Daily Archives: July 17, 2014

Gorgeous setting, but can you get this much for Stamford?


Well, it IS big - say that for it

Well, it IS big – say that for it

97 Deep Valley Road, Stamford, had an open house today which I couldn’t get to, but judging from its pictures, it’s on a beautiful spot overlooking North Mianus Pond. From my perspective, however, the only reason to live in Stamford is because houses are cheaper there, and this one, at $6.475 million, isn’t cheap.

Two months ago you could have had it for a mere $5.9 million, where it had landed after starting off last October at $8.5, but the first broker was fired and Tamar Lurie was brought in to raise the price and try again.

Maybe she’ll succeed, but 3.67 acres adorned with a large, unpleasant looking (to my eyes) house doesn’t hold much appeal when it’s priced at Greenwich levels. Deep Valley’s a long way from nowhere, and unless you want to stay put and enjoy those great views, it’s inconvenient.

UPDATE: The WSJ featured this in its “House of the Day” feature last May. Sadly for the agent who finagled the listing into the paper, he was fired despite his efforts shortly thereafter.


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Obama manages to squeeze in  few words about the Malaysian jet being shot down – “It’s a real tragedy” – then proceeds with canned speech with jokes and jibes at Republicans before adjoining for a burger lunch. He’ll be in NYC the rest of the evening attending fundraisers in billionaires’ mansions, but there is every reason to believe his staff will have come up with something to read to the public noticing the murder of 293 people, including 23 Americans, by first thing tomorrow.

Unless he’s golfing – then, we’ll have to wait.


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What’s a 97-year-old man smell like?

I won't be needing a larger tipi

I won’t be needing a larger tipi


With an eye toward changing demographics,Proctor & Gamble re-enters adult diaper business.

Procter & Gamble Co.  is getting back into a business it exited more than a decade ago—making products for adults suffering from incontinence—as it takes aim at the growing ranks of aging Americans.

Births peaked in the U.S. at 4.32 million in 2007 and declined for five years before leveling off recently. Some 3.96 million babies were born in the U.S. last year, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

Retiring baby boomers—Americans born between 1946 and 1964—are driving a surge in the U.S. population age 65 and older, which is expected to nearly double from 2012 levels to 83.7 million in 2050 and make up over a fifth of the country, according to the Census Bureau. Meanwhile, five years after the end of the recession, companies that sell toys, children’s clothes and infant formula are still struggling to understand why births haven’t recovered along with the economy.

The shift to an aging population is prompting companies to look for ways to retool their products and businesses to keep overall sales growing. Jarden Corp., the maker of Nuk baby products, has started researching how some of the brand’s orthodontic and feeding devices like pacifiers and spill-resistant sippy cups could be adapted for elderly people with special needs. “We’re looking to mine existing technologies to create new growth opportunities,” said Jim Lillie, CEO of Rye, N.Y.-based Jarden.

Lots of downsizers, but who will they sell their homes to? Looks like ground-floor master bedrooms, elevators and sippy cup racks in the kitchen will be our next selling features.


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And you know they ate the damn things anyway


We wanted donuts

We wanted donuts

Man orders pizzas from jail cell, charges them to the police, who then pile charges on top of the toppings.

JULY 17–Already in police custody, a Kentucky man decided it was the perfect time to prank the police officer who had arrested him for shoplifting and public intoxication, investigators allege.

Michael Harp, 29, was collared Tuesday afternoon and locked up at the police station in Corbin, a city in the state’s southeastern corner. While behind bars, Harp asked for permission to use his cell phone, a request that was granted.

Shortly after Harp made a call, a Domino’s delivery worker arrived at the precinct with five pepperoni pizzas that had been purportedly ordered by Captain Coy Wilson, the cop who had earlier arrested Harp (who is pictured above). Since Wilson was on the phone when the order arrived, patrolman Jeff Hill–unaware that a prank had been played–went ahead and paid $40 for the pizzas,according to a criminal citation.

Not amused by the pizza prank, officers launched an investigation and quickly linked the pizza order to Harp’s phone. The Kentuckian, who had originally faced only misdemeanor counts, was hit with three additional charges, including felony identity theft and impersonating a police officer counts. Harp, who denies the pizza prank, has bonded out of the Whitley County Detention Center.

The police citation does not reveal if the five pepperoni pizzas were booked into evidence or subsequently disposed of by officers on duty.

Jerks. I like this comment:

John Hoopes · Denver, Colorado

It would be a shame if people started ordering pizza from all the local vendors to this fine civil establishment… eventually leading to the point that such vendors refuse to deliver to this address ever again. The jokes that keep on giving.



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96 Husted contract


96 Husted Lane

96 Husted Lane

96 Husted Lane, listed for $6.5 million, reports a contract (actually, the report’s dated tomorrow, but never mind). The house sold new in 2006 for $7.350 million, then for just $5.650 in 2011 in a sale by a relocation company, so this price looks good for both buyer and seller.

Gotta love those relo deals.


