With apologies to Mr. Michael Spilo

Outta here

Outta here

Mr. Spilo submitted a thoughtful letter to the editor of another publication and I wanted to repost it here, but don’t have contact information for him. So I’ve gone ahead anyway, but Mr. Spilo, if you do object, please contact me and I’ll remove it immediately.


Letter to the editor from Michael Spilo, RTM District 11

Connecticut homeowners should be very unhappy. Years of bad government policy have left us poorer. Literally. Property values in the state are 4% lower than they were in 2009 at the end of the Great Recession.

Since 2009, the national average home price (green line below) gained a whopping 28.4%, while CT prices (red) have dropped 4.1%, a 32.5% difference.

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You might think that CT homes were highly over-priced before the recession, but not so. In fact, between 1991 and 2009, the U.S. average, NY and CT housing markets moved largely in tandem. But since 2009, NY homes have risen 18%, and MA 30%, in line with the national average, while CT homes have lost 4.1% of their value.

According to Zillow, the median home price in Connecticut is $224K (the national median is $200k, NY $300k, MA $400k). This means that relative to the rest of the U.S., the average CT homeowner has missed out on $110,000 in appreciation. In Fairfield county the median home price is over $700,000 which means the “Lost Decade” has cost Fairfield county homeowners $300,000 each.

68% of CT Residents are homeowners, and the CT median income is just under $70,000, which makes the lost appreciation is equivalent to well over year’s salary, before tax.

On a state-wide basis, there are 814,000 single family homes, so CT has missed out on $90 Billion in home appreciation and over $2 Billion in associated tax revenues.

What does this mean to you? if you moved to CT before 2009, divide your current home value by three. That’s about how much more your home would be worth if you lived outside CT. Even if you moved to CT after 2014, you missed out on an average 10% appreciation relative to New York Residents.

But “what did we gain?” Is Connecticut better off? Do we lead the country in some measure? For example, CT has low poverty rates, but has CT done a better job helping our poor than the rest of the country? No. CT has 4% MORE people in poverty than in 2009, whereas the U.S. has 6% fewer.

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CT Median Household Income has been above the U.S. average and even ahead of NY and MA, but in the last 10 years, CT gains have lagged the rest of the country. Here, again, we find CT below the 2009 rate with NY and MA ahead.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=ow2y Economic Research Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis. Source: US Census Bureau

Employment? Nope. CT employment growth since 2009 is nearly flat, where our neighbors have seen significant growth. CT is 10% behind.

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What is the problem? A 2016 Gallup poll of CT residents found 47% plan to move out of the state within 5 years! The primary reason: State tax burden.


The bottom line is that it’s a mistake to think we can tax or spend our way out of this mess. CT residents bear the second highest tax burden in the nation, and they’re leaving. More tax is not the solution.

I don’t pretend to know how to fix all this, but I believe that the problem is NOT our infrastructure. Our infrastructure may be older, but that’s not why businesses are leaving. The problem is NOT our safety net – CT has an excellent safety net, and yet people are leaving. The problem is NOT our education system – CT has one of the best educated workforces in the country, and yet people are leaving.

Let’s not suffer another lost decade. Let’s NOT elect people who say we need to spend even more. Ten years of their spending has not improved anything.

Lying press, NYT edition, example 1,21,348

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This is done deliberately, both for the comfort of its readers and for consumption around the country.

Small-time Democratic donor? Well, at least they admit he was Democrat

Anyone with even a vague sense of who Buck is knew the idea that he was a “small-time” donor was ludicrous. A quick search of the Open Secrets database shows Buck has donated at least $100,000 to Democrat candidates and groups over the past decade. A Fox News review of federal records showed that “Buck also contributed more than $500,000 to Democratic groups, including $1,500 to the Obama presidential campaign and $2,950 to the Hillary Clinton campaign.”

The Times’ tweet was not an error outside of the article behind it. The article, written by four reporters, called Buck “a small-time Democratic donor and political activist” in its lede.

The old grey whore is as bad as Greenwich Time, another paper I won’t subscribe to.

I prefer not to

Royal Observatory, Greenwich, England — its time has come, and gone

Royal Observatory, Greenwich, England — its time has come, and gone

Greenwich Time has joined the Hartford Courant behind a paywall, and it will now cost $10 month to read local news. It’s easy to understand the need for our local rag to charge for its product: reporters — both of them — need to be paid, editors paid severance, etc., but that doesn’t mean I have to pay the freight. I have a choice how I choose to spend my money, and Greenwich Time’s coverage of local issues isn’t worth anything to me. If I want to read a press release from the Greenwich Democrats I can go directly to the source; I don’t require Bob Horton to parse it for me, and I really don’t care what he or our local high schoolers are thinking about global warming or Donald Trump.

