Daily Archives: November 26, 2013

At a reader’s request …

57 Byram ShoreI present for your consideration 57 Byram Shore Road, which sold yesterday for $1.870 million after starting off eight years ago at $5.775. I did write about this house a couple of times over the years: it’s a nice old home, but the land leading to the water was sold off years ago, leaving a house on a half acre on Byram Shore Rd. I’m surprised it got as much as it did but not at all surprised that it couldn’t fetch $5.775 million. Don’t know whether that initial price was set by the owner of the house or her realtor daughter, but it was an unwise combination.


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This is pointed out every year, but still the lemmings swarm




“Black Friday Sales” are anything but.


When shoppers head out in search of Black Friday bargains this week, they won’t just be going to the mall, they’ll be witnessing retail theater.

Stores will be pulling out the stops on deep discounts aimed at drawing customers into stores. But retail-industry veterans acknowledge that, in many cases, those bargains will be a carefully engineered illusion.

The common assumption is that retailers stock up on goods and then mark down the ones that don’t sell, taking a hit to their profits. But that isn’t typically how it plays out. Instead, big retailers work backward with their suppliers to set starting prices that, after all the markdowns, will yield the profit margins they want.

The red cardigan sweater with the ruffled neck on sale for more than 40% off at $39.99 was never meant to sell at its $68 starting price. It was designed with the discount built in.

Here’s how it works, according to one industry consultant describing an actual sweater sold at a major retailer. A supplier sells the sweater to a retailer for roughly $14.50. The suggested retail price is $50, which gives the retailer a roughly 70% markup. A few sweaters sell at that price, but more sell at the first markdown of $44.99, and the bulk sell at the final discount price of $21.99. That produces an average unit retail price of $28 and gives the store about a 45% gross margin on the product.

I won’t go into a mall ever, so my disdain for a manufactured special sales day is tempered by a very much removed disinterest, but geeze: do people really enjoy this? I suppose they do, or they wouldn’t do it, and as someone who thinks sitting on a frigid deer stand twenty-feet up a tree on a December morning is fun, who am I to judge?


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And the sales keep coming

Three more contracts reported.

49 Indian Mill

49 Indian Mill

49 Indian Mill Road, asking $1.295, is rumored to be going for close to full price. I had initially appraised this as a teardown, but a builder brought in by my client came up with an excellent plan to completely redo the existing structure for not a whole lot of money. My own client decided to pass, someone else didn’t. A 2-acre lot abutting the Mianus Preserve, so if you’re into outdoor activities, great location.


236 Bedford Rd

236 Bedford Rd

236 Bedford Road, 1758 home asking $1.595, also has a contract. I wrote about this when it came on a month or so ago. You have to love antique houses – I do, but it’s a wonderful one. Owners paid $1.625 for it in 2008 and put a lot of money into renovating it. It’s far to our north, but for some folks, that’s a plus. Besides, a tiny portion of its property extends across the New York border and as the Mickster educated us on another house a few doors up, that allows the owners’ kids to attend the very well respected school across the border, free.

67 Sound Beach Ave

67 Sound Beach Ave

67 Sound Beach Avenue, listed as land and asking $1.250, has a buyer. 0.32 acres.


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You can blame Bush

Tastes like chicken

Tastes like chicken!

First official pardon of a Thanksgiving turkey was granted by George H.W. Bush.

Truman and Eisenhower ate theirs.


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Well who better to tell about bullying?

Yarrow_Peter-March271970Peter Yarrow will perform at Greenwich Library to raise awareness of bullied children.

This from a man who gave new meaning to “Blowing in the Wind” when he was convicted and imprisoned for molesting a 14-year-old girl.

