Daily Archives: July 6, 2016

Stay of execution for the computer, briefly

Just in time for a final real estate item today, then off to backup-blackout for a bit.

185 Riverside Avenue has cut its price to $4.495 million, which, finally seems like a reasonable price. The original price 783 days ago was $6.875 million, a breathtakingly stupid sum – even Riverside buyers can compare values and figure out what’s laughable and what’s not.

This is a beautiful older home, restored and brought into modern times (sort of – they grafted a new portion onto the old, with mixed results) , on a great yard in a really convenient location. The only thing wrong with it has been its price, and that now seems to have been addressed. The original broker did these owners no favor by coming up with her estimate of value.

185 Riverside Ave

185 Riverside Avenue



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Radio silence for a bit

I’m dropping my MacBook off to get a new battery shortly, so I’ll probably be off the air for 24 hours. I don’t know how the world will survive without my wisdom, but if it does, come back tomorrow afternoon (IPhone should still work, but it’s also being looked at at the fruit hospital – it’s not charging).


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The camera doesn’t lie

Or not this time, anyway.


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Dang it, we’re losing a resident who touched all our lives

A private (non-MLS) sale in Milbrook was reported today: $2.6 million, 1 Spring Road, and I Googled the seller just out of curiosity (yes, as you’ll have already noticed by now, this is a slow day for real estate news). Turns out, he’s the proprietor of a company that sells products we’ve probably all used, heard about, or seen on TV, and that’s pretty neat; more interesting than folks who trade electrons on Bloomberg screens, anyway.

In 1962, Combe created the men’s hair color category with the introduction of Grecian Formula 16, a product that gradually dyed away gray hair. Today, Combe’s hair coloring products, led by Just For Men, own more than 70 percent of the men’s hair coloring market, a category worth with more than $140 million in sales last year, according to ACNielsen and Information Resources Inc., both market research companies.

Unlike many companies in its industry, which use their corporate names to buttress their brands, Combe has traditionally let its brands speak for themselves. In addition to Odor-Eaters, the company makes Sea-Bond denture adhesive; the anti-itch products Lanacane, Scalpicin and Vagisil; and Just For Men hair color. Though it later sold the brand, Combe also invented the acne medication Clearasil.

Combe has 621 employees worldwide, 214 of them in White Plains, where the company has had its headquarters for some 50 years. It owns factories in Illinois and Puerto Rico, and has offices on five continents.

Combe’s peers in the health and beauty aid industry, however, are companies like Unilever and Procter & Gamble, multibillion-dollar corporations that dwarf Combe’s approximately $250 million in annual sales. Rather than compete with these giants, Combe has traditionally focused on products that address problems the big companies have overlooked.

”In a day and age of increasingly large beauty care companies, they have really found a place for themselves — in some cases have even been ahead of the big guys,” said Wendy Liebmann, president of WSL Strategic Retail, a Manhattan-based consulting firm. ”Just For Men is a perfect example. They have been there in a category that is only now being taken on by the larger companies.”

The linked-to NYT article from is entirely absorbing, and recommended. I mean that sincerely, and entirely without snark, because I admire entrepreneurs immensely. Okay, “absorbing” was a pun, but really – read the article.



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Has anyone seen a Rolls in town recently?


Two rappers, two Rolls: “Look – is that Greenwich over there?

I was thinking (always a dangerous thing to do)  and realized that I haven’t seen a Bentley or a Rolls Royce in town in ages, and wondered if that wasn’t as much a sign of the change of demographics here as the collapse of the mock-Tudor home market. Ferraris and McLarens abound, and Teslas at the extreme low end, but I don’t see any Rolls, even ones without chauffeurs.

Did the blue haired set take their cars with them when they tootled off to Florida? Have the young tigers who’ve taken their place lost their taste for Grandmother’s cars as well as her brown furniture? I’m betting they have. All I know is that the last Rolls Royce I heard of crossing our border was one belonging to 50 Cent, who came up John Street a decade or so ago looking at real estate. One of that street’s very wealthy residents (and a Democrat, I might add) called the broker of the house Mr. 50 Cent was visiting and that put an end to that gambit.

But ol’ 50 Cent’s bankrupt now, and probably not driving that car unless he’s being paid by someone else to do it, and I don’t see that anyone’s taken his place.

Tootsie roll

Tootsie Rolls?


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Price cut on Stag Lane

26 Stag

26 Stag Lane

26 Stag Lane, after 444 days on the market priced at $3.995, has dropped $455,000, and can now be yours for $3.495. In another location, that’d be a fine price, but probably not here.

The house itself is pretty grand. It was built by the good Richard Harris (there were two – the bad one went belly-up and returned to Canada) and though it had a hard time finding a buyer, it eventually sold for $4.250 in 2007. That was a dumb price, for the buyer, as was shown when they couldn’t resell it in time to avoid foreclosure in 2012. The new owner/lender sold it to the current owners for $2.6 million in 2013 and they, in turn, spent a great deal of money bringing it back to its original condition and even surpassing it.

But that still left the house where it is, which is down a narrow, very steep, shared driveway, within earshot of the Merritt Parkway. The noise is not oppressive, but it’s there, and no one likes driveways like this one. And Stag Lane just doesn’t command a high price.

