Here’s Why All Singers Need To Study Frank Sinatra

Watch the attached clip (brought to our attention today by the great radio talk-show host Mark Simone) and you’ll see exactly what made Frank Sinatra special. Notice the phrasing, the way certain notes are held, the perfectly pronounced words that nevertheless roll out so easily and naturally. Most of all, note the relaxed confidence, the rarest thing of all.

Did you know Doors lead singer Jim Morrison considered Frank Sinatra his main inspiration? Friends, it’s true. And keep watching as the next clip shows Sinatra with his main inspiration, Bing Crosby (who later also inspired the Beatle’s John Lennon).

So there it is in one little 4 minute, 23 second excerpt, the two greatest popular singers of the 20th century.

Merry Christmas, Tiny Tim, God bless us, every one!

Builder Jim Gardiner: Another Quick Sale

267 Riverside Avenue has apparently closed this week for $4,490,000. List: Carol Zuckert Sell: Jared Randall

267 Riverside Avenue has apparently closed this week for $4,490,000. List: Carol Zuckert    Sell: Jared Randall

You longtime readers know my feelings about builders. I vented on the subject back in 2013, but briefly, my complaints (about some of them) are as follows:

  • They have no compunction against submitting a phony bid.
  • They overprice their houses and waste years of brokers’ time.
  • They cut corners to save a nickel.
  • They are disloyal to their brokers.

But there are exceptions, and one of them is this fellow Jim Gardiner, who works with broker Carol Zuckert. Gardiner doesn’t submit phony bids, doesn’t cut corners, and remains loyal to broker Zuckert, Best of all, his houses sell quickly!

His latest victory is the quick sale of 267 Riverside Avenue. It didn’t even hit the market before (crafty and swift) broker Jared Randall brought a buyer in and wrapped up the deal with broker Zuckert.

Builder Gardiner paid $2,100,000 for the tear-down and it closed in October, 2015, so a bit over one year from start to finish. Is it any wonder this guy attracts investors?

This is the "before" picture at 267 Riverside Avenue. .54 acres means FAR allowed 7,409 sq.ft.

This is the “before” picture at 267 Riverside Avenue. .54 acres means FAR allowed 7,409 sq.ft.



The Mysteries Of Fame

I suppose SHE is ok to look at, but this "Tarek" guy has actually caused death-by-boredom is 45 countries.

I suppose SHE is ok to look at, but this “Tarek” guy has actually caused death-by-boredom in 45 countries.

History is replete, if that’s the word I want, with individuals who have experienced un-deserved, un-earned, even outright mysterious fame. Some might call Zsa Zsa Gabor an example, but I’d disagree; all the Gabor sisters had personality and charisma.

No, a good (current) example is Kim Kardashian, who, as far as I can tell, has absolutely nothing, no charm, no wit, no ability to act. Nothing there but a well-filled top and the bodacious booty (I’ve heard she’s actually a sharp businesswoman, but never mind that, I’m trying to make a point here).

But now, suddenly, a new, upcoming inductee to the Mediocrity Hall Of Fame has emerged, and his name is Tarek El Moussa (he looks to me like a “John Smith”, but we’ll accept that’s his real name, and that it’s the only thing remotely interesting about him!)

Wanna know how certifiably dull this guy is? A study was conducted at the USC Health Sciences Campus in downtown Los Angles, just a block from the L.A. County morgue. A group of students was taken to the morgue and allowed to question six corpses for 30 minutes. They then returned to campus and watched 30 minutes of Mr. El Moussa’s home improvement-house-flipping program “Flip Or Flop“. All of the students reported that the corpses were infinitely more entertaining than Mr. El Moussa!

Dead people…more interesting! Now THAT’S dull.

Does this mean I don’t like the program Flip Or Flop? No, and I’ll tell you why: It provides you with very good information, like what should a simple bathroom renovation cost? What tiles look best with that kitchen counter? Is this house even worth renovating?

If you can just endure the hideous monotone voice of (the lovely) Christina El Moussa, who, let’s be honest, appears to be the brains of this operation, and the personality-free, graduate of the Little Rascals School of Acting, Tarek El Moussa, you can actually learn a thing or two!

Hate Driving In Snow? Practice!

It’s been many months since you drove on snow and felt the thrill of having your rear wheels slip away as you head towards a telephone pole. Does this make you want to stay home on snowy mornings, like a little baby, waiting for Mr. Snowplow to do his work?

Don’t be silly! This is what you bought that damned SUV for, isn’t it? Get out there and drive! And if you’re still a little nervous, go practice in a safe place, like say, a big empty parking lot (quick, before it gets plowed!).​

Note: that’s me in the rear-wheel drive Jaguar with four snow tires…

On The Other Hand, There’s This


22 Mimosa Drive, Cos Cob: everybody wants!

22 Mimosa Drive, Cos Cob: $1,200,000… everybody wants! List: Roseann Sarica Benedict

UPDATE: Closed 12/01/2016 for $1,320,000. That’s the power unleashed by “underpricing”.

Everyone likes Mimosas, don’t they? Of course they do. And they also like streets named after the flower or the drink.

So no one will be surprised to hear that 22 Mimosa Drive, which hit the market a day or two ago, attracted multiple bids from builder and end-users alike, and the whole thing went to sealed-bids!

This a nice, fairly level one-acre parcel and the asking price was smart. Result? Bidding war.


Note: My happy little face appears on the listing link, but this is Roseann’s listing.

