traders can so easily slide into the denial afflicting so many of us lesser mortals when it comes to valuing their own homes?

(As an aside, the broker’s idea to plug this property as having enough land in New York to permit a “small” helicopter to land is, while an encouraging sign of initiative, totally stupid. The market for helicopter-owning home buyers looking to live in New Canaan has got to be somewhere between zero and non-existent. No one will care. On the other hand, the gambit did seem to catch the eye of this WSJ reporter and if the free publicity she received is the result, good for her.)

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House caves, capitulates entirely

Obama wins, country loses.  The Republican establishment is hopeless, both on a local and national level.

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A mishmash of end-of-week activity

Three here:

6 North Ridge

6 North Ridge

6 North Ridge, Havemeyer, asked $895,000, sold for $836,000, if you’re keeping track of land sales up there.

Our Lady of the Highway, circa 2013

Our Lady of the Highway, circa 2013

And that foreclosure property up under the Merritt Parkway at 329 Riversville Road has an accepted offer. Asking price was $2.691, the owners bought it at auction for $1.489,952 (mortgage was originally $2.6 held by now-defunct Indy Bank) in 2012 and completed it. An out of town buyer, or is that redundant?

751 Lake Avenue

751 Lake Avenue

Two of the three spec houses in a row up at 751 Lake Avenue have been “cancelled”, although I don’t know what that means. Certainly, they’re almost done, so perhaps they’ve found buyers already. These have come out beautifully, by the way, much to my surprise, because when they were all three going up on an empty, dusty lot they looked pretty god-awful. Now that their facades have been completed and landscaping installed they look great. I continue to be astonished that they are apparently going for $9 million, however.

45 Meadow Wood Drive

45 Meadow Wood Drive

And speaking of cancellations, 45 Meadow Wood Drive, that unsold 2007 spec house on I-95 had its listing with one broker cancelled and immediately picked up by another. The place was finished in 2007 but couldn’t sell at $17.9 – $14.9 between then and 2009, when it was rented out for $24,000 (sounds like a lot, but with an $8 million mortgage, perhaps not such a good deal for the builder). It came back on early this year at that same $14.9, with the results as discussed. Okay water views, a design that will appeal to a limited group of buyers and, of course, I-95 behind and above it. I predicted years ago that a bulldozer would see the interior before a buyer did but so far, that’s proved either premature or overly pessimistic; there’s still time to be proved right.

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Busted

 

424 Stanwich Rd

424 Stanwich Rd

424 Stanwich Road, $1.395 million, reported an accepted offer last week but is back on the market today. It’s just about on the Merritt (one house away), but 2.1 acres for this price doesn’t sound unreasonable. Comes with a house, too.

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(Recent) price cut

27 Juniper Lane

27 Juniper Lane

I just noticed this listing for 27 Juniper Lane in Riverside, new price $825,000. The tracks are across the street (some distance away) but it’s not particularly noisy, and it’s hard to find a livable house in this section of Riverside for this price. You may want to check it out.

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2013 FEMA Zones, Old Greenwich

Courtesy of Mickster – check this link for the entire map, plus the 2010 map, so you can appreciate how your government has expanded its grasp. There’s not too much change from before, but you can look up your street and see what’s what.

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 12.58.02 PM

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More on FEMA zones

Lucas Point

Lucas Point, 2015

Long conversation with architect and Riverside native Ed Davis (203-637-2748) just now on the FEMA regs. Here’s (some of – call Ed directly for more) the deal – errors are mine, not Ed’s, as is any animus expressed towards Diane Fox here.

AE Zones: house must be, per federal guidelines, and dependent on which of the AE zones the property’s located,  13, 14, 15′ above the baseline elevation (my term – not certain of the exact term used by FEMA), plus an extra foot.

That 14′ in the AE-13 one, for instance, is measured from the finished floor level if, and only if, there are no mechanicals below that floor. If you have electrical wires -one foot in conduits, and duct work – another foot, you will end up 16′ in the air before stepping foot in your house.

