More Banking Scams
I know of two people who, having refinanced their homes, immediately began receiving a flood of junk mail from their new lenders. In both instances, buried in the tossed-away promotional material, was a demand that the lender be named as a beneficiary on the existing insurance policy. When this was ignored, the lenders proceeded to find their own insurance; in one case, at a cost of $6,800. The primary policy, which cost $1,200, would, and did name the secondary lender for free. In both instances the lenders backed off when confronted and cancelled the charges but I wonder how many loans out there have had ridiculous insurance fees tacked on to the original balance and who’s profiting from this. If our Attorney General can quit his habit of suing tobacco companies, perhaps he’ll look into this. Until then, check all junk mail you receive from your mortgage company and look at your loan balance every now and then. What you see may surprise you.

Market conditions
Contracts were down 22% in September 2007 compared to the year before, which would explain why my phone hasn’t been ringing. There are still buyers out there, of course, but mostly in the high end where mortgage scares don’t operate. I understand the fear that, if one buys now, prices may be still lower come next spring but consider that, if you have an existing house to sell that will help finance the next purchase, that price may be lower, too. While there are still too many over-priced listings out there I am seeing a number of bargains, so you might want to reacquaint yourself with your Realtor and go shopping.

Pricing
A house in northeastern Greenwich came on the market last January for $2,195,000 which, in my opinion, was not totally crazy, even if I’d have preferred to see it just under $2,000,000. It didn’t sell until last week when, several agents and many moths later, it dropped to $1,795,000. Try a high price, if you must, but if no one bites, change your mind.

Further proof of the fallacy of over-pricing, if required, can be seen in the mid-country where a house priced at $5,500,000 in January ’06 has just been reduced to $3,500,000 this week. Mind you, that’s just the new asking price and the house remains unsold. In another section of town, a house priced at $2,750,000 in May of ’06 finally dropped its price to $2,295,000 and has gone to contract, presumably at something less than its last asking price. Again: keeping a house in showing condition is a miserable thing to do and you’re suffering needlessly if you refuse to conform your asking price to the market. We’re not seeing a collapse of housing values but if you think we’re returning to 2005 price levels, I’d agree.

Fall it is acomin’ in
In the spring, the flocks of mallards on my creek split into pairs, the better to make young ducklings (check with the middle school kids in Portland, Maine’s sex education classes if you need further information). Come fall, they reunite. We’re back to flocks now and, while striped bass are still feasting on baitfish, the stripers will soon be gone and we’ll be left with only the company of our mallards. Works for me.

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