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That Binney Park house is finally done


146 Hendrie Avenue

146 Hendrie Avenue

146 Hendrie Avenue (the house just outside the tunnel and across the street from the park) has been completed and hit the market today at $4.595 million. In its favor, it appears to have been erected by a meticulous builder, and the quality, from the outside, is clear. The possible downside is the park itself – it provides plenty of play space, to compensate for the lack of any kind of yard here, but it can get busy, and the street in front is always busy. And there’s the train overhead, naturally. I tend to think that those factors will drag down this one’s price but I’ve learned over the past couple of years not to underestimate the prices some will pay to live in Riverside. So I’ll sit back, and watch the fireworks. Or not.


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Here’s a Merritt contract


23 Red Coat Lane

23 Red Coat Lane – a Prius?

23 Red Coat Lane, asking $1.5 million, has a buyer. This is not a bad house at all, for the price (we’ll turn a merciful eye from the broker’s description of it as a “Colonial-Ranch Hybrid”) but it is smack on the highway. Hence its price, of course. Several clients of mine asked to see it, despite my warning of highway noise, and I was glad to oblige  – noise is subjective, while price is not. When we did see it, however, they all decided the location was not for them. Obviously, someone has reached a different conclusion, and good for them.


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I used to joke about this, but the stories keep coming (and so do the teachers, but …)


Stamford English teacher Danielle Watkins taught French

Stamford English teacher Danielle Watkins taught French

Yet another teacher arrested for sexing her students, and again, it’s a female. Are there really no male sexual predators in our schools and if not, is that because males have been driven from the field out of fear they’re all a danger to students? Let’s re-think that.


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They also serve who sleep and wait

Greenwich Cops await their pensions at the Greenwich Senior Center (anonymous contributor)

Greenwich Cops await their pensions at the Greenwich Senior Center
(anonymous contributor)

Comments Off on They also serve who sleep and wait

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Pocket listings on the rise, again

GAR Man: I gotta deal for you gonna knock ya socks off

GAR Man: I gotta deal for you gonna knock ya socks off

A “pocket listing” is a listing that’s kept off the Multiple Listing Service and sold exclusively to a particular brokerage firm’s customers (or select friends of that firm). Bloomberg News reported on the phenomenon a few days ago because, as the market in some areas recovers and reheats, the natural desire of agents and their brokers to keep a grip on the whole pie is reappearing.

Real estate website Zillow.com recently entered the game in a way that could help buyers see more of what’s out there — assuming the homes would otherwise vanish into a private network. It began allowing agents to post virtual Coming Soon signs on listings. That helps them generate buzz and see if the pricing is right before the listing hits the MLS, Zillow says. Agents must certify that they’re in compliance with the pre-marketing regulations of local and state regulators, the MLS and their brokerage. In some cities, like Seattle, the MLS doesn’t allow pre-marketing, so the feature can’t be used. In others, including Chicago, Zillow says, pre-marketing is common and getting a lot of interest.

Zillow requires agents to list a home on the MLS within 60 days of posting it as Coming Soon. In today’s market, many homes would be snapped up by then.

“You can bet your boots that in this market where a listing is as good as cash, some agents are looking to use that as a way to double their income,” says Murray.

The primary benefit to sellers in this arrangement is that they can avoid the nuisance and loss of privacy that comes with having to open their homes to the great unwashed. And for buyers, an agent who can tip them off to non-public listings means that they won’t have to deal with competitors. But is that a good thing for either?

You, buyer or seller, may trust your agent and the brokerage firm that employs her to be absolutely honest about the value of a property, but the true test of value is what the market says, not what an agent or, God forbid, a blogger thinks it is. No competing buyers leaves both seller and buyer uncertain whether they’re selling/buying  over or under market value.

Error is one thing, trust is another. Remember, the very brokerage firms that are pushing this trend in Greenwich are the same firms that control the Greenwich Association of Realtors (control hell, they own it) and are trying their damnedest to keep the public in the dark about  properties’ price histories, days on market, and the real “ask-to-sell ratios” (they use the last asking price to compute that ratio but the last asking price is last by definition – the house finally sold, albeit at half  the original price). As the large firms swallow the smaller, they’re working on wresting as much market share as they can from their big competitors and to that end, and to keep 100% of the commissions rather than split it with anther firm, they’re touting their size as a way to sell properties in-house, agent-to-agent.

You may think they’re doing this to help you, the consumer. You may also want to buy a bridge from The Greenwich Association of Realtors. I’m sure they can get you a great deal on one.


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Apple to apple


Photp courtesy of the Greenwich Association of Realtors: "Service is our Goal"

Photp courtesy of the Greenwich Association of Realtors: “Service is our Goal”

220 Riverside Avenue, which I can’t show you because of the Greenwich Association of Realtors policy of stripping information off public web sites, has sold for $1.990 million. It last sold. pretty much as it is today, in 2010 for $1.815.


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No. Next question.

