Hillary Won! (the second half)

I watched the whole debate but about an hour into it, I could almost feel the millions of Americans who had slipped away, either to change channels or go to bed. The first half was Trump’s, and I suspect that’s the part most people watched.I’d love to see a breakdown of ratings numbers for first half vs. second half.

I’d also like to see, just once in my lifetime, the Democrat get forced to spend valuable debate minutes arguing with the moderator, like the Republican always has to.
By the way, Hillary appeared to have completely recovered from her “pneumonia”. It’s quite miraculous, almost as though she’d never had it at all!

Monday Night’s Debate Questions Revealed!

The always fair, always impartial, Lester Holt. Critics accuse him of clear bias in his (now revealed) choice of questions for the candidates.

The always fair, always impartial, Lester Holt. Critics accuse him of clear bias in his (now revealed) choice of questions for the candidates.

NBC has confirmed that unknown hackers were able to invade an internal e-mail system and gain access to news reader Lester Holt’s private communications. The hackers have released at least some of the questions that Holt planned to ask each of the candidates in the first of three Presidential debates.

Critics are already reacting to what they term “soft-ball” questions for Mrs. Clinton, but an NBC spokesperson said they stand by Mr. Holt’s question choices. You be the judge:

Question one, for Mrs. Clinton:

“Madam Secretary, you have been accused of caring too deeply about America’s children. How do you respond?”

Question one, for Mr. Trump:

“There are four rival factions fighting for control of Syria, the Harakat Hazm movement, the Salafi jihadists, the powerful Jabhat al-Nusra militia, and the Syrian Revolutionairies Front of Jamal Ma’arouf. Discuss each of these groups and tell us which, if any, should the US be supporting?”

Question two, for Mrs. Clinton:

“During your time in the White House with former President Bill Clinton, you had a beloved cat named “Socks”. What was his favorite food?”

Question two, Mr. Trump:

“How many of your children did you molest, and when did you stop?”

Question three, Mrs. Clinton:

“What are the three worst things America should know about Donald Trump?”

Question three, Mr. Trump:

“Economist Milton Friedman and others have long argued that the US economy’s “money supply” figures, notably M1 and M2, provide critical information about the near-term course of the economy. Should Central Banks and the Federal Reserve go back to a largely money supply-oriented view, or should the present course of relying on a wide array of financial and economic data be continued?”

Question four, Mrs. Clinton:

“You’ve said on a number of occasions that your favorite color is blue. Would you tell us why you feel this way?”

Question four, Mr. Trump:

“If you are elected, will you specifically rule out appointing former KKK leader David Duke as a member of your cabinet?”




Riverside Spec-House Glut Called Off!

145 Riverside Avenue, nearing completion, NOT a spec-house!

A builder-reader has brought it to my attention that many of the on-going Riverside construction projects that I thought were specs are in fact custom homes. I investigated a bit and sure enough, at least four, maybe more, are being built for specific customers who ordered them.

So instead of the thirteen I predicted, we may see seven or eight new ones hit the market in the coming months, probably not an un-absorbable number.

All this custom-building got me to thinking…these projects are a clear indication of a thriving, active market, yet they go completely unrecognized in our market statistics!

For simplification, let’s imagine a scenario where, in 2016 Riverside records a total of just 20 house sales, priced between $1.5M and $2.5M. All of them get torn down by the buyers who then hire builders to build new ones. Riverside stats would therefore indicate the following: 20 sales, average price $2,000,000.

But where’s the statistic showing all that additional economic activity? A year later, there are 20 new houses worth $4.5M+, but no recognition of that fact.

This, my friends, is what I would call “invisible prosperity”.

P.S. By the way, the sales history of 145 Riverside Avenue provides a nice, neat little picture of Riverside’s price performance in the last decade or so. Here’s how 145 Riverside Avenue’s price changed since 2004:

2004   sells for $1,285,000.

2005   sells for $1,320,000.

2015   sells for $1,500,000.

During that eleven year history, not one red cent was invested in this house! The 2004 people lived in it for a short time, but the next couple of owners had it mostly on the rental market, getting a lousy $4,000/month, so the price increase is solely attributable to increased land value.

Now compare that experience to the typical back-country Greenwich property’s since 2004. Remarkable, is it not?

145 Riverside, before! Back in 1955, a charming cape, owned by the local window-washer, Mr. Meany. But by 2005, it was time to go.

145 Riverside, before! Back in 1955, a charming cape owned by the local window-washer, Mr. Meany. But by 2005, pretty much a run-down dump.

The Dumbest Move In Real Estate

The Winner and still champion, this place took 21 years to sell (finally closing in 2012 for $8M)

The Winner and still champion, this (lovely, 23-acre) back-country Greenwich estate took 21 years to sell, finally closing in 2012 for $8M.

Maybe “dumb” isn’t the right word, especially since people who do this are often highly intelligent and accomplished in other areas of their lives, but let’s agree that the WORST move in real estate is to leave your property on the market for months and months, years and years, at the same price (or with occasional grudging reductions).

I think this sort of thing is more common in wealthy enclaves like Greenwich, where every listing broker has heard clients utter these three lines s-o-o-o-o many times before:

  1. We don’t need to sell.

  2. We’re not going to give this place away.

  3. All it takes is one! (reflecting the mistaken belief that, if you wait long enough, a rich sucker will finally appear)

I was about eight years old when I first noticed this phenomenon.The family would drive up to Ogunquit, Maine every summer and one year we drove past a nice new for-sale sign posted in a field just outside of town. The next year, that sign was still there, looking a bit worse for wear.

By the fifth year, the weather had taken its toll and the sign was illegible, pretty much just faded letters and peeling white paint. Over the years, I saw this exercise repeated on other fields, with the same results. “What’s the point of that?”, I wondered. And I am still wondering!

