Why can't we find a non-crappy house for $500k-$600k in lower Fairfield County, CT?


By FMR Tenant in Foreclosed House   Follow   Wed, 1 Jun 2011, 12:50pm   3,017 views   36 comments
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Yes, Greenwich & Darien have $15 million homes, but they also have lots of 3-br, 1,250 sq. ft. homes that are, frankly, dumps and are very expensive. All homes in the $500s need at least $150k worth of work (like major tree work, new roof, new kitchen, paint jobs, leaks), have major flaws like mildewy basements (or no basement because it is adjacent to a swamp), only one bathroom, rotting wood, no garage, no attic.

Shouldn't fixer-uppers cost $450k?

Is it because underwater sellers are trapped in their houses and can't put them on the market? Are they living for free and have no incentive to sell?

Do short sales really exist?

Some of the area's larger towns have social problems which make those high schools less desirable, so this nuclear family with two young kids is taking them off the table. (Private schools cost $25-$45k per year.)

Ridgefield is too far from civilization (ga$ prices in Conn. are among the nation's highest), has much higher taxes than Greenwich, Darien or Westport and its school budget is being cut (with more to come next year?).

Nearby Westchester County, NY's taxes are much, much higher.

AP says "Cities that weathered housing bust now suffering - Cities that had escaped the worst of housing bust are hurting now". Does anyone expect banker-central (Fairfield County CT and Westchester County, NY) to drop anytime soon?

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  1. HousingWatcher


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    1   1:01pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    You are in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country and you want a cheap house? Sorry, but your simply not going to find what your looking for in that area.

  2. Done!


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    2   1:03pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    tenant in foreclosed house says

    Shouldn’t fixer-uppers cost $450k?

    Hell NO! They should cost $79K

    People it's a house! Not a nest egg.

  3. HousingWatcher


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    3   1:05pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Try Nassau County. It's a drop cheaper than Westchester.

  4. FMR Tenant in Foreclosed House


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    4   1:09pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    No wonder I-95 and the Merritt Parkway are so snarled up all the time -- all those office support-staff workers and retail workers in Stamford & Greenwich have to commute from far away.

    It is amazing to me that there are so many people who will pay $700k for a tiny, tiny moldy dump. (or won't they, as in, will they still do that going forward?)

  5. edvard2


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    5   1:22pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Wow. well you're certainly not paying for the weather for those kinds of prices.

  6. uffthefluff


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    6   1:48pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    move!

  7. FMR Tenant in Foreclosed House


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    7   2:04pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    uffthefluff says

    move!

    Easy for you to say. I'm luckily employed, working here in lower Fairfield county, and the job market is a bit tight.

  8. FortWayne


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    8   2:09pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    tenant in foreclosed house says

    Easy for you to say. I’m luckily employed, working here in lower Fairfield county, and the job market is a bit tight.

    well if job market isn't great, than most people probably don't make enough to support ballooned prices, therefore just wait it out.

    Besides you live in a foreclosed house, doesn't cost you a penny to be there.

  9. edvard2


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    9   2:10pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    Well... If you don't plan on moving, consider renting. We're in the same boat in that we live in the Bay Area where houses are still like $450k-$500k or so for a starter home that isn't a hellhole of a commute away. We've been renting for 11 years, love the house we rent, and pay about 1/3rd to 1/4th the cost of buying the same home. We'll likely move to a cheaper state eventually but for now renting is fine. In the meantime we're saving a ton of cash.

  10. FortWayne


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    10   2:14pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    edvard2 says

    Well… If you don’t plan on moving, consider renting. We’re in the same boat in that we live in the Bay Area where houses are still like $450k-$500k or so for a starter home that isn’t a hellhole of a commute away. We’ve been renting for 11 years, love the house we rent, and pay about 1/3rd to 1/4th the cost of buying the same home. We’ll likely move to a cheaper state eventually but for now renting is fine. In the meantime we’re saving a ton of cash.

    I'm seeing a lot of that pattern lately. People rent and move to a cheaper area later buying all cash and living very comfortably.

  11. FMR Tenant in Foreclosed House


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    11   2:16pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    ChrisLA says

    Besides you live in a foreclosed house, doesn’t cost you a penny to be there

    Actually, we do pay rent. Our landlord is pocketing it. I know, it is crazy.

  12. FMR Tenant in Foreclosed House


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    12   2:18pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Renting a single family home here is NOT cheaper than owning. I'm pretty sure of that. There are very few single-family houses for rent here anyway. [edited to correct double negative]

  13. wtfcapinv


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    13   2:51pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Home school until prices come down.

  14. edvard2


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    14   3:53pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    tenant in foreclosed house says

    Renting a single family home here is NOT cheaper than owning. I’m pretty sure of that. There aren’t very few single-family houses for rent here anyway.

    I'm not sure of the situation in Conn, but here in Cali you can most definitely rent for a lot cheaper than buying.

  15. seaside


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    15   4:34pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    tenant in foreclosed house says

    Renting a single family home here is NOT cheaper than owning. I’m pretty sure of that. There aren’t very few single-family houses for rent here anyway.

