The big bucks are still landing in town


9 Oakley Lane, a spec house  priced at $11.995 million one broker and two years ago and currently looking for $9.475, is reported as pending. Me myself, I'd expect a least a slate roof for all that money, but owners of these places rarely stay for the full ten-year life cycle of cedar, so I suppose they don't care.

I do find it amusing that, while both the original and current listing claim 14,000 square feet (town tax card pegs it at 10), the first agent acknowledges that 4,000 of that space, minus the four-car garage, will be found in the basement, while the new one blithely describes the house as "three-story". Ah, that Tamar; such a card!

"New" at Stallion Trails. I still wouldn't bite

 buyer beware

buyer beware

9 Stallion Trails, priced at $3.,950 back in 2014, rented out and returned to the market between rentals since then, is back today at $2.950. I advised a client against buying this house back in 2006, and I'd do so today, for one primary reason: it's clad in Drivit™ or, if you will, EIFS, a plastic stucco-like coating that was supposed to provide insulating and waterproofing qualities to buildings. Instead, it let water in and kept it in, and the resulting rot kept class action lawyers fat and happy for several decades.

The product has matured, according to this article in Architect Magazine, and, supposedly, a Drivit house built after the late 90's will be comfortable and safe. That may be so, but I'd be wary of a house that, like this one, was built in the 80s.

With its population now ten per cent Muslim, Denmark, population 5.7 million, reacts

 back you go, then

back you go, then

Banning Burkas won't stop the infidels, but it's a start.

One of Inger Stojberg’s most popular ideas is for migrants who have lived in Denmark for more than three years to pay for translators’ services when visiting a doctor, rather than relying on the State.
She says: ‘Unless we dare to make demands on foreigners, we will fail to address the serious problems of parallel societies where people neither work nor speak the language and don’t have Danish values.
‘A good place to start is to give back responsibility to those who have come here: learn the language or pay for your interpreter.’
In a poll by the newspaper B.T., 93 per cent of Danes questioned agreed with the minister’s plan.
‘People are afraid of the consequences,’ said Annette Bjerregaard, 54, who works at the church. ‘If they feel people are integrating, they are positive. If not, they are not so positive.’
Annette’s son went to what was known among local Danes as ‘the white school’, where all the pupils were ethnic Danes. In this part of town there are neat privately owned homes, shops and pavement cafes.
Yet a mile away in a poorer part of Hvidovre it is very different. Here 5,000 people, both foreigners and Danes, live together in a sprawling council-run housing estate.
Larry Ellis, a debonair 65-year-old resident with a shock of white hair, works as a gardener at the local university. Having finished his shift, he is relaxing with friends outside the estate’s community centre.
They all agree there are too many migrants coming to Denmark. ‘That is the problem and it has not been addressed for years,’ he says.
‘Even here, we are housed in different parts of the estate to the migrants. The council has put ethnic Danes in blocks on one side of the road and Muslims in blocks on the other. We just don’t mix, and religion is part of it.’
This does not bode well for the Government’s efforts to encourage integration. And indeed, some Danes want to crack down against migrants still harder.
As the mainstream politicians react to a growing sense of disillusion about mass migration, a new party led by a 42-year-old architect called Pernille Vermund has seized the moment.
The divorced mother of three, who lives far from the Copenhagen ghettos, hopes her party — the New Right — will gain seats in elections next year on a hardline anti-migrant manifesto.
It calls for the residence permit of any ‘foreigner convicted in court’ to be withdrawn and for no more welfare benefits, housing subsidies and other state payments to anyone except Danish citizens.
She told me: ‘Politicians for decades have let people into our country who do not share our values. They do not assimilate. Now the politicians make a patchwork of rules to try to correct their own mistakes. Forcing Muslim mothers to deliver their toddlers into state-run daycare is not going to make them Danish, or less Muslim. It simply will not work.’
Her views would have been condemned as xenophobic extremism in liberal Denmark a few years ago. But mass immigration has hardened attitudes.
Back in Mjolnerparken, where 1,752 people of 38 nationalities live cheek by jowl, I meet one of the community elders.
An Iraqi Kurd by birth, smartly dressed Taher Mustafah, 59, came to Denmark in 1985. He has worked for years as a civil servant and helped run an Islamic charity.
We stand on a busy street corner to chat, as Danish girls in skimpy shorts cycle past women with veiled faces shepherding children along pavements, closely watched over by their husbands. Truly, it is a stark clash of cultures.
Taher looks at one of the veiled women and shakes his head.
‘I know her,’ he says. ‘She is Tunisian and her husband is an Iraqi. My view is that if you live in a country, you should show respect for the society in which you live. She should not wear the burka here in Denmark and soon she will not be allowed to.’
Yet nearby, in an Iraqi-owned cafe, I hear a different opinion from an Iraqi migrant father called Jaber Saleh, 40, who is eating a pitta bread-and-hummus lunch with his wife Farah, 29, and son Hassan, six.
The Salehs are angry with the Danish Government. Despite living and working here as a truck driver for 17 years, Jaber has still not been granted citizenship.
Since the day he arrived, he has clung to his roots. He sent his son to an Arabic school in Copenhagen until it was closed by the Government, which accused some staff of having links to terrorism.
‘The Government was wrong,’ says Jaber. ‘It was a good school where Hassan was taught in the Arabic language, not Danish, and he learnt the Koran. He speaks Arabic at home and has no Danish friends, and I am pleased about that. I don’t want him to learn from them bad things, the swearing, the low moral code of Denmark.
‘This society is too lax. I will do anything to avoid my son learning the values of Denmark.’
As I help Hassan write his name in the English alphabet in my notebook, I wonder what life will bring for this bright, well-behaved child, growing up torn between two cultures.
His family are not preparing him for life as a Dane and, in a rapidly changing country, he may never be accepted as one even if he wishes to be.
And that surely spells trouble for him and his adopted nation. 

