Daily Archives: December 17, 2009

Problem, solution

There was an environmental forum in town Tuesday (?) night and while I’m delighted I missed it, I see that at least one resident has a concern we can answer.

Laura Yerkovitch, who recently moved to Riverside from New York City … expressed concern about deer overpopulation and its relationship to the prevalence of Lyme disease.

Laura, welcome to Riverside, where, astonishingly, we do have a deer population. Unfortunately, the deer rifle is just too powerful to use in this crowded neck of the woods, as its bullets can travel for miles, but a modern rifled-barrel slug gun is perfect – the slug drops approximately 8′ over 100 yards and is in the dirt by 150. Right now, their use isn’t allowed in Greenwich but if you care to lead the charge, I’ll be (safely) right behind you.

Boids. Dirty, stinkin' boids - with hooves!

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Oh golly gee, a leaked memo on global warming that says we’re all f****d

Warmists have released a super secret, double-dare probation memo to the UN chief that says, even if everything the warmists want accomplished is passed in Copenhegan we’re still doomed. Great. Because we can’t afford to do what the Copenhagenists want without destroying the western world’s economy and if we really have to do twice that (I presume by committing mass suicide) to have the necessary effect then forget it; let’s call the whole thing off, and go home.

UPDATE: Best comment on the Times article linked to (The Times refused to publish the Climategate emails because they were pilfered): “I thought the NYT and DotEarth wouldn’t publish “stolen” documents?”

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$ Million plus mortgages now defaulting at 12%, twice the rate of smaller ones

The richer you are, the better advice you can afford, I guess.

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) — Homeowners with mortgages of more than $1 million aredefaulting at almost twice the U.S. rate and some are turning to so-called short sales to unload properties as stock-market losses and pay cuts squeeze wealthy borrowers.

“The rich aren’t as rich as they used to be,” said Alex Rodriguez, a Miami real estate agent with JM Group USA Inc., whose listings include a $2.9 million property marketed as a short sale because the price is less than the mortgage, leaving the bank with a loss. “People have reached the point where they can’t afford the carrying expenses of a $2 million home.”

Payments on about 12 percent of mortgages exceeding $1 million were 90 days or more overdue in September, compared with 6.3 percent on loans less than $250,000 and 7.4 percent on all U.S. mortgages, according to data from First American CoreLogic Inc., a Santa Ana, California-based research firm. The rate for mortgages above $1 million was 4.7 percent a year earlier.

As defaults on the biggest mortgages rise, borrowers such as Steve Holzknecht are turning to short sales to exit loans that now are larger than the market value of the house. In such a transaction, the lender agrees to accept less than a 100 percent payoff on a mortgage to expedite the property’s sale.

Holzknecht, 53, last month cut the asking price for his 7,280-square-foot home in Kirkland, Washington, by $550,000 to $1.25 million, lower than the balances of his two mortgages. Holzknecht, the former owner of Four Suns Inc., a Seattle luxuryhomebuilder that went out of business two months ago, constructed the Craftsman-style home in 2000. He declined to identify his lenders or the amount he owes.

Common Plight

“It’s not uncommon to see this situation on the high end of the market — homes selling for less than it would cost to build them,” said Holzknecht’s agent, Joe Flick of Roanoke Group in Seattle. The property came on the market eight months ago priced at $1.85 million, he said.

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Green Demolitions

I’ve mentioned these folks several times before but if you need a reminder and are thinking about redoing your kitchen, this is quite possibly the best way to go. Great stuff, for practically nothing. If you want to sell, for instance, and don’t want to put $100,000 into updating your kitchen (which you shouldn’t) here’s the answer. Or just stay put and enjoy someone else’s change of mind. Custom cabinets, granite counters, top-of-the-line appliances, all slightly used but in great shape, going for less than you’d tip your favorite realtor this Christmas (you are going to do that, aren’t you?)

Green Demolitions

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All that hot air and still it snows

Shovel ve must der solar panels, jah?

Blizzard hits Copenhagen. Forecast:  first white Christmas in 14 years.

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Welcome to Greenwich, sucker

We're on it!

Email from a client who has become a friend. Sorry, pal, I forgot to mention the professionalism of our police force when selling you that house; you’ll get used to it.

My alarm goes off today and I get a call from my alarm company.  There
weren’t supposed to be any workers at the house so I had them dispatch
the police.  I call a couple of hours later and this is the response:

Police – “Greenwich Police”

Me – “Yes, my alarm went off today and I had the police dispatched.  I
would like a report”

Police – “You need to get that report from your alarm company”

Me – “They don’t have a report so I would like to get one”

Police – “Well, Only the security company can get a report”

Me- “So what you are saying is that my alarm went off at my house, I had
the police dispatched and you can’t give me a report on my own house??”