Peter Yarrow pleaded guilty to taking “immoral and improper liberties” with a 14-year-old girl back on Aug.31, 1969 at the Shoreham Hotel in New York City.  At the time Yarrow was 31-years old.  Since the sexual assault, Peter Yarrow acknowledged the incident as “the most terrible mistake I have ever made.”
As reported at the time, the 14-year-old girl and her 17-year-old sister went to Yarrow’s hotel room seeking an autograph. “Yarrow answered the door naked and made sexual advances that stopped short of intercourse”. The 14-year-old resisted his advances but according to reports, did not call for help. Yarrow served three months of a one-to three-year prison sentence. In 1981 the singer received a Presidential pardoned fromJimmy Carter.  At the time of his pardon, Peter Yarrow was married to the niece of Democratic Senator Eugene J. McCarthy, which is believed how he received the pardon.
If Yarrow would have sexually assaulted this young teen today and he did not have his political connections, his name would be appearing on the National Sex Offender’s Registry.


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Of course it’s pure idiocy, but when has that ever stopped a law from being enacted?

Coffee, cigarette checkpoint

Coffee, cigarette checkpoint

New Jersey pol introduces bill to ban cigarette smoking while driving. No mention of drinking coffee, adjusting your radio or picking your nose, but all those are surely next.

If legislators in New Jersey get their way, smoking behind the wheel of a car may soon become illegal.  New Jersey State Assemblyman John McKeon sat with ‘Situation’ host Tucker Carlson to discuss the bill, which he is sponsoring.

The bill came in response to an AAA study which found that among 32,000 car accidents from 1995 to 1999, one percent were linked to smoking.

TUCKER CARLSON, ‘SITUATION’ HOST: Now, why in the world should I not be able to smoke—not that I do, I quit but let’s say I did — in my own car?

JOHN MCKEON, NEW JERSEY STATE ASSEMBLYMAN McKeon: Well, you can smoke in your own car.  You can’t operate the car while you’re smoking, because then it impacts upon the safety of the drivers around you.

CARLSON: The study that you cite is from 1999.  I think there’s some reason to believe it’s outdated.  who knows how accurate it is?

But let’s just go by the this — the survey that you site.  Smoking, according to this, accounted for 0.9 percent of all accidents.  Adjusting climate controls accounted for three times more accidents, adjusting radio cassette many times more.  That was 11.5 percent.  Outside objects accounted for almost 30 percent.

CARLSON:  I just want to ask you one final question.  I want to get you concede that what is this really about is the fact you don’t like smoking.

A lot of people don’t like smoking.  I’m not saying people ought to like smoking.  But this is taking a minority group in America, a group of people who is very unpopular, by virtue of what they do, and piling on, pounding them, extracting more money from them, regulating them, because you can, because no one likes cigarette smokers.  That’s really what is happening.

MCKEON:  Yes, well, if you ask me what my opinion is about smoking and relative to its health effects, and…

CARLSON:  Right.  I’m sure you’re against smoking.

MCKEON:  I’m against it without question.  But this has really nothing to do with being anti-smoking.  This just has to be, to me, a sensible way to make people drive vehicles in a more sense way.


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Institutional housing purchases plummet


Psst! Wanna make a deal?

Psst! Wanna make a deal?

ZeroHedge: RealtyTrac numbers show investors pulling back from housing market.

It’s mixed news, actually:

ZeroHedge: “Concluding the trifecta of today’s housing data, we present perhaps the most authoritative report on what is actually going on in the market, that by RealtyTrac. What RealtyTrac has to say is in direct contradiction with both the Permits and Case-Shiller data, both of which are now openly reliant on yield-starved institutional investors dumping cash into current or future rental properties. In fact it’s worse, because if RealtyTrac is accurate, the great institutional scramble for any housing is now over – to wit: “Cash Sales Pull Back From Previous Month, Still Represent 44 Percent of Total Sales Institutional Investor Purchases Plummet Nationwide…  Institutional investor purchases represented 6.8 percent of all sales in October, a sharp drop from a revised 12.1 percent in September and down from 9.7 percent a year ago. Markets with the highest percentage of institutional investor purchases included Memphis (25.4 percent), Atlanta (23.0 percent), Jacksonville, Fla., (22.2 percent), Charlotte (14.5 percent), and Milwaukee (12.0 percent).” And plunging.

