Right Now: The Greenwich Symphony

Ok, not right now, but a couple of minutes ago, and holy cow, what a performance. Hard to believe I had to be dragged to things like this when I was a kid, yet here I am, voluntarily attending!

Started off with musical newcomer “Frantz Schubert”, never heard of him, but I predict big things for this lad. Next up, a Russian composer, “Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky”, again, unknown to me, but wow, what music! (wouldn’t hurt his career one bit to shorten that name a little).

See the lady in the red dress? That’s Halley Gilbert, one of the three soloists with the Greenwich Choral Society, she was magnificent. So were tenor Elliot Deasy, and baritone Jonathan Rohr. Including these guys, there had to be at least 140 people on stage, so really powerful performance.

It all happens at the Greenwich High School Performing Arts Center, as a beautiful a hall as you can get (great acoustics, too). Next show Saturday night, February 25th.

More info:

Greenwich Symphony Orchestra

What’s Become Of The High-End Market?


2 Pierce Road, Riverside: asked $12,000, got $11,500 1st year, $12,500 2nd yr., $13,000 thereafter. Listing agent Gideon Fountain   Renting agent: Julie Lowe.

See that rental above? It rented quickly and easily, hooray! And lots and lots of other properties in town are renting quickly and easily, in all price ranges, isn’t that wonderful?

You sense my sarcasm… I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but this business is about selling stuff. Rentals, as I’ve explained previously, are all well and good, but sales, my friends, sales, that’s why we’re here!

To be accurate, properties are selling right now at a very nice clip, but there’s a price-ceiling that we can’t seem to crack; that ceiling starts at around $4,500,000. Below that number, plenty of sales, above, almost nothing.

And it’s not just Greenwich. Fellow brokers up the line, in towns like Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, they all report the same thing, little or no high-end sales (in Norwalk, that high-end starts around $1,500,000). Perplexing.

Pictured below is what I’d call a typical sale these days. Perfectly nice house, with what I thought for sure was a smart asking price, yet it took NINE MONTHS to get a deal. Anyway, plenty of these “cheapie” sales, but not enough of the big stuff…so far.

55 Wesskum Wood (on the hill overlooking Binney Park), Riverside. Asked $2.895M, Got $2.650M. List: Heather Platt Sell: Jill Miller

55 Wesskum Wood (on the hill overlooking Binney Park), Riverside. Asked $2.895M, Got $2.650M. List: Heather Platt Sell: Jill Miller




Can Changing A Street Name Make A Difference?

UPDATE: I have now learned one guy bought up the whole street and re-named it all by himself.

Yes, b’golly, it can, and a group of neighbors apparently has gone ahead and done it on (the former) “Jada Lane”.

The new name is “Apha Drive”, not terrible, certainly better than Jada, although….. doesn’t it sound a bit like one of those “male potentcy” formulas they promote all over the Internet and radio?

But never mind, it’s an improvement, dammit, just as surely as the change made by the wise folks on Cos Cob’s “Hooker Lane” who changed it to “Stonebrook”. Bland, yes, but for real estate value, a good move.

How Real Estate Gets Sold

17 Hemlock Drive, central ("in-town") Greenwich, last ask $6.995M, now has deal.

17 Hemlock Drive, central (“in-town”) Greenwich, last ask $6.995M, now has deal. List: Marjorie Pastel   Sell: Julie Chen

At first blush, this might look like a disappointing result. It started at $11,000,000 a little over a year ago, had three price reductions, down to $6,995,000, and finally, finally gets a deal.

So, did the broker over-price it or was it the owners? I don’t even care, because either way, that one-year process is completely normal, particularly in this price range. Even if the broker had recommended an initial ask of $6.995M (which might have triggered a bidding-war), there is no way on earth the sellers would have agreed to it and, in fact, they probably would have given the listing to a different broker!

As a broker, you get absolutely nowhere in this town by suggesting a sensible asking price. There are exceptions, of course, like the case last month where a broker recommended an asking price of $4,200,000 to a waterfront seller. The seller thought that was “too high”, and told the broker to list it for $3,700,000, and guess what?  A bidding war erupted, and it’s selling for…$4,200,000!

But that sort of seller is as rare as can be. Greenwich sellers, you’ll recall have three favorite sayings:

We don’t need to sell!

We’re in no hurry!

All it takes is one!

That’s simply a fact of life around here, and brokers have had to adapt to it. You price where the sellers tell you to, and you “try” that price for as many months as they can stand. Eventually they get sick of the process and, if you’re a good broker, who’s been communicating market data to the client the entire time, you are still there when they’re ready to cut the price!