"Adopted nation"? It seems not.

Sex doesn't necessarily sell at a premium in Old Greenwich

7 ford lane.jpg

The owners of 7 Ford Lane "won" a bidding war for it in 2012, paying $5.6 million for what had been listed at $5.495, and then converted its interior from traditional to NYC chic, "as designed by Sex  and the City's decorators". 

As long ago as March, 2017, I poked fun at these owners' refusal to budge from their 2016 price of $6.749 million, but it  took another year before they accepted reality and threw in the towel. Sold today for $5 million.


Well, you just never know what will appeal to Westchester buyers

50m sumner.jpg

50 Sumner Road, which failed to sell for $3.6 million from November through May of this year, has now been relisted at a new. improved price of $3.849 million. The ad copy is mostly devoted to the attractions of nearby Armonk and the proximity of the Westchester airport, but also claims that the home's only 12 minutes from downtown Greenwich, just in case potential Westchester buyers might want to travel to foreign climes. The former owner of the property, which was partially torn down and replaced by this iteration, almost made it back here from there in approximately that time span, but he crashed his Mercedes and lost his license;  I'd advise a slower pace, especially after dining.

So-so land, obscure location, I think that the previous owner did well to sell the place for a loss at $1.575 in 2015, after paying $1.650 for it in 2010. This builder may not be so fortunate.

Once the parlor was discarded, could this appendage last long?

 Honey, please pass the sugar

Honey, please pass the sugar

The Curse of the Vestigial Dining Room

For a recent study, UCLA-affiliated researchers in fields ranging from anthropology to sociology used cameras to record in great detail how 32 dual-income families living in the Los Angeles area used their homes. Their findings link real data to something about which I have been yelling into the void for years: Nobody is actually using their formal living and dining rooms. Families actually spend most of their time in the kitchen and the informal living room or den.

Yet we continue to build these wastes of space because many Americans still want that extra square footage, and for a long time, that want has been miscategorized as a need.The ironic inefficiency of hyper-exaggerated high-end entertaining spaces belies a truth: These spaces aren’t really designed for entertaining. They’re designed for impressing others. 

I live in a ’70s-era house, one that doesn’t have a lot of room, but does have one of these formal dining rooms. It’s a stupid waste of space — but you know, the last house I owned, a 1990s-era house, had the same thing (we used it as a home office). I really hate these rooms. What a waste! If I were able to design my own house, I would combine the dining room with the kitchen, and make it a larger than usual space. In our current house, we have what is called a “breakfast nook” attached to our kitchen. It’s not big enough for all of us to gather there to eat, but we spend way, way more time as a family in the kitchen and breakfast nook than we do in the formal dining room, which functions pretty much as a storage facility for books (on bookshelves) and a dining table. 
Most people I know have formal dining rooms in their houses. I’m trying to think if any of them actually use it more than a few times a year. In our house, you have to leave the kitchen and take a few steps down the hall to the dining room. It’s such poor design, but it’s common. 
(Via The Browser, which you should be reading daily.)

Just as a parlor reserved for visits from the minister and the occasional afternoon tea became obsolete, the stand-alone dining room is pretty much a luxury today. A fine place for formal dinner parties, and if you have 10,000 sq. ft. to play with, then why not indulge, but otherwise, there are probably better ways to spend that space.

Sale price reported (way up) on Lake Avenue

851 Lake.jpg

851 Lake Avenue, $3.775 million. It's been on the market since February, 2015, when it was initially pegged at $5.5, and I imagine the owner was delighted to be rid of it, even at this discounted price. I'll confess that I always hated the property itself: it's a narrow, stretched sliver of land, which, to me, defeats the whole purpose of living in the back country — why live in an alley? — but this sale just shows, once again, that at the right price, there's LWAYS A BUYER.

And another price cut

200 Old Mill.jpg

200 Old Mill Road, which sold new in 2004 for $6.3 million (it had asked $7.250) has been on the market since 2016, when it tried for for $6.730. Reduced today to $5 million and — my guess — it's still falling.

It's a Jordan Saper creation, which means an oversized bulk, with rooms totally disproportionate to humans and cold, hostile living spaces. That's just my opinion, of course, and Saper did very well selling these things back in the 2000-2010 era, but resales aren't looking so good. Part of that can be attributed to Saper's choosing to build in the back country, and that market has collapsed, but I think the design isn't helping.

 Typical Jordan Saper master bedroom/airplane hangar — who's want to sleep here? 

Typical Jordan Saper master bedroom/airplane hangar — who's want to sleep here? 

Sale prices reported

 5 Stanwich Lane

5 Stanwich Lane

5 Stanwich Lane, listed at $1.850 million, immediately found a buyer an has sold at full price. That's no surprise, because the price is well within what houses have sold for here, and the house, built in 1929, may need some updating, but is a real charmer.

Stanwich Lane is that loop just at the bottom of Stanwich Road, which gives it great convenience to town, while also offering privacy and freedom from traffic. Good spot.

 7 Dewart Road

7 Dewart Road

7 Dewart Road took longer, and required quite a price cut before it sold, but sell it did, fo $6.260 million. It started at $7.950 last November, but knocked that price down quickly once the market's indifference was noted.

 53 Edgewater

53 Edgewater

53 Edgewater Drive,Old Greenwich, closed at $1.1 million. Great street, but the one mater bedroom top, two small bedrooms below is an awkward arrangement. Then again, not every buyer is a parent of two, and as a singles for couple's house, I can understand the appeal.