Some other observations from RT’s October 2013 Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report, which makes one thing clear – while prices may still be going up, transaction volumes have cratered:

Despite the nationwide increase, home sales continued to decrease on an annual basis for the third consecutive month in three bellwether western states: California (down 15 from a year ago), Arizona (down 13 percent), and Nevada (down 5 percent).

The national median sales price of all residential properties — including both distressed and non-distressed sales — was $170,000, unchanged from September but up 6 percent from October 2012, the 18th consecutive month median home prices have increased on an annualized basis.

The median price of a distressed residential property — in foreclosure or bank owned — was $110,000 in October, 41 percent below the median price of $185,000 for a non-distressed property.

“After a surge in short sales in late 2011 and early 2012, the favored disposition method for distressed properties is shifting back toward the more traditional foreclosure auction sales and bank-owned sales,” said Daren Blomquist,vice president at RealtyTrac. “The combination of rapidly rising home prices — along with strong demand from institutional investors and other cash buyers able to buy at the public foreclosure auction or an as-is REO home — means short sales are becoming less favorable for lenders.”


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Just in time for Thanksgiving

Believe it, kid: you've been screwed

Believe it, kid: you’ve been screwed

Hopelessness and change: Poll finds American workers suffering unprecedented anxiety about jobs, economy. 

American workers are living with unprecedented economic anxiety, four years into a recovery that has left so many of them stuck in place. That anxiety is concentrated heavily among low-income workers such as Stewart.

More than six in 10 workers in a recent Washington Post-Miller Center poll worry that they will lose their jobs to the economy, surpassing concerns in more than a dozen surveys dating to the 1970s. Nearly one in three, 32 percent, say they worry “a lot” about losing their jobs, also a record high, according to the joint survey, which explores Americans’ changing definition of success and their confidence in the country’s future. The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia specializing in public policy, presidential scholarship and political history.

Job insecurities have always been higher among low-income Americans, but they typically rose and fell across all levels of the income ladder. Today, workers at the bottom have drifted away, occupying their own island of in­security.


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The wages of sin are pretty good

Sonny Cohn (is that pronounced “Con”?), Madoff’s business partner, sells his Amagansett house for $11 million.

Cohn funneled just a $1 billion or so to Madoff, while Greenwich’s own, Walter Noel, sent over $7 billion. Each made off with hundreds of millions of dollars, neither has felt the steel bite of handcuffs, and never will.


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Should be a doozy of a mid-term election

Potomac Fever" Democrats flee from ObamaCare

Potomac Fever: Democrats flee from ObamaCare

Up to 80,000,000 will see their employer-supplied health care insurance canceled by November, 2014.

According to projections the administration itself issued back in July 2010, it was clear officials knew the impact of ObamaCare three years ago.

In fact, according to the Federal Register, its mid-range estimate was that by the end of 2014, 76 percent of small group plans would be cancelled, along with 55 percent of large employer plans.

The reason behind the losses is that current plans don’t meet the requirements of ObamaCare, which dictate that each plan must cover a list of essential benefits, whether people want them or not.

“Things like maternity care or acupuncture or extensive drug coverage,” said Veuger. “And so now the law is going to force them to buy policies that they could have gotten in the past if they wanted to but they chose not to.”

Some plans already have been canceled and employers are getting sticker shock at the new, higher prices under ObamaCare.

One of them is David Allen, president of a company bearing his name in Boulder, Colorado. He told a Congressional hearing recently that his carrier discontinued his company policy because it wasn’t compliant with ObamaCare.

“It does not meet the minimum standards as stipulated under the law. Due to this one change,” he said, “our premiums are now scheduled to increase by 52.3 percent in January 2014.”

Roy said that is not unusual. “The old plans that are being cancelled are meaningfully cheaper than the new plans that are ObamaCare compliant.”

A new wave of cancellations and sticker shock will emerge just before next year’s elections.


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Shouldn’t we let nature clean out the gene pool on this one?

