Daily Archives: February 9, 2009

Kill a baby, ground a flight, it’s all the same in Global Warming Wonderland

Last week it was a call to kill a baby for mother earth. This week, Britain’s chief global warming dictator wants to ration vacations. For some odd reason, the Brits seem to go along with this nonsense – no defending yourself against burglars breaking into your home, surveillance cameras everywhere, no free speech except for muslim terrorists and on and on. Is this spinelessness contagious and can it cross the Atlantic?

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Obama lied, people died!

Just days after announcing that henceforth the new administration was going to outsource torture, the Obamas were in court today invoking the State Secrets Privilege to bar disclosure about CIA activities.  Fascist pigs! I can feel my civil liberties shrinking as I write this! I blame Cheney.

UPDATE: Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee outraged at latest acts – demands the establishment of a “Truth Commission” to uncover Obama administrations ill treatment of terrorists.

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Okay, scratch that idea, what’ll we do now?

A reader reports, “Saw Walter at Round Hill tonight. No Alzheimer’s evident. Mrs. is in Palm Beach. Not being very well received I am told. Selling the house in South Hampton. Not homesteading the PB house which is under renovation. Wouldn’t look good.”

So what’s he going to do now? Bernie’s already used the “I’m weally, weally sick” defense, and it looks as though the “I forgot” excuse was exhausted by all those Obama nominees. This intrepid reporter has found the answer.

I understand from a confidential memorandum intercepted and published for the first time here that the new Noel legal defense will be based on a theory that Walt was force fed alcohol, dropped on his head from a hotel staircase and then forced to invest with Bernie by Joaquin Taveres , the Noel’s mad Brazilian gardener. Where is that gardener now? Captured and deported single-handedly by Monica herself. What a fabulous girl!

 

It's my fault! It's aaaallllll my fault! Hahahhahhahaha!

It's my fault! It's aaaallllll my fault! Hahahhahhahaha!

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Seems it never rains in Southern California

But Girl, did they warn you? It pours, man it pours.

Collapsing real estate market finally hits high-end houses in LA.

LOS ANGELES – The Southern California real estate crash has finally reached the high-end areas of Los Angeles’ west side.

Home prices in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Malibu – which continued to soar well into 2008 – finally tanked at the end of the year, losing between 26 percent and 30 percent of their value in just a few months, the latest data show.

The sudden drop came as a surprise to Shelley Conn, who remained a believer that the wealthier parts of the area were immune until she put her Santa Monica house on the market last spring.

She and her husband had been offered $2.4 million for the three-bedroom just months before, so she listed the house for $2.3 million. But it didn’t sell until November, after the couple dropped the price to $1.9 million.

The median price of a single-family home in Beverly Hills was $2.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, down from $3 million in the second quarter, according to data by research firm MDA DataQuick. The Pacific Palisades neighborhood closed the year with a median price of $2.2 million, down from a high of $2.6 million during the second quarter, and Santa Monica’s median was $1.6 million, down from $2.1 million last winter.

The downward trend is no surprise to economist Christopher Thornberg, principal of the Los Angeles consulting firm Beacon Economics.

“It was never a function of if,” Thornberg said. “It was always when.”

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From Overlawyered.com: Alcoholic falls off staircase, sues hotel for making him drunk.

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Why we should streamline foreclosures and get a move on

Several readers have informed me that the owner of 23 West End Avenue and that crazy Victorian on S. Park Avenue, both in Old Greenwich, is stripping them of everything he can before title passes irrevocably to his lender. Stealing appliances from a spec house in foreclosure is a time-honored tradition in the building trade, although usually it’s the unpaid sub-contractors who do the stripping in an attempt to recover something for their labor. But this builder has announced that he intends to take toilets, sinks, baths, window treatments (good riddance to those) and whatever else he thinks may have value. I suppose he’ll get away with this, things being what they are and banks so busy with thousands of other foreclosures but it seems like theft to me: he gave title to the house to the bank when he obtained a mortgage and it’s the bank, not he, who owns those things.

But more germane to the subject: getting inventory off the market, this kind of behavior just mucks up the work. I was going to show that house on Park Avenue, odd design notwithstanding, because at its new price of $1.495, there might be some value there. Now I won’t. I don’t want to get even peripherally involved with some nut case who thinks that the value of a used toilet is worth risking arrest and, even if we were to strike a deal, who knows what would be left in the house at closing? I’ll wait for him to be removed, thank you, and see what happens at the auction, if that ever happens and my client’s still interested.

I also find it telling that the listing broker can’t provide assurance that a bid of the full asking price would be acceptable to whoever holds the loan because, apparently, no one from whatever institution that is will communicate with her. So you’ve got a whack job in possession of the house, threatening to strip it (having already demonstrated a willingness and ability to do just that at 23 West End Avenue), a lender who’s pulling a Garbo, and an uncertain real estate market. Repeat this strange scenario several hundred thousand times across the country and you’ll have some idea of why our current housing market’s in the mess it is. Those areas that were hit hardest earliest – California and Florida, for instance – seem to have streamlined the process of foreclosure and sales in those states are recovering. We need more of that and not a new federal taxpayer-paid program to keep defaulting borrowers in homes they can’t afford. Tomorrow’s TARP announcement, with its promise to spend billions of our money on people like the builder described here, won’t help.

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Pushing the envelope

Looking through the nine new listings announced today I’m impressed with the resilient optimism shown by so many sellers. We’ve got one house, two-years-old, in western Greenwich and asking almost $3.5 million. I’m sure it’s a great house but I would have thought this was not the right time to try for that sales level in that neighborhood. Shows what I know.

Some of the other listings might actually have been considered bargains a year or two ago but I don’t think they will now.

And reviewing the open house list for tomorrow, I continue to see houses that are, at least in my opinion, laughably overpriced and were so even in a stronger market. But these things used to sell, despite my own flawed judgment so again, what do I know? I went through last year’s sales book, distributed last week, from the cheapest sale to the most expensive and, while there were a number of houses that only sold after millions of dollars had been cut off their price, there were many that sold at or close to their listing price and even a few that went in price wars, even after the market had crumbled. One of these I wrote about last week – the new owner, winner of a bidding war, has put it back on the market for less than he paid for it and will be lucky to even approach his desired price.

Since none of the houses sold last year are worth that much now, I wonder what agents told their clients that convinced them to enter bidding wars? I mean, everyone knew that the market was plunging as early as January, 2008, didn’t they?

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