Daily Archives: April 30, 2009

Brought to you by your government and the UAW

 

Italian idea of a car

Italian idea of a car

Older readers may remember the FIAT, which was run out of this country in 1978 or so because even Americans used to Detroit junk wouldn’t buy the horrible things. Poor quality was legendary – FIAT’s parting gift to these shores was the Yugo and the technology was so dated it made Renault look like a modern car company. renault, too, had to quit town, after running full page ads apologizing for bringing their cars here but explaining that, in France, people “like tinkering with their cars on weekends” and they thought Americans would too.

So now we have a failed Italian company coming to the rescue of a failed American one, all subsidized by us taxpayers and run by the auto union. This is change, all right, but I see little hope.

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I blame global warming

Diners report seeing Virgin Mary on food griddle

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Chrysler bailout – a very bad idea

As this WSJ blogger  points out, Chrysler is bankrupt for the very good reason that they build awful cars

Did you watch the president’s press conference on Chrysler? It had an unhappy, foreboding air. No standing American president should be opining that the Chrysler-Fiat alliance has a “strong chance of success” or urging Americans to buy Dodge minivans.

These promises are beneath the president’s office. And they set Obama up to throw good money after bad.

It’s not like the president and the taxpayers are backing a business that’s on the cusp of greatness. Chrysler is bankrupt for a reason — in fact, lots of reasons from sub-scale production to a dependence on poor credit customers to a lousy product line-up.

Last night, after being accused by several Mean Street readers of not knowing enough about Chrysler’s line-up, I did more research in Consumer Reports. It was even worse than I thought.

Here was CR: “Many Chrysler vehicles rank at the bottom of our ratings in their categories and none currently meet our requirements for being recommended. Even most newer models have been mediocre in our tests.”

How will the president compel Americans to buy these cars? Especially in the two years it takes for Chrysler to churn out any Fiat originated product?

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It’s official: Marisa Noel’s NYC cottage is available

Just $11.5 million. I always recommend to buyers that we do a little digging on a seller to find out if, say, they’re under any pressure to sell. That would probably pay dividends in this case.

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Madoff market-making unit sold for $25 million

That’s $10 million more than originally bid, but quite a bit less than the “hundreds of millions” Bernie himself said the company was worth. Of course, Bernie had some difficulty estimating the value of a number of his assets.

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(Some) Hedge fund managers shrugged

Three hedge funds owed money by Chrysler rejected the government’s effort to force them to accept the Chrysler bailout deal. Obama’s furious.

A person at a hedge-fund firm that owns Chrysler loans, speaking anonymously, told Dow Jones Newswires that the difference between what loanholders would get in bankruptcy and out of bankruptcy wasn’t that much, meaning the non-TARP lenders are making a political statement more than anything.

“Are they taking reputational risk for pennies?” asked the person. “Do the math on the recovery levels. It doesn’t make sense for them to have held out for purely economic value.”

Good for them.

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Senate rejects mortgage cram downs

The bill, which passed the House by a huge majority, would have given bankruptcy judges the power to reset mortgage rates and principle amounts. The Senate will no doubt be accused of caving in to the banking interests but the argument against was that it would add uncertainty to mortgages and where there’s uncertainty, there’s risk, which means higher interest rates for everyone. Makes sense to me, but we all know I’m a tool of Wall Street.

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As though Obama doesn’t have enough on his plate

General Petraeus warns of disastrous results if Pakistan falls to Taliban – could happen in two weeks. Petraeus has always struck me as a pretty cool dude so if he’s worried, so am I.

(Hat Tip, Instapundit)

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This would stop threats from angry drunk builders but it seems a tad overbroad

Our government at work: bill proposed to expand law against internet users, this time to make it a felony to cause severe emotional distress. Seems like a lot of home sellers in greenwich could have a cause of action against me if this becomes law.

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(From Just One Minute)

They told me that if I voted for McCain I’d have an idiot for a Vice President and they were right!

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Fan mail from Alabama

Owed you an email for a month or so to say thank you.

My parents/family owned a condominium west of  Pensacola, Florida for 20+ years which we sold in March ’09 – after reading your blog I realized how important list pricing is in the real estate world and your blog convinced us to be realistic sellers in a tough 2nd home market.