Warning on almond bag for those suffering from allergies

Almond warning


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(A little) sales activity reported

A sale, a contract and an accepted offer

19 Stuart Dr

19 Stuart Dr

19 Stuart Drive, Old Greenwich NoPo, sold for $855,000.

394 Stanwich Rd

394 Stanwich Rd

394 Stanwich, built in 1944 – who knew they were building during the war? – is asking $3.950 million and is now under contract. The sellers paid $3.7 million for it in 2000, then renovated it and expanded it 1,200 sq. ft., so someone is paying no more than the 2000 market value, which sounds like a good deal.

20 Lockwood Rd

20 Lockwood Rd

And 20 Lockwood Road in Riverside, asking $1.950, has an accepted offer. This is a 1858 home that I’ve always admired, inside and out. Unlike some of the other older homes on Lockwood this one’s in fine shape so, I hope, it won’t suffer the same fate as the others.

Comments Off on (A little) sales activity reported

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Baked in a solar oven, I presume


Please Dear Lord, spare us the affliction of the tofu turkey and those who eat them

Please Dear Lord, spare us the affliction of the tofu turkey and those who eat them

Al Gore goes vegan for the holiday. “I’ll be dining at the Dollar Bill homestead in Cos Cob”, the solemn faced failed presidential candidate told FWIW, “because he’s the only one else in this world with my sense of humor, which is to say, none. We’ll be as comfortable as our hair shirts and this wicked world will allow.”


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Hunters’ boycott of Colorado fizzles

Back Country elk, Greenwich

Back Country elk, Greenwich

Despite calls for hunters to hunt elsewhere after the state’s enactment of stricter gun control laws, license sales to out-of-state hunters were up this season.

My guess is that many hunters understand that the guides and outfitters in Colorado are hardly the ones who supported those laws – look to the Denver-Boulder liberal nest for that – and punishing their friends would only reward their enemies.

And of course, there’s this:

[M] ost out-of-state licenses are issued for big game, with the money-maker being elk licenses that are available in limited supply by application only for $589 and then in unlimited amounts over the counter later in the season for $586. Applications for the limited licenses were up by 4 percent from last year, for a total of 469,000.

“If you want to go elk hunting, you are going to come here,” Eric Whirley, owner of Action Taxidermy in Gypsum, told the paper.

“You aren’t going to Michigan to go elk hunting because Colorado changed a law,” he said.

Colorado has the largest elk herd in the United States.


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There’s a lesson to be learned here


Apple iPhone, Arkansas model

Apple iPhone, Arkansas model

Would-be-murderer butt dials his intended victim while discussing plans with hit man – hilarity ensues.

A man had [his plan] for an attempted murder of a former employee foiled after accidentally pocket dialing the intended victim while he was talking about the hit.

Larry Barnett, 68, was arrested in Jonesboro, Arkansas after he ‘unknowingly made’ a phone call to his former employee.

During the phone call, which lasted an hour and a half, Barnett could be heard telling a different man how he wanted him to do whatever it took to kill the former employee.

‘I don’t care if you have to burn his house to the ground with him in it.  I don’t care what you have to do, make it look like an accident,’ Barnett was heard saying, according to Region 8 News.

Barnett, who owns the Legend Motor Company, also gave specific directions to the target’s house in the town of Paragould.

Once he realized what his former boss was plotting, the target- who has not been named- called the police.

The call was still going on when the intended target was speaking to police.

This happened in Arkansas, so probably no surprise here (Vince Foster was murdered in D.C., not Little Rock – Hillary and Bill had to go outside the state to find professional help) , but what I find fascinating is the term “butt dial” or, if you will, “pocket dial” because it’s a new term that represents a further evolution in an already-existing  term that no longer makes sense.  “Dialing” a touch tone phone came first and persists, despite the fact that we no longer use dials and now, with the advent of cellphones that fit in pockets, we have a new meaning.
I’m not sure what the correct word for this is, however. A retronym* would be “rotary phone”, but what do you call the word whose use precipitates the retronym?
* Google def: ” a new term created from an existing word in order to distinguish it from the meaning that has emerged through progress or technological development (e.g.,cloth diaper is a retronym necessitated by the fact that diaper now more commonly refers to a disposable diaper).”


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