    Most wealthy east coast counties that are close to major cities/job centers are like that. It is not suprising at all to hear that, especially for half descent SFH or townhome.

  16. xenogear3


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    16   5:18pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Weather has nothing to do with the house price.

    Just look at New York City, Beijing, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
    Which one has good weather?

  17. DrKnowNothing


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    17   5:24pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    In the NYC area, think of where these traits overlap:

    1. commuting distance to Manhattan, ideally by train
    2. good public schools
    3. lower state taxes

    Greenwich, New Canaan, Darian... Did I miss any?

    The large number of people seeking out these small areas of overlap will keep prices ridiculous.

  18. corntrollio


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    18   5:29pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    DrKnowNothing says

    Greenwich

    Glad to see this douchebag bankster is having trouble selling his house in Greenwich -- now at $15.95M, down from $31M. He originally bought it for $19M and put "a couple mill" in. He's not hurting, of course, except for his pride:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-24/greenwich-s-priciest-homes-languish-with-four-years-of-inventory-on-market.html

    That said, I'm not really sure what the OP is complaining about. Duh, it's Fairfield County.

  19. FMR Tenant in Foreclosed House


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    19   6:17pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    corntrollio says

    That said, I’m not really sure what the OP is complaining about. Duh, it’s Fairfield County.

    Not complaining. Just can't believe that the price these run-down dumps are still so high and wonder if people will continue to buy them -- not just the ones that were neglected (why were they neglected? during the bubble, improvements were effectively free!) but even the ones that cannot be fixed up (like the ones adjacent to a swamp with water in the basement and that mildew smell throughout).

    Can't believe that someone who can afford a $800k house is willing to live like that. Mercedes parked outside to boot.

    The prices of these houses have come down some, but I would have thought they still had more reductions in store.

  20. Ignatius Pugg


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    20   6:47pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I am a frustrated renter in Westchester (where we fled from Brooklyn $$$$$). All I can say is that if my in-laws weren't living here we would be getting the ef out. I think there is just too much wealth in this area and home prices are well beyond the point of absurdity. The banksters keep winning and whatever they don't buy gets sucked up by trust funded europeans.

  21. APOCALYPSEFUCKisShostikovitch


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    21   6:50pm Wed 1 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    Welcome to America!

    You are Free to pick your parents!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  22. HousingWatcher


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    22   10:01am Thu 2 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Did someone say that Connecticut has lower taxes than NY?

    Bucking Trend, Connecticut Budget Deal Raises Taxes, Gasoline Excepted

    Driving against traffic in an antitax era, Connecticut lawmakers appear poised to approve a two-year, $40.2 billion budget that includes $1.5 billion in increased taxes on income, corporations and an array of purchases and services, from yachts to yoga classes.

    The budget would increase marginal tax rates on incomes over $100,000 for joint filers, $50,000 for single filers and married people filing separately, and $80,000 for heads of households.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/nyregion/tax-increases-stand-out-in-connecticut-budget-deal.html

  23. FMR Tenant in Foreclosed House


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    23   10:52am Thu 2 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    HousingWatcher says

    Did someone say that Connecticut has lower taxes than NY?

    No. We said that Greenwich, Darien & Westport have very low property taxes and that Westchester County's property taxes are generally much higher than Fairfield County's.

  24. batakdepores


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    24   12:44pm Thu 2 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    The difference between Greenwich/Darien vs. Westchester/Nassau County is that those who live in crappy houses in the former can afford to live in it longer because of the relatively MUCH cheaper property tax than those who live in crappy homes in the latter.

    Therefore, the argument of those crappy homes in Greenwich/Darien is that most of asking price is "land value."

    The sad part is that, even if I can find $100K land in Scarsdale and build a $400K house, I can't still afford to live there because of the high property tax. Now imagine you're a retiree/empty nester, it's no longer make sense for you to live in a single family home in Scarsdale unless you have a Trust Fund to help you pay taxes.

    The same situation in Greenwich, on the other hand, is affordable, but there is no such thing as $100K land unless you're talking about Byram Section.

    As for Tenant in Foreclosed House, I have the same frustration but I'm pursuing an alternative. You can email me.

  25. corntrollio


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    25   12:52pm Thu 2 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    batak says

    The difference between Greenwich/Darien vs. Westchester/Nassau County is that those who live in crappy houses in the former can afford to live in it longer because of the relatively MUCH cheaper property tax than those who live in crappy homes in the latter.

    Therefore, the argument of those crappy homes in Greenwich/Darien is those most of asking price is “land value.”

    I believe what batak is saying is that property tax costs can be internalized in property values to reflect cost of ownership. If property taxes are low, property values may be higher to compensate, and vice versa. The total cost of ownership may be similar, so in order to compare apples to apples, you need to consider all costs of ownership, instead of only the most obvious factor which is house price.

    Similarly, in California, Prop 13 keeps property tax artificially low for long holding periods, to the point where Prop 13 causes property values to be inflated to account for this savings. Younger generations effectively pay upfront for this long-term benefit.

