11/14/2014: WSJ: What Happens When Your Husband Buys a House Without Telling You

I had to blog this article from The Wall Street Journal you guys.  Guys just buying properties with their brains turned off.  Let’s start with the case of Cliff & Faith Zelenko shall we?

Cliff Zelenko

Faith Zelenko ’s husband, Cliff, called her at work one day to tell her there was something he wanted to show her. That night, he took her to a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “Cliff opens the door and says, ‘This is your new home,’ ” recalled Ms. Zelenko. “I was, like, are you kidding me? You’re joking, right?” Then she burst into tears.

RP.com: Cliff you’re lucky Faith didn’t just serve you papers.  The old “I want to show you something line” hasn’t worked since college.


To surprise her for her 40th birthday, Mabel Simpson ’s husband, Hugh, bought a 1930s home in Richardson, Texas. “When I saw that it was a signed contract, it practically gave me a heart attack,” Ms. Simpson said. The two had looked at the dilapidated house a few months earlier, but Ms. Simpson thought it was out of their price range and needed too much renovation.

RP.com: What’s your deal, Hugh?  Mabel already said no.  You think this is gonna make for a good story down at the club?  Yeah — place is a total dump and my wife hates it but I bought it anyway.  Hugh this is earth. Come in Hugh.


While Betty Ryberg was away on a girls’ trip to the beach, her husband, Greg, went to a foreclosure auction to look for commercial-property investments in their hometown of Aiken, S.C. Instead, he walked out of the auction with a $995,000 carriage house he’d never set foot in.  Afterward, he called his wife and nervously told her “I bought a house,” Ms. Ryberg recalled. “It was like an ‘I-ran-into-your-car’ kind of voice.”

RP.com: You know what Greg?  Betty was probably having a really nice girl’s trip at the beach until you called.  You’re lucky she came home.  To you and that stupid carriage house.

LA building

Motasem Khashoggi, a lawyer who lives in Saudi Arabia, knew his wife, Samah, loved Los Angeles and had “always dreamed of having a place there.” For their 20th anniversary, he signed a contract on a 17th-floor condo at the Carlyle Residences in Westwood for nearly $4 million—unbeknown to his wife.  In July, when the family was visiting L.A., he took his wife and kids to the apartment and showed them around, then handed his wife the keys. “It was a big risk,” Mr. Khashoggi said. “If she hadn’t liked it or thought we should spend the money otherwise, it would have been an embarrassing situation.”

RP.com: Uh – no shit Motasem – could have been real embarrassing.  I can practically see Samah rolling her eyes.  And in front of the kids too!  Motasem, Motasem, Motasem.

11/14/2014: What’s up with the vacant lot in W. Newton?

You know this vacant lot in W. Newton?  The one at the corner of Elm & Border that should be a bakery, restaurant, gentleman’s club, something…

111 Elm St

Well I did some digging on this you guys.  Here’s the scoop (according to the internet):

There are 3 parcels of land at the corner of Elm & Border St that were owned by Constantine Taleas.  115 Elm is the Mango Thai building.  111 Elm & 8 Border are the 2 vacant lots next door.  In the fall of 2011, Constantine got approval from the city to build a 3 story building with 3 commercial spaces on the 1st floor and 4 apartments above on the vacant lots.  Unfortunately, Constantine died on December 16th, 2011.

The property has been vacant since.  According to Ted Hess Mahan (Alderman for Ward 3), the Taleas family applied for an extension in 2013.  They have since secured financing and a builder and hope to break ground soon.  It looked like there was some activity on the site today.  No word on who the commercial tenants will be, but really hoping Keltic Krust makes a comeback.

Whew — that was a super-serious blog that involved some research.  Feel like I just need to say you guys, you guys, you guys a bunch of times and be done with it.


11/13/2014: How to handle trees between your sidewalk & the street

Guest blog from Ken at #146 you guys.  Good stuff about trees.

Early this past summer, I saw black carpenter ants wandering up and down the tree in front of our house (and even across the street to the tree on the other side). I called the City and found that since the tree in question is on the berm between the sidewalk and the street, it’s really the city’s tree, and they’ll take care of it as needed. Well, the guy from the Forestry dept (part of Parks & Recreation, as far as I can tell) told me a big chunk of the tree was unhealthy (we could see inside a major split of a large arm of the tree). The arm in question was over the front yard, so it likely wouldn’t have dropped on my car or in the street – but no point in waiting to see. Since I hadn’t heard anything more, including any timeframe for the work, I called them again a few weeks ago. This seemed to remind them of the attention it needed.

Ken's tree
Newton contracted with Northern Tree Service. Two guys, 2 trucks, couple hours on Tuesday morning last week, and the suspect arm of the tree was no more. And I had a couple hundred pounds of wood to season for burning next winter. Simple! So: gentle reminder, if you have questions about the health of a tree between your sidewalk and the street, don’t shell out your own money to treat it, call the city of Newton first.
Ken's tree2

11/12/2014: Oil to gas conversion on Randlett

An oil to gas conversion is underway on upper Randlett.  The homeowner, herein after referred to as Guy, is having the following work done:

  • Ripping out old oil furnace and oil tank.  Replacing with gas HVAC system with centrail air.
  • Ripping out hot water heater and replacing with tankless hot water system.
  • Upgrading electrical panel from 100 to 200 amps.

Guy already has gas in the house — so they won’t have to bring in a new gas line from the street.  Contractors are telling Guy the job will be done in 2 days.  Guy says maybe 3. Mass Save rebates total $1,100 — according to Guy.

Here’s the before shot.  Check out this old oil furnace — looks like one of Bill Gate’s first computers or like a giant hotel ice maker.  Hope to have an after shot for you guys on Friday.