Daily Archives: July 24, 2008

Untold tales
I just went on Zillow.com’s website to see what they’re up to and noticed a house for sale (by owner) located at 12 Lockwood Road in Riverside and asking, according to Zillow, $6,000,000. Zillow estimates its worth at $2,566,000 and I think even that figure’s high. The current owners paid $2,305,000 for it in March of last year and apparently have done nothing to it, so what gives? Is this seller insanity or an error by Zillow? If it’s Zillow’s fault, the owner ought to check his bait more often. If the seller himself set the price, it only serves as a demonstration of why some objective advice can sometimes be a good thing.

Update
As a commentator notes below, this is a Zillow feature called “make me move”, which is, as he or she says, a “pie in the sky” price placed on it by the owner w/o any intention of actually placing it on the market. Good thing, too, because,as I saw in another Zillow listing, it looks like these owners aren’t going anywhere soon. I do wonder, though, at Zillow’s own calculation of value. The owner of 16 Willow Road’s “make me move” price is $3,995,000, which ain’t gonna happen; Zillow’s own estimate is $3,600,000 and that’s not reality either, in my opinion. 2 Willow, a more modern house, sold for $3,100,000, in a better market. If you’re selling moving services, don’t bother with these guys.

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Our man in Washington
There’s an interesting discussion going on in the comments section of the previous post concerning Wall Street, Washington and in general, pigs at the trough. In the meantime, the question of Senator Chris Dodd coming up, I thought to confirm my suspicion that his “presidential nomination campaign” served as nothing more than a sop to his ego and a sponge for the campaign contributions he could solicit (or extort) because of his position as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. As for ego, there’s no doubt that every boy and girl serving in the Senate believes, deep down, that he’s qualified to be President. But it takes an ego of truly gargantuan dimensions to act on that belief when polls list you at 1% voter recognition. That didn’t stop Dodd, of course, particularly when he could indulge his aspirations at the expense of the financial community he regulates. Sure enough, the senator put the touch on his new best friends. Try this or, for a general overview from years past (I believe this latter doesn’t include his presidential campaign contributions, which are tabulated separately) this.

Dodd learned from his father, of course, that direct solicitation of bribes leads to trouble, but squeezing folks you can choose to put out of business, well that’s just Washington politics. Years ago, William F. Buckley pointed out that our Senator from New London regularly voted against every single defense appropriation except those supporting new nuclear submarines. It’s certainly possible, as Buckley posited, that the senator truly believed that the only weapon that could protect our nation from its enemies was the nuclear sub. On the other hand, cynics might be forgiven for suspecting that the man was just a hollow, greedy shill who looked out for his interests and his interests only. I was one of those cynics oh so long ago and I’ve never changed my opinion.

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Wall Street hearts Fannie Mae
Good article here in Bloomberg News concerning the pending bailout of Fannie Mae. It starts out with the rather typical cautionary tale of a borrower seduced by a sub-prime lender and her eventual rescue by her friendly government bank, but then proceeds to discuss, or at least touch upon, the various scandals, fraudulent accounting and other difficulties that have plagued this entity. Why does Jamie Diamon, head of JP Morgan Chase, love Fannie Mae? Why did Warren Buffet dump all his holdings of its stock three years ago? You really should explore some of the Wall Street Journal editorials that condemned Fannie Mae over the past decade for a full understanding but essentially, Jamie Diamon and his ilk could make a lot of money peddling crap and unloading it on Fannie Mae and Mr. Buffet has different standards. Of course, when you add in the cash contributions Fannie Mae made to Chris Dodd and his cronies over the years, it’s hardly surprising that this fraud was permitted to operate for so long. And will continue to do so, apparently – just ask The Journal.

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