Email received with subject heading, “inheritance”, which I’ve forwarded to Peter Tesei:

wangfeng <wangfeng@kansaigaidai.ac.jp>

9:11 AM (2 minutes ago)

Can i trust you?
I need you help


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They’ll just have to stick around and fawn over Obama with the rest of their friends




Billionaires won’t be able to fly to the Hamptons from NYC today because their president is coming to the city for a “Super-Pac” fund raiser, and airspace over eastern Long Island will be closed. One of the fund raisers, $65,000 per couple, will be held at the residence of Allen Patricof,  a multi-billionaire venture capitalist who, unlike Mitt Romney, is  a Democrat, so he’s okay. “He’s not evil like the Koch brothers”, Harry Reid explained to FWIW, “he doesn’t use his money to influence politics – just his heart, God bless him.”


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Of course, if you’re a middle-aged rockster, you won’t be buying OR renting


f you want my body and you think I'm sexy come on sugar let me know.

If you want my body and you think I’m sexy
come on sugar let me know.

WSJ: The death of the cover bands – spandex costumes, old-age home performances and day jobs

 [M]any cover-band artists these days … are finding it more difficult to earn a living. The problem is a paucity of lucrative bar-band gigs (thanks to DJs, trivia nights, karaoke, and changing tastes) combined with a glut of middle-aged musicians who just can’t quit the scene.

“If you said Steve Brown would be wearing Spandex pants, playing a hot-pink and green guitar and doing Michael Jackson and Madonna songs three years ago, I would have said, ‘No friggin’ way,’ ” the New Jersey native says. “My career has kind of gone backwards.”

Bobby Lynch, a 32-year-old pianist, has 12 different variations of his act—ranging from a solo show to a dueling-piano routine—to suit clients such as professional-services firm Ernst & Young, Italian car maker Maserati and Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, in New York.

Yet he sometimes sings Christmas carols at retirement homes in the winter. “I feel like I came on right at the death of the cover scene,” he says.

Bar-band gigs started getting less reliable about a decade ago, when the music business wobbled and club owners hurt by recession reduced their budgets, industry experts say. Tighter drinking-and-driving laws and costly licensing fees haven’t helped.

Sterling Howard, 67, owner of Musician’s Contact, a referral service, has helped rockers get gigs for 40 years, and he has never seen it so bad. Young men don’t go to bars as much in the hopes of meeting women, he says, while some people prefer open-mics or even silence to a loud band playing Bad Company tunes.

“People are watching their own drunken friends, which is maybe more entertaining,” Mr. Howard says.

Nor is pay keeping pace with the times, artists and booking agents say. A band making $400 or so a gig in the 1980s doesn’t make much more now. Inflation has eroded pay.

Brook Hansen is a case in point. A keyboardist with a tattoo of the logo of the progressive rock band Yes on his arm, he once made a decent living, he says, playing honky tonks in Nashville, U.S. military bases in Europe and hotels in China.

He settled in Las Vegas in 1999, earning $700 a week playing in lounge bands. Then casino-owners cut back on crooners after the post 9/11 downturn.

On a recent Saturday, he and a partner sang songs made famous by the group Survivor, in a small casino bar. Their most enthusiastic fan that night seemed to be Mr. Hansen’s wife. Mr. Hansen drives elderly people to medical appointments to supplement his income. He hopes to go abroad, maybe to Bahrain, where demand for musicians is strong. “It’s like Vegas 30 years ago,” he says.

The obvious solution, I suppose, is to grow up, but that’s hard to do at 49.




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I’ve been thinking the same thing, but didn’t want to seem (more of) a flack for my industry


If only they'd purchased, instead of renting! Irish eviction.

If only they’d purchased instead of rented! Irish eviction.

John Paulson: Buying a home is the best investment you can make right now

Hedge fund manager John Paulson famously became a billionaire during the financial crisis by shorting, or betting against, subprime mortgages.

Effectively, he bet against the housing market.

But now he thinks that buying a house is “the best deal investment you can make.”

Paulson expressed this earlier today at CNBC’s Delivering Alpha conference.

One of the reasons why he believes a house is attractive is because mortgages are just so cheap.

“Today financing costs are extraordinarily low,” Paulson said. “You can get a 30-year mortgage somewhere around 4 and a half percent.”

“The cost of owning is somewhat less than the cost of renting. And if you rent, the rent goes up every year. But if you buy a 30-year mortgage, the cost is fixed. So I think it, you know, is still a very attractive investment.”

I’ve had clients who could easily afford the cash borrow several million dollars to put towards a home because, they’ve told me, “it’s free money.” It may not be free, and deductions for interest are capped at $1.1 million, but it’s still awfully cheap and, historically, we won’t see such low interest rates again for a long time.

I’ll readily concede that I can’t possibly foresee the future, and, generally, I’m pessimistic about our long-term economic future (and hence, home prices), but I also remember paying 14.5% interest on my first mortgage in 1981, and even with the jump up to 4.5% in the past year, money still is (almost) free.

Of course, the counter-argument is that renting gives one the freedom to move about the country, and the cash flow to do so, and at my age, with grown children and no wife or girlfriend to tie me down, I’d go that way. But if I were starting a family again (God strike me dead) or still raising one and planning on sticking around town for a while, I’d make a different decision.


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