Daily Archives: April 21, 2009

Oh goodie!

Obama open to probe of government officials who approved harsh interrogation tactics. I am as shocked as anyone by the nasty treatment accorded terrorists and I want to see all who approved such procedures punished and removed from government. First up, of course, would be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who was not only told of the use of waterboarding and other persuasion techniques, she approved it and asked if we couldn’t do anything a bit rougher. 
Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002

In Meetings, Spy Panels’ Chiefs Did Not Protest, Officials Say

 

By Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen

Washington Post Staff Writers 
Sunday, December 9, 2007; Page A01

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included currentHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

I assume this probe will start just as soon as Chris Dodd and barney Frank conclude their own investigations into who took it easy on the banks.

 

"Allahu Akbar, baby!"

"Allahu Akbar, baby!"

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Oh dear, where’d Walter’s Bentley go?

 

Call me in Mustique!

Call me in Mustique!

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The majesty of the law, on wheels!

 

 

Have suit, will travel

Have suit, will travel

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Market values

A reader comments,

In Riverside, 30 Owenoke sold for $2.3 million or 22% below its peak sale price in 2006.  That’s not too bad, and certainly not 40% down as many bloggers may have wanted.  That’s also higher than its full 2005 market value assessment of $2.2 million.  So going back to 2005 prices from 2006 prices ain’t so bad after all (there was a thread on this earlier).

First of all, neither I nor any other blogger I know “wants” prices to have fallen to a  particular level – we’re just trying to give an accurate picture of what’s going on. Second, the reader misses an obvious point: the market value for 30 Owenoke was not, as the town thought, $1.5 million, but what it sold for, $2.950 (in fact, the broker originally thought it was worth $3.4 million). Houses in town in 2006 routinely sold for 2X their town-estimated market value – the average was 2.1 X. So to measure where prices have dropped to, you shouldn’t use the old assessed values as a starting point: they were just a point prices met on their way down.

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A cautionary tale

I know a very nice young couple who are thinking of listing their house in another town and have received conflicting advice. Their agent wants them to shave 10% off what they paid for it four years ago, while others tell them to list it at at least what they paid for it. I’m with their agent on this and in fact I’d recommend taking another 5% off from that. Here’s a sad tale showing why:

52 Fairfield Road, a good house on a somewhat tricky curve, sold for $2.4 million in March 2006. In March, 2007, the buyers tried reselling it for $2.9 and, having lost momentum with that kind of overpricing, rode it down through a couple of price drops until it expired, unsold. It’s back on today, this time at $2.150 million. That’s a good price and I hope they get it, but I suspect they’d have sold their house for more and moved on sooner had they priced it more realistically to begin with.

In this market, the only buyers are bargain hunters. Pricing your house for what you paid for it says, in effect, that you are determined not to take a hit , and that scares bargain hunters off – they wantyou to take a hit -   that’s how they know they’re getting a bargain. Harsh, but don’t forget, you’ll be doing exactly the same thing to whoever is selling the next house you want.

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Not all rumors are false

36 Andrews Farm

36 Andrews Farm

I was told last week that this beautiful, custom-built house asking $9.250 million had an accepted offer and by gosh, it’s reported today as under contract. It’s only been on the market 78 days so I’d assume asking and getting are pretty close. Good house, good location, smart price all still seem to work. That’s nice to know.

UPDATE: thanks to reader “Lisa”, I see that this was originally listed with 8 acres for $12.75 kmillion. They carved off 4 acres or else listed it in the alternative (impossible to tell because the broker deleted the first listing) and it now shows as a 4 acre property that was always priced at $9.25. That’s an intere3sting assignment of value for a building lot, but whatever.

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Breaking news from March

Greenwich Time has caught up with the second price reduction on the Helmsley place today,just six weeks or so after it happened. No rush, though, as this property will linger for years, I suspect. After all, even if you could afford it, would you want the national press attention you’d receive were you to buy such a prominent piece of real estate? Not until the A.I.G. kerfuffle dies down.

I did love Russ Pruner’s (deliberate? Ironic?) echo of the listing broker’s famous quote,”How do you price a piece of art?” We know that at least in this case, the art appraiser missed by at least $50 million. Oh well.

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Shocking news from Rick’s Place

Senator Feinstein steers $25 billion of federal business to hubby’s firm.

On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband’s real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.

Mrs. Feinstein’s intervention on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was unusual: the California Democrat isn’t a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with jurisdiction over FDIC; and the agency is supposed to operate from money it raises from bank-paid insurance payments – not direct federal dollars.

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