So will $3.495 do it? I have my doubts.


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The going price of the original split-level homes on Bramble Lane, if you’re keeping track

15 BrambleLane

15 BrambleLane

15 Bramble, built in 1965, has sold for $1.9 million.


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Big dollar sale


111 Park Avenue

111 Park Avenue, Greenwich, which was discussed here last April when it was reported as pending, has closed at $5.9 million. Ogilvy had it for a year, 2010-2011 an unwavering $7.450 million, B.K. Bates had it from 2014-2015 beginning at $6.995 and ending at $6.4, Chris Finlay got it this year at $6.150 and a buyer appeared in just a couple of weeks.

You always want to be the third broker on an overpriced house, to give time and disappointment to have their way with the owner.


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Affirmative action works the same way

Face Tattoos

Of course, even some white applicants are going nowhere, criminal record or no

Employers who are no longer allowed to ask about an applicant’s criminal history are now using racial profiling instead.

Prior to the laws, white job applicants received about 7  percent more call-backs on job applications than similarly qualified black applicants. After the laws, this advantage soared all the way to 45 percent. That’s hardly an encouraging development, as one of the chief goals of “ban the box” is to improve economic opportunities for non-whites.

The reason for the gap isn’t entirely clear, but the researchers have a compelling theory: having been deprived of information about applicants’ criminal history, employers are simply engaging in racial profiling instead. Overall, blacks are substantially more likely than other races to have spent time behind bars, but criminal history boxes enabled non-criminal blacks to stand apart from criminal ones. Now, all blacks are being tagged with the same brush.

On the flip side, the researchers suggested whites may be reaping the full benefit of the laws, as they [criminals] are now lumped in with other whites in being assumed to have no criminal history.

Does a black graduate of an elite university suffer from the stigma that his qualifications are lower than many white graduates, and even white applicants? Ask Clarence Thomas; ask Michelle or Barack O’Bama.



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Who says Connecticut has lost its manufacturing base?


But not THAT much

Study: Over half of Connecticut private colleges are “dropout factories”.

Seven of Connecticut’s 13 private, non-profit colleges are graduating fewer than two-thirds of the student body. That’s according to an analysis of federal data by Third Way, a Washington D.C.-based think tank.

But some private colleges are doing much better than others. At Trinity College, for example, nearly 85 percent of students end up graduating. But at the University of Bridgeport, seven out of ten students don’t graduate.

A big difference between schools like Trinity and ones like Bridgeport is the students they enroll. Nearly half of students who go to Bridgeport are low income and are getting federal Pell grant money. But at Trinity, barely one in 10 students fit that category.

This is the case among many of Connecticut’s private colleges — some take lots of low income students, some take very few. Those that take a few tend to be the elite universities, and they also tend to have higher graduation rates.

Hiler suggested that this has pushed lots of low income students into schools that don’t have the resources to make sure these students can graduate.

“In a way, there is a case to be made that a lot of these elite institutions are perhaps perpetuating inequality in this country  by not doing more to take in more low and moderate income students,” Hiler said.

Maybe those Social Justice Warriors at Yale should drop out and make room for the slum dwellers they profess to be so concerned about.


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The poor will always be with us and so too, it seems, will this house in Khakum Wood

31 Khankum Wood

31 Khakum Wood

31 Khakum Wood is back after expiring last December, with a new broker and a new price: $4.595 million. The owners paid $7 million for it in 2006, which seemed ill advised even at the time, and have had it on the market since 2013 (723 days and counting), starting at $6.7 and ending in December at $5.1 million. Today it’s back at $4.595. Decent house, great neighborhood, but this style has difficulty finding buyers.

For that matter, most of Khakum Wood is having trouble finding buyers: No. 24 is just one example. The 2004-2006 going rate of $7-$8 million seems to have dropped during the crash and never recovered.

So it goes.

You won't have Nicon to kick around any more

You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, although there’s this house in Greenwich ….


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Broken Contract

6 Hobart

6 Hobart Drive

6 Hobart Drive, which was reported as under contract June 17th, is back on the market today. Contracts fall apart for all sorts of reasons and often it’s because the buyer encounters difficulty obtaining financing. I’m certainly not saying that’s the case here, just cautioning against assuming that some hidden flaw in the house was the difficulty; sometimes it is, often it isn’t. My own impression, expressed here last June, was that, at $2.3 million, there was room to make improvements and still not overspend for this neighborhood. Perhaps the cost estimates came in and poured cold water on that idea, but who knows?


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Well he was harmless, or Obama wouln’t have released him, so what’s the big deal?


Abu Wa’el Dhiab, Olympics fan

Brazilians search for released Gitmo prisoner who’s disappeared from Uruguay and  is believed to have  illegally entered their country.

Belela Herrera, a former Uruguayan deputy foreign minister now working as a human rights activist, said the reaction to Dhiab’s disappearance was “crazy”. She told Associated Press news agency that no case had ever been brought against him and it was wrong to link him to terrorism.

“He has a valid identity card, issued by the Uruguayan government, that allows him to go to other countries. He is not a fugitive from justice,” she said.

Well if a “human rights activist” says that the Syrian, who somehow, innocently found himself in Afghanistan in the company of Al Qaeda poses no threat, that’s good enough for me. Rio, here I come.


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