    Another example: The mortgage interest deduction is actually incorporated into the price of homes. If we removed the mortgage interest deduction tomorrow, the housing prices would slowly adjust downward (because the housing market is illiquid and sticky) to compensate for the loss of the deduction. So yes, you get a "discount," but the price you pay for the house is already higher to account for this discount.

    This happens with a variety of factors.

  26. batakdepores


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    26   1:06pm Thu 2 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    I'm at aol.com

  27. PasadenaNative


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    27   4:39pm Sat 4 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    John Bailo says

    The question is…why are you in Fairfield County?
    Move…go someplace normal…find a regular town in a regular state where you can easily afford a house.
    Have some kids.
    Get a dog.
    Pay off the mortgage in five years.
    Take vacations in the “Woody” and go fishing with your offspring.
    http://jabailo.tumblr.com

    You are weird!

  28. B.A.C.A.H.


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    28   6:01pm Sat 4 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I hafta agree with bubba on that one.

    Whine, whine, whine....

    So the cost of living is high in Cool and Hip NYC posh burbs?

    If I wanted to hear whining like that I would just watch some (senator) Barbara Boxer stuff on youtube.

  29. FortWayne


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    29   10:33am Sun 5 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    tenant in foreclosed house says

    ChrisLA says

    Besides you live in a foreclosed house, doesn’t cost you a penny to be there

    Actually, we do pay rent. Our landlord is pocketing it. I know, it is crazy.

    you dont have to pay. if it is foreclosed than he is not the owner and therefore you do not owe him any rent.

    he cant evict you if he does not own the place.

  30. FMR Tenant in Foreclosed House


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    30   5:40am Mon 6 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    ChrisLA says

    ChrisLA says

    Besides you live in a foreclosed house, doesn’t cost you a penny to be there

    Actually, we do pay rent. Our landlord is pocketing it. I know, it is crazy.

    you dont have to pay. if it is foreclosed than he is not the owner and therefore you do not owe him any rent.

    he cant evict you if he does not own the place.

    Chris LA is providing wrong information. Connecticut is a judicial foreclosure state and can take years to finalize the foreclosure process. Landlord has title and can evict for non payment of rent.

  31. FMR Tenant in Foreclosed House


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    31   5:46am Mon 6 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    John Bailo says

    he question is…why are you in Fairfield County?

    Move…go someplace normal…find a regular town in a regular state where you can easily afford a house.

    Have some kids.

    Get a dog.

    Pay off the mortgage in five years.

    Take vacations in the “Woody” and go fishing with your offspring.

    sybrib says

    hafta agree with bubba on that one.

    Whine, whine, whine….

    So the cost of living is high in Cool and Hip NYC posh burbs?

    If I wanted to hear whining like that I would just watch some (senator) Barbara Boxer stuff on youtube.

    Is is not just about the house - it is also about the town with its high-quality schools (a value you may not share?), diversity, very low crime rate, town services, town beach, parks and the career opportunities that come with living near several job centers, including White Plains, Stamford, New York City, and even New Haven. The schools in many "regular" places in this country are, unfortunately, creating an ignorant populace.

    Oh, by the way, our roots are here -- family, friends, networks... the things that keep the fabric of communities strong.

  32. seaside


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    32   6:08am Mon 6 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    CT is not CA. Well, this blog is pretty much CA-centric, and just can't ask californians understand what's going on in the east. Heck, I am in the east and still don't know much about CT. It's not their fault, yours or mine either.

    As I told you above, pretty much all good counties arround the city are like that. some specific zipcodes in fairfax county VA, where I have my eyes on, are like that too. The reason I like those few specific area is the same with yours. Quality schools, low crime rate, the quality of neighborhood, and close proximity to the highway. But, I guess what I think important is important to others too. And that's why the home price in certain area won't go down. Rent is also quite high. So what are you gonna do about it? "it's crazy" and sure it is. But screaming it out doesn't help much. It's either take it or leave it sort of thing. For me, I am going to keep up with my saving and see what's gonna happen. If home price go down, good for me. If not, well... but I still have more buying power due to the saving.

  33. FMR Tenant in Foreclosed House


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    33   6:38am Mon 6 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    seaside says

    CT is not CA.

    Also, unlike, perhaps, California, school systems in Connecticut are mostly locally funded (unless they are really bad).

  34. zzyzzx


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    34   9:26am Mon 6 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    tenant in foreclosed house says

    Shouldn’t fixer-uppers cost $450k?

    They should cost a lot less than that.

  35. seaside


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    35   11:23am Mon 6 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (2)  

    zzyzzx says

    They should cost a lot less than that.

    But that's not baltimore either. ;-)

    tenant in foreclosed house says

    Also, unlike, perhaps, California, school systems in Connecticut are mostly locally funded (unless they are really bad).

    So, is it like NJ? What about police, fire dept etc? Are they locally funded too?

  36. corntrollio


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    36   12:38pm Mon 6 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    tenant in foreclosed house says

    Connecticut is a judicial foreclosure state and can take years to finalize the foreclosure process.

    Actually, Connecticut also has strict foreclosure. But yes, its foreclosures by sale are judicial only.

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