All indications suggest listing broker Marjorie Pastel did everything right.


Chris von Keyserling Goes National

RTM member, Chris von Keyserling, on his way to full membership in the Tod Akin Club!

RTM member, Chris von Keyserling, on his way to full membership in the Tod Akin Club!

I knew this story had, shall we say, legs, when the details started to “evolve”. First it was a pinch on the buttocks, then it became “the groin area”, and finally, the media has settled on “genitals”. And the perpetrator, Chris von Keyserling, was quickly promoted!

His actual position as one of 225 members of Greenwich’s Representative Town Meeting, was determined to be not good enough for the media’s purposes, so he immediately became a “Republican official’, then that was improved to a “Republican politician”, and now, in addition to the last two, he’s risen to “Chair of the RTM”. Isn’t it amazing how, with a little media help, his career is improving!

Oh, and the incident occurred at our local old folks home (Nathaniel Witherell Center), but that was deemed an odd, possibly harmful detail, so now it’s become “an unnamed Town facility”.

Why all this trouble to “groom” the story? Why is it about to get the full NATIONAL MEDIA treatment? Because, unfortunately for the eccentric, often amusing Mr.von Keyserling, he has voluntarily provided all the ingredients of an irresistible story-line.

Whether you’re a recent graduate of the Howard Zynn School of Journalism, or a grizzled news veteran plugging away at your little New York Times cubical, you wake up each day with the identical agenda. It’s not actually written on parchment, framed, and hung on the wall of every newsroom in the country, but it doesn’t need to be, it’s understood by all…

Anything that embarrasses, disparages, or destroys Republicans will be immediately placed at the top of the news list.

Every day of their working lives, eager reporters sit and wait for something, anything that fulfills this mission. Whatever it is, whoever it is, they can use it.

And it doesn’t matter how obscure the political figure is.  Think Tod Akin, unknown Missouri US Representative, who made the idiotic remark that “legitimate rape doesn’t cause pregnancy”. Or remember that poor sap, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, caught nudging his foot against another chap’s in an airport men’s room? Or Congressman Mark Foley, discovered sending little love notes to a male intern? You wouldn’t know any of those names if they’d been Democrats, and their stories, if they were exposed at all, would never have travelled beyond the borders of their individual states. Sadly for them, they were Republicans, so they were elevated to national status.

So, sorry Chris, old chum, but that’s the world we live in. You have unfortunately become “useful” to the media machine, and you will now be used and used, until a better story comes along!







A High-End Sale: Yay!

16 Chimney Corner Lane, last ask $9,295,000, now has deal.

16 Chimney Corner Lane, last ask $9,295,000, now has deal.

It took a few months and a few price reductions, but David Ogilvy’s spectacular listing on Chimney Corner Lane has found a buyer, thanks to Houlihan broker Lindsay Sheehy.

I really, really like to see signs of life in this price category, it makes me think perhaps there’s hope yet for Connecticut, but if I could pick and choose, I guess I’d be even happier if something in this range was selling in the backcountry. But what the hell, it’s still great news.

Meanwhile, the place next door, now similarly priced, has been sitting around, on and off the market, for…for… (wait for it)… TWELVE YEARS.

But never mind next door, click on the listing link above, I think you’ll be impressed. This place is truly beautiful, an example of  great elegance, and expense-no-object decorating and finishes, but somehow not overwhelming or show-offy. Anyway, that’s MY take.

The Trump Press Conference

Like me, you are endlessly fascinated by politics, to the point where you even go to YouTube and watch old JFK press conferences, which are really, really entertaining.

But there’s a difference between those days and the situation today. The press loved JFK and you can see and hear it in these videos. In contrast, the press has a deep, DEEP hatred and fear of Donald Trump, and in fact, it is their (latest) attempt to destroy him that prompted this press conference.

The video runs over an hour, but I think it’s the most compelling live-history I’ve ever experienced. This story about Trump and his alleged escapades at a Moscow hotel is classic political warfare, and the way he has handled it is very much worth watching.

P.S. At minute-25, Trump turns over the microphone for a few minutes as lawyer Sheri Dillon painstakingly explains the extreme measures Trump has taken to isolate himself from his businesses so as to avoid any possibility, any semblance of conflict of interest. Ms. Dillon is impressive, and her presentation is fascinating all by itself. If Bill and Hillary could have done even 1/100th of this, Hill would be the president-elect today.


Too busy to watch the video? Here’s Liz Peek’s excellent summation: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/01/11/liz-peek-most-impressive-aspect-trumps-first-press-conference-in-2017.html