Nothing can impede flood waters below that space, so solid walls are out. If you have a crawl space, with flow-through ports, more than 5′ high, the space between the ground and that floor 16 feet above it count as the first story. This is true for crawl spaces in all sections of town, but is particularly troublesome down in the VE zone where, presumably, you’d want some height to shield things from the water or if, say, you have to raise your house six feet (because it’s already 8′ above the baseline) and want a semi-closed foundation below the main house instead of lattice work or plain air. Can’t do it and still have a 2 1/2 story house without appealing for a varience.

Worse, and rather puzzling, Diane Fox has decreed that any such 5′ crawlspace will count against your FAR – this is unlivable space, but under the Fox regime, it still counts against you.

Cost of elevating your house. Ed tells me that he’s received 11 bids for four different projects and they’ve come in between $220,000 – $260,000, with one project costing over $300,000. Work involved includes disconnecting, moving and reconnecting utilities, raising furnace, raising the house itself of course, stairways to get you and your groceries up those 16 feet, etc.

The town of Greenwich can apply to FEMA for funds to pay 75% of such costs for individual owners, but the deadline for filing with the town is October 23rd, so if you haven’t filed already, you’re almost certainly out of luck. You can try calling First Selectman Assistant Michael Rosen at Town Hall for soothing words – he’s coordinating all this – but you need an approved preliminary application from the state before you can apply to the town (which in turn, applies to the federal government on your behalf), and the chances of getting anything from the state between now and October 23rd are nil.

To apply to the state, you must submit photos, a current elevation certificate, copy of the tax card and a complete record of all past flood losses. To apply with the town you need that state approval, plus one bid from a house raiser and three bids from contractors who will do the work before and after the house is raised. Assuming you can accomplish all that in 12 days, you can expect to begin construction next spring or summer.

In short, if you haven’t done all this already, you’re on the hook for the full cost of repairs. And if you’re negotiating to buy a house in the VE zone now, and the owners have not already applied, be sure to add $250,000 – $300,000 to your estimate of costs, the disruption of construction, and the end result of a house stuck 16′ in the air.

Then perhaps consider finding another house.

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Say, did you hear the one about the boy who murdered his parents, then threw himself on the mercy of the court because he was an orphan?

Here in Greenwich, many voters won’t get it. Readers are complaining that “we have no choice” when it comes to replacing New Lebanon School, and they’re right:we have no choice, we cannot build it, because we made our choice, last May. We chose not to maintain our school buildings and to use the money instead for helping students round out their college application resumes by tooting on tubas and prancing in leotards.

If the town really wanted to help a large number of our students we should look across the border to Stamford where Dan Malloy – Malloy! Just reopened Wright Technical School, using $75 million to completely rebuild it.  That’s a smarter use of education funds than anything we’ve done in Greenwich, where we disbanded our voc-ed program years ago in favor of  a curriculum geared exclusively towards college-bound students, notwithstanding many of our children are not college material and many who are, shouldn’t bother.

How about our own vocational ed program, one that could feed into Wright so we don’t duplicate services? One that exposed its students to accounting and other business skills in addition to technical skills so that they could go into business down the road for themselves? Owning a plumbing business is a far more lucrative goal than obtaining a degree in psychology or victimhood studies.

The rest of the state has an image of Greenwich as a community comprised exclusively of multimillionaire hedge funders and taxes us accordingly; our BOE and many parents share that misconception: they’re delusional.

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Sounds like Greenwich writ large

 

And tomorrow we'll serve this again up at Nathaniel Wither All!

And tomorrow we’ll serve this again up at Nathaniel Wither All!

British politicians express shock,outrage over higher home energy bills after new “green” taxes raise costs. The pols blame “greedy” corporations.

Let’s send Dollar Bill and our own three selectmen over there to explain how, contrary to old fashioned thinking, one can too have your cake and eat it too.

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