Realtor suggested a sales metric of $325 square foot (and my limited research confirmed his numbers) – which we used and rounded up (as the units rarely trade in this building) got an offer in 40 days, closed in fewer than 90 days after listing! – our sales price was at 90%~ of listing (pre commission) but delighted it’s sold. Maybe sold too fast, but in a buyers market we’re overjoyed to avoid the monthly fees and assorted expenses.  FYI we doubled the purchase price from original acquisition in late 1980’s.

I’m stock and bond salesman for a regional brokerage and given the past 18 months in the ‘business’ we are in much better shape now help my aging parents through their last few years.

Cheers and thanks again

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Seller’s remorse?

Just had a proposed deal founder over a 7% difference between what my buyers’ mortgage lender had approved and what the sellers “needed” for their house. I understand: just as buyers hit a ceiling and can go no higher, sellers can have a floor. But my guess is that these sellers may regret their choice because, while my buyers will just move on and find another house, the sellers will still have a house they no longer want. For how long? maybe just the weekend, maybe longer.

This month 23 single family houses went to contract, qa distinct improvement from last month’s 12,but a far cry from April 2007’s 74. Of the 23, eight have already sold so I have their actual closing prices. Those eight sold from a low of 41% of the original asking price to a high of 90% (37 Andrews farm Road, if you’re interested). Average: 69% of original asking price. And, while I can’t tell the final price for those houses under contract, every single one of them sold for less than ask and many of them were way, way off their original price before they found a buyer.

So our happy home seller will pass up a definite sale now in the hope of achieving 6.8% more down the road. He may get that – the statistics suggest otherwise.

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How much will quality building bring?

147 Hendrie Ave. Rvsd
147 Hendrie Ave. Rvsd

This new spec house by York Builders came on today at $4.250 million. York is a great builder and this is bound to be a fine house, but with what I guess is 5,000 sq. ft. above ground and just 1/3 of a hillside acre, I’m not sure that the quality of construction or the presence of Binney Park down the street will stir buyers into action at this price. But we will see. York must expect a faster turn around in our market than I do.

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Sales, price reductions

136 Cat Rock, that bank-owned flop originally listed in 2006 for $3.665 million, sold today for $1.505. I think they still overpaidm, but the 70% assessment shows $1.606, so perhaps the buyer did alright.

18 Baliwoods, originally listed in 2007 for $1.875 million, sold today for $1.125. Both these houses should serve as an example for sellers determined to hold out for their desired price. That’s what these owners did and ended up with far less (or nothing, in the case of cat Rock) than they could have had two or three years ago. Holding on for a better market does not guanantee that a better market will arrive.

Perhaps the builders of 6 Loading Rock Road in Riverside are learning this. They price3d thie project at $3.695 million in January 2008 when the market was already several months into its swan dive and have sat on it ever since. Today it was marked down to $2.650 million. And it still hasn’t sold, so there’s more room where that came from.

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Swine flu Cure

Let us love you until you learn to love yourself

Let us love you until you learn to love yourself

Exciting news for all readers who have been concerned about the swine flu pandemic sweeping the world and threatening your loved ones. This blogger has teamed up with none other than our regular contributor Walter Noel and offer, for the first time, an absolutely fool-proof remedy and vaccine against those vicious bugs. Walt has taken his extensive experience with equine virus and merged his knowledge with that of Dr. Koolabumbha Nokeses, Nigeria’s most famous witch doctor. Now everyone in your family can be protected against harm and, if you wish, Dr. Nokeses can redirect the flu to your enemies. This is a limited offer so send your banking information before midnight tonight c/o Walt on Mustique. His representatives will contact you.

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Every then and now

1 Stonehedge
1 Stonehedge

Sold 7/95: $700,000

Sold 4/09: $900,000
Chris Fountain tax assessment rule of thumb rule: 70% : $886,000

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Down down down

Buyers are swarming – my pal Frank and I have a ton of them, all looking for – surprise! – bargains. In the meantime, sellers are maybe getting a tad more realistic, slowly. As they do, we’ll start seeing sales.

11 Juniper
11 Juniper

This house, on the Stamford border but still in Greenwich, asked $5.3 million back in 2002 and sold for $4.3 that November (over-pricing is not a new phenomenon in Greenwich). Back on the market at below 2002 prices, asking $4.2.

And 31 Sound Beach Avenue sold in a bidding war back in 2006 for $1,000,100 (ask was $1.095) . Today it’s up for sale at $1.075. Acceptance of a loss is the first step toward recovery.

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