I will miss the paper’s occasional coverage of our zoning board, but I won’t miss it ten dollars worth.

So thank you for your service, and goodnight.

They haven't actually lost money on it yet, because they haven't sold it yet

The nice thing about a slow listing is that the agent doesn’t need to keep the photos up-to-date: winter will come around again, and the pictures will again be current

The nice thing about a slow listing is that the agent doesn’t need to keep the photos up-to-date: winter will come around again, and the pictures will again be current

Owners of 613 Round Hill Road, way up north, cut their price to $3.3 million today. They paid $3,999,999 for it in 2007, so trying for $3.8 this past January was probably ill-advised. Remote locations have fallen out of favor in the past twelve years, and 1992 construction, especially kitchens and baths, looks dated, even obsolete these days.

1992 called: it wants its foyers back

1992 called: it wants its foyers back

How hot was the 2007 market? This hot: you could toss pictures like these onto the internet and still get full price.

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Dirt seeks its own level

(Chlorinated) water view

(Chlorinated) water view

The owners of 167 Byram Shore Road asked for $4.7 million when they offered it for sale back in June, 2018. and at that price, a buyer might have expected, if not direct waterfront, something more than a landlocked parcel with an undistinguished house atop. So imagine their disappointment when they visited the place and discovered that the listing’s promise of “water views along Byram Shore and Byram Park” meant no more than glimpses of Long Island Sound while traversing Byram Shore Road, and visiting the municipal pool.

In fact, one doesn’t have to imagine that disappointment; the house sold today for $1.950.

Sometimes you look at a house and wonder why it hasn't sold. Other times, not so much


459 Stanwich Road, 9 acres of swamp and a tear-down, dropped its price to $2.495 million, down from the $3.5 it started at 18 months ago. Yes, it’s back lot, but a canny commuter could hop the fence separating this property and the Merritt Parkway and hitchhike to the City; just 50 minutes plus wait time, I’d estimate.

Party on at our Little Houses on the prairie

For sale by owner

For sale by owner

Back Country survivors to host “meet your distant neighbor day”.

The lonely and dispirited homeowners in our town’s back country have invited town residents living in more desirable parts of town to travel north an hour this Saturday to see what The Fringe is all about.

“Everyone still up here will be attending”, back country booster Mark Pruner told FWIW. “That’s, um, thirteen families, at last count— three of those will be moving to Florida in October, which is why we moved the date up, but for now, yup, thirteen. That’s not including our alpaca herds, who will also be attending. I’m pretty sure all the pretty horses have either already been eaten or reclaimed by the banks, but if there are any left, they’ll be here too.

“And we’ve enlisted the help of our servants and caregivers, so there’ll be food stands offering native specialties — ever had roasted guinea pig on a stick? delish! — and our outdoor crews will be offering lawn tractor rides, so fun for all!”

Pruner said there will be no rain date: “Look around you,” he suggested to FWIW’s Lost Cause correspondent, “we’ve got something like 1.2 million square feet of empty housing around here. It rains, we just go inside, so fire up your GPS and come find us!”

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Again, the paper of record scoops its competitors


Elizabeth Warren admits to wearing paleface at a college party

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Elizabeth Warren is embroiled in controversy once again, this time after she admitted to wearing racially offensive "paleface" at a costume party back in her college days.

"As a proud Native American woman, I now realize that dressing as a white woman at that party all those years ago was insensitive and offensive," she said in a heartfelt apology video. "It was wrong of me to culturally appropriate white culture, as I am only 1023/1024th white European colonizer."

"I only hope that my constituents can forgive me for who I was back in my college days," she added.

It just keeps getting better

16 boulder.jpg

On Tuesday, discussing the merits of a new listing at 8 Boulder Brook Road, I mentioned that the listing for a similar home at 16 Boulder Brook had just expired, and I suggested that bargain hunters who like the 10,000 sq.ft. newish construction look might look there, in addition to number 8, and possibly save a couple of million..

Today 16 Boulder Brook is back, now owned by People’s Bank, and asking $4.295 million — the former owners paid $5.872 million for it back when it was new in 2007. Usually, banks don’t want to own houses, so a low offer here might be well received.

(Check back later for interior photos, which have yet to be posted)