Daily Archives: January 14, 2014

Old Greenwich sale

48 Highview Avenue, $2.125 million. That’s not the $2.495 it asked, but the sellers paid just $1.685 for it in 2009 and made no renovations worth mentioning in its listing, so they made out ok.

538 Round Hill Road sold, $4.8 million on a $5.2  ask. Not bad. Owners bought it for $3.750 in 2005 but completely renovated it and added on – my guess is they broke even, at best, but that’s still an improvement over what they could have expected in 2010.

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Well I’m disappointed

3_1_neanderthal_shirt-rb669821ffade451787644b7e1332c482_804gs_324The results from 23andMe are in, and I’m only 3.1% Neanderthal, just a smidgen over the average 2.7%. Heavy brow, bow-legged, shuffling gait, I figured I was a shoo-in for top place; 97 percentile just doesn’t cut it. Darn.


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Sale in OG

12 Shore Road, new construction on tidal waters near SAC headquarters, sold for just $2.5 million after originally asking $3.5. I wasn’t blown away by this house back in 2011 when it first hit the market, but even then I didn’t think it was priced a full million too high. I wonder whether this is an example of post-Sandy pricing for waterfront or just a typical result of overpricing? Regardless, I think the buyer did well here, especially if he insisted on a rubber raft and some Swmmies being tossed into the deal.

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Greenwich Time “reports” on real estate news

This home at 12 Baldwin Farms South sold for $5.1 million last week, making it the top sale in town.

“This home at 12 Baldwin Farms South sold for $5.1 million last week, making it the top sale in town.”

12 Baldwin Farms South sells for $5.1 million, “97% of its final asking price”. 

FWIW provided a more objective view – or at least, a view not calculated to be inoffensive to major real estate advertisers, back on November 6, when it was first reported under contract. In addition to describing the house more accurately that GT does*, we gave the original starting price: $12.495, rather than use the “final”. It’s more fun that way, and more informative.


*Sample: There wasn’t much to like about this house – certainly not at $12.5 or even $7.5 million, from its entrance via a stone causeway over the swamp that comprises its front yard, to the skimpy patch of yard in the rear (ignore the trick photography, it’s a handkerchief-sized back lawn), to the weird, sort-of-French-manor, formal  exterior, to the informal country kitchen look inside. I suspect a committee of architects deigned this place, with interference “input” from the developer. Whoever was responsible for the final result, they doomed it from ever achieving anything more than a fire-sale price.

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Oh darling, it happens! But thank Zeus, we have Medicare

Oh darling, it happens! But thank Zeus, we have Medicare

Medicare paying twice the amount for erection pumps as is charged on the private market.

The amount Medicare has been paying for the devices — known as vacuum erection systems (VES), which assist men suffering from impotence — has increased in the six years investigators studied, from $20.6 million in 2006 to $38.6 million in 2011.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has done little to correct the problem since 1999, the IG said, when investigators first pointed out the excessive spending. The agency has the power to determine that the prices are excessive and refuse to pay a certain amount through a “special payment limit,” but investigators said “CMS has not used that authority to adjust pricing for VES” in the past 15 years.

In a response to the report, CMS said they were looking into why costs were so high, and were taking steps to reduce waste.

A spokesperson for CMS said the agency does not have the authority to competitively bid contracts for the equipment, something that could drive the price down.

While Medicare strives to pay appropriately for items and services … CMS does not currently have the authority to subject this equipment to competitive bidding,” a statement from the spokesperson said.

The agency would need congressional approval, the spokesperson said, adding that competitive bidding across Medicare could save taxpayers billions of dollars over the next decade.

Investigators found that another agency — the Veterans Affairs Department — has been paying fair prices and is not wasting money. A comparison between the two showed the VA was paying an average of $185 for each VES, while CMS was paying nearly double that amount: $360.

So: they’ve known that they were being overcharged since 1999 and have done nothing about it because “Congressional approval would be required.” What Congressman protected a constituent by banning competitive bidding in medical (quasi-medical?) equipment, and how many items besides penis pumps are also shielded from competition?

This needs to be probed.



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Board of Ed caves, will submit racial plan to state discrimination czar


Herr Peter von Braun relaxes at home

Herr Peter von Braun relaxes at home

This was the likely outcome all along, but it’s disappointing all the same.

“I think it would be foolish of us not to submit a plan,” board member Peter von Braun said at the board’s Jan. 9 meeting. “We have a great deal of latitude as to what the content of that plan can be. To stick a finger in the state’s eye is just silliness.”

You call it silliness, Mr. Braun, others might call it principled.


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P&Z is dodging and shucking

Shorelands residents flee the wrath of Diane

Shorelands residents flee the wrath of Diane

The P&Z has two new proposals to punish homeowners and while both were originally scheduled to be discussed tonight, one of them has been shunted off to another, unspecified date, in what I suspect is a strategy of divide and conquer: force the citizens, most of whom have real jobs, unlike our P&Z meddlers, to come out twice, rather than once. Too much discord, too much heat for the staff to deal with in one evening.

The first rule change, the one that will still be “discussed” (in P&Z talk, that means “you squawk, we’ll ram it through anyway”) is the demand that homeowners pay for the town to hire consultants to represent the P&Z in combating the homeowner’s project. That’s a fun one, but there’s another, far more (well just as, anyway) egregious, and that’s to cut in half the allowable dollar amount that can be spent to repair a flood damaged home before being required to raze the structure or stick it up on stilts 20′ in the air. That one is no longer on tonight’s agenda.

There is another, somewhat related proposal currently before the zoning board that will not be discussed Tuesday night. This one could have a serious impact on the “substantial damage” clause. According to Planning and Zoning documents, in addition to homes that reach the 50 percent threshold, the new proposal would require homes that suffer two instances of flood-related damage costing 25 percent or more of the structure’s original value within a decade to be brought into FEMA compliance.

Detractors say it’s unfair to Old Greenwich homeowners; Planning and Zoning officials say more compliant homes make the community safer during extreme weather events.

That change will be discussed at a later date.

As an aside, I see that P&Z staffer and daughter of BET member John Blankley (and how did that happen?) Katie Blankley-DeLuca is still using the same tactic her boss Diana Fox does, misstating the scope of these rules. “If you have a million dollar home”, says Ms. Blankley, “you can still make renovations or improvements up to $500,000.” The restriction on spending is calculated on the value of the structure, not the land. There are many, many homes in Old Greenwich that are “worth” more than $1 million, so $500,000 must sound reassuring, but the value of most of those properties is in the land, not the 1950’s house sitting atop of it. Blankely knows this, knows that what she and her staff are proposing will limit, say, a $300,000 house to maybe a new kitchen and perhaps an updated bath, but she continues to use the $1 million figure. So does Diane Fox. I called her on it back at the last FEMA “discussion”, Fox acknowledged her error that night yet persists in using the million dollar example anyway. Duplicitous and deceitful? Our P&Z staff, our employees? Perish the thought.


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