Coming in 2nd place (but clearly making a run for the record) is this (also lovely) estate, which has entered its twelfth year on the market!

Coming in 2nd place (but clearly making a run for the record) is this also lovely estate in mid-country Greenwich, now well into its twelfth year on the market! Can the owner hang in there for just ten more years and break the record? Stay tuned!

John Fund Speaks In Greenwich

The local chapter of the League of Women Voters lured us in with a promise of a panel discussion of “Voter Fraud In America, featuring voting-fraud expert, John Fund“, so the audience was at least 50% conservatives here at Greenwich Library’s Cole Auditorium tonight.

What we got was a 38 minute, 10 second video called “Electoral Dysfunction”, a condescending propaganda film narrated by a human named “Mo Rocca”. According to this (Amercican Bar Association-endorsed) film, voter fraud is a non-existent fantasy of racist Republicans. Furthermore, it is an almost impossible burden for minorities, young people, and the elderly to obtain a photo ID. 

Do you believe that? If you do, then you would have been entirely satisfied with tonight’s entertainment. For the rest of us, well, we had to sit and wait over an hour to finally hear the exceedingly scholarly John Fund patiently explain how and why the requirement to provide a photo ID in order to vote, a concept endorsed by Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Andrew Young, Jr., and Martin Luther King III, is a reasonable and low-cost way to secure the integrity of the voting process.

Surely we can all agree, in order to vote, you should have to prove you are who you say you are, and that you’re a US citizen, right? 

No! And if you say such a thing, you are a xenophobic racist. One of the panelists, cazy activist Michael Waldman (ironically seated to the far right), assured all of us that there is no such thing as voter-fraud and two of the other panelists, CT’s Secretary of State Denise Merrill and Michael Brandi, CT’s head of Election Enforcement Commission, agreed!

We also learned that Connecticut makes absolutely NO attempt to determine whether or not you are a citizen, did you know that? Our Department of Motor Vehicles, under the direction of Governor Dannel Malloy, happily issues driver’s licenses to all comers. Once you have that, you’re free to vote. That is called “voter fraud”.

Despite appearances, this was a fairly well-atrended event.

More Bombings, Religious Right Suspected!

In a hastily arranged press conference, New York City’s Mayor De Blasio this morning called for more monitoring of the city’s dwindling number of Episcopal churches.

Saying he would not “fall into the trap” of accusing radicalized muslims every time a bomb went off, the Mayor called on all New Yorkers to “remain vigilant”. 

He also promised a stepped-up police presence that will remain in place for the next few days and will then be relaxed until the next bombing, which will then be followed by a brief “stepped-up police presence”.

“I am satisfied with this model and I see no reason to change,” said the Mayor. “I disavow those who call for attacking the root causes of terror attacks. We’ll continue our policy of treating each incident separately and some day, maybe in a few hundred years, they will stop”.

Afghanistan-born Amad Khan Rahami, possible member of Christian Right Extremist group!

Town Wasting Water?

My appreciation of the Town’s parks is second to none, particularly our beautiful golf course BUT…it’s just a teensy-bit galling, if that’s the word I want, when I see Binney Park sprinklers running full-blast immediately following a TORRENTIAL 1-inch rainfall, with more expected within the hour. 
Particularly when we all got phone messages last week admonishing us to “shut off your irrigation system”.

Barry Sternlicht vs. Gideon Fountain


82 Doubling Road, Greenwich, came on this week for $5,995,000. Gideon predicts a quick sale...we shall see, shan't we? Listed by: Leslie McElwreath

82 Doubling Road, Greenwich, came on this week for $5,999,000, Gideon predicts a quick sale. We shall see, shan’t we?
Listed by: Leslie McElwreath

As we all read this week,Starwood Capital’s own Barry Sternlicht is down on Greenwich, possibly because he’s been trying to sell a property or two and is encountering difficulties. But is it really as bad as he says? Mr. Sternlicht’s done famously well for his investors, and, after all, Starwood’s focus is real estate, but is he an expert on Greenwich, CT? No, he ain’t.

And I’m not disagreeing with him about the ongoing destruction of the Connecticut economy by Hartford politicians and their “public service” unions; we are heading down fast, presently one notch above Puerto Rico.

But guess what? California’s doing the same thing, none worse than San Francisco, where taxes are practically raised hourly. Yet San Fran’s real estate continues to chug along. Can it last forever? Hell, no! But continue, it undeniably does.

For the nonce, then, my view of Greenwich real estate is simple: If you price it right, buyers will suddenly appear. In fact, I saw a house this week (featured above) that I believe was well-priced and will therefore sell immediately. Let’s watch and see if I’m right.

Russ Pruner Does It Again!

107 Indian Head Road, Riverside, closed today at $16.250M. Interior was largely finished, landscaping, no so much. List: Tamar Lurie Sell: Russ (who else?) Pruner

107 Indian Head Road, Riverside, closed today at $16.250M. Interior/exterior was largely finished, landscaping, not so much.
List: Tamar Lurie  Sell: Russ (who else?) Pruner
(original ask: $28,000,000)

Are you sitting down? If you’re driving, please pull over before reading further…(I’ll wait)

Settled? Here it is: As of today, the record selling price for the Town of Greenwich in 2016 is $16,250,000 and the selling broker was none other than Russ Pruner, who, you will recall, set last year’s record of $35,000,000!

Who will stop this man? Obviously, no one, and if it’s your listing he’s decided to sell, you count yourself lucky. I certainly did in 2014 when he sold my Field Point Circle tear-down for $10,250,000. Yep, when ol’ Russ is on the case, expect to make a deal.

P.S. If you see the fellow standing at the bar, make him buy you a drink.