Havemeyer Park Building Lot

39 Northridge Road, asked $799,000, GOT $965,000.

39 Northridge Road, asked $799,000, GOT $965,000. List: Bill Andruss. Sell: Andy Healy.

“Havemeyer Park” is on the Town of Greenwich’s eastern border, one side of Havemeyer Lane is Old Greenwich, the other is Stamford. Other streets in this neighborhood are named after famous WWII military figures, so you’ve got MacArthur Drive, Halsey, Nimitz, and Marshall. In addition, there’s Northridge Road, Old Wagon, a bunch of others.

A lot of it is zoned R-7, (FAR = .36) so even the smaller lots have plenty of building potential, plus, this has been one of the last bargain spots in town. Got the picture? No? Well take a good look at the picture above, because that little shack is a typical example of what Havemeyer Park used to be all about.

World War II ended, servicemen returned home to Greenwich, and found there was no “affordable” housing, so the Town modified the zoning for this section and authorized the building of about 100 of these nice little homes. They sold for around $15,000, (possibly funded by George Bailey of the Bailey Bros. Building & Loan Company).

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, 39 Northridge Road! Listing agent, Bill “Blabbermouth” Andruss* brought this baby on for $799,000 way back in March. Was it underpriced? Sure! Was that a mistake? Hell no! As always, underpricing worked its magic, and the end result was it closed today for $965,000, $166,000 over ask.

For that, selling broker Andy Healy’s client gets .29 acres in the R-7 zone, which means our busy little Building Department will (graciously) allow 4,547 square feet of above-ground living space, that’s a lot of house.

It hasn’t happened overnight, but over the last decade, this whole neighborhood has gained substantially, and it looks like there’s plenty more growth to come.


*kidding about Bill, he’s the complete opposite!

Does One Example Prove Anything?

524 North Street, fetched $5.2M in 2008, sells again, this time for $3M.

524 North Street, fetched $5.2M in 2008, sells again, this time for $3M. List: Lee Prince  Sell: Edineia Bickerstaff

So yeah, no, one example proves nothing! But for blogging purposes, it sure does save time researching the market! But seriously, I really do believe this one example, 524 North Street, neatly sums up the whole “real estate collapse of 2008” story quite neatly.

You students of history will recall, the property was owned for five years by interim Citibank Chairman, Charles Prince (he paid $4.475M in 2003). He put it back on in January 2008, for $6,150,000. The market declared that too high, so it was reduced to $5,850,000 in April, finally striking a deal in July, and closing, are you ready? August 20th, 2008, for $5,200,000. Just think about that: August 20th!

Late August, 2008, Bear Stearns was going under, Lehman Brothers was about to disappear, the whole financial world appeared to be crashing, and the absolute last one out the door was….? Chuck Prince!

I seem to remember hearing that the listing broker had to twist his arm to take the deal, but I could be wrong about that. Prince also agreed to replace the exceedingly expensive cedar roof (a wise decision if it kept the deal together).

So now, eight long years later, the place sells again, this time for a measly $3,000,000. Does that mean the market for mid-country is really, truly still down 42%? No, because as nice as this place showed, it still looked dated and tired. Even in an unchanged market, it still wouldn’t have reclaimed that $5.2M.

Yes, the land value dropped during those eight years, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. If the house had been kept up-to-date, it might have sold for a better price, maybe even one million dollars better.

Listing Agent: Lee Prince

Selling Agent: Edineia Bickerstaff


Brokers Still Hate Rentals

This poor sap probably has no idea! New to the business, doesn't know any better, that's my guess...

Here’s a typical broker showing rentals, the poor sap. Note that his customers look absolutely thrilled (this never happens).

I covered this subject back in 2006, but it’s always fun to re-visit!

Suppose you were to shake me awake one night at 3:00 AM * and shout, “Gid! How do you feel about doing rentals?” Of course with no time to prepare my answer, I’d probably blurt out that I don’t care for them (and perhaps some other colorful words).

“But why then do you do so many, Mr. Real Estate?”, you might next ask, and the answer is, it’s kind of like ol’ Sir Edmund Hillary discussing the reason for climbing Mt. Everest: because they are there. You’re a broker, you have clients, they own properties that need tenants, what are you going to do, farm it out to an assistant?

Nope, it’s one of those “small” jobs you have to do yourself. Because letting a bad tenant into a client’s property is a disaster, they will never forgive you. And why should they? You are an expert, loads of experience, equipped with all the tools needed to check people out before they move in. There’s no excuse for blowing it.

Three things: credit report, employer verification, previous landlord. That’s it, that’s all you need. Even just two of those is usually good enough, but you have to actually do the work. Get that credit report, call the employer, talk to that last landlord! (oh ,and go ahead and google the person, too).

Doesn’t sound all that bad, so why do brokers hate this aspect of real estate? It’s the crappy pay. Pretty much the same amount of work as a sale, for 1/16th the money.

Let’s compare paychecks from a rental deal vs. a sale deal, shall we? This gets ugly…

Rents for $7,000/month, total lease amount = $84,000. Renting broker’s share is 3.75%, so that’s $3,150. You split that with your office and your “split” is 60/40, let’s say. So your big payday is 60% of $3,150 or $1,890, yippee!!

But let’s say God smiles down on you that day and your $7,000/month rental clients decide to buy something instead. They end up spending $2,000,000, how does that work out?

Sells for $2,000,000, selling broker’s share is 2.5%, that’s $50,000. After you split with office, your take is $30,000.

Yep, almost 16 times the pay for selling versus renting, get the picture?


* I promise you will never have the opportunity to do this.