Police – “That’s correct sir”

Me- “You have to be kidding”

Police- “No sir, you have to have your security company call”

Unbelievable!!!

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That Greenwich Maserati

Greenwich Time’s Neil Vigdor pursued his quest for the owner of the $125,000 Maserati parked, with a town employee tag, at Town Hall and discovered that it belongs not to a BET member but to an employee of the Social Services Department. It strikes me as incongruous that someone working in Social Services, presumably a department chock-full of compassionate people, would feel comfortable spending this much money on an automobile but other than that, it’s his or her money and she’s free to part with it as she pleases, don’t you think? Still, I think I know where we can look for salary give-backs when next we need them.

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My sentiments exactly

Poll: Americans would support Value Added Tax (VAT) if it replaced other taxes, but don’t trust Congress to stick to the bargain. With damn good reason.

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Say, this just keeps getting better

$100 billion from our kids to the African kleptocracy, useless restrictions on our economy and now, according to the New York Times, a trade war. It’s every leftist’s dream world, perhaps, but not mine.

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I blame global warming

No seasonal flu this year.

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Gee, Mark, where could I get that done?

“Wash and wax early and often” – Splash owner helps drivers prepare for winter

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Tell it to the seals

We do regret this inconvenience

Families learn empathy from polar bears at Stepping Stones

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Watch for him on Oprah in six weeks

Tiger’s off to rehab for sex, pain-killer addictions. Our society’s originality tank has run dry.

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When flying, best to follow Iago’s lead

Make sure that “Who steals my purse, steals trash”. The WSJ reports that in the race between unionized airport luggage handlers and federal TSA inspectors as to who can steal the most from travellers’ luggage, the baggage handlers are winning. Considering that the airlines limit their liability for theft to $100 travel vouchers and that thefts are soaring, best to carry anything valuable with you or, better yet, leave it home. Who needs jewelry on Gouverneur?

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Beating a dead house?

mmmwwwaaa!

Greenwich Post has an interesting article today on the staging and publicizing of 718 North Street, a house that’s been around forever. The stager/promoter certainly has some innovative ideas, holding an art show, moving into the place herself, decorating with better style than is demonstrated by other stagers, etc., but I don’t see how any of that changes the fundamentals.

This is a four-acre lot in the four-acre zone, so you’ve got whatever that is as land value. It is set way back off North Street – a plus, and has wonderful views of the reservoir – another plus.

But that water is a reservoir, so you can’t go near it: no fishing, drowning or canoeing. That’s a (big) negative. The house itself was built in 1932, renovated within living memory but still, in my opinion, adds nothing to the value. Tear it down or rebuild it, it’s all the same so far as value for this property goes.

And what is that value? Assessed value is $2.45. The seller paid $3.583 for it in 2001, tried selling it for $4.350 in 2004, dropped it all the way down to $3.2 this year then raised it to $3.3 this past September. None of that has worked. I’m siding with the assessor on this one.

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Obamacrats are doing for us libertarians what we could not do for ourselves

Make us popular! Well, more popular than Democrats or Republicans which, these days, isn’t all that hard to do.

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Can’t we do anything right in the Nutmeg state?

Connecticut places a lousy 11th in “15 Worst States to Start a Business” survey. Wait’ll next year.

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Sticking with Kyoto at Copenhagen

So predicts Merrill. That would be the silly treaty that Bill Clinton signed and then stuck in his desk drawer because he knew his Democrat Senate friends would never go along with it. One of the first symptoms of Bush Derangement Syndrome was when liberals blamed Bush for not signing this thing; he couldn’t sign it because his predecessor already had - there was nothing to sign - and nothing had changed in the Senate to make it worthwhile presenting to them. But it was all about oil, see ….

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Patriot goes down! (Finally)

Thanks to reader Polly Pavel, here’s this tip from the news wire six minutes ago: Patriot Bank selling controlling interest to new investor, Michael Carrazza. More soon.

Business Wire

Up to $50 Million Investment to Provide Regulatory and Growth Capital to the Second Largest Commercial Bank Headquartered in Connecticut

STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Patriot National Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ Global Market “PNBK”) announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement with operating financier, Michael Carrazza, whereby Mr. Carrazza, through PNBK Holdings LLC, (“Holdings”) (an entity controlled by Carrazza), will acquire a substantial controlling interest in Patriot National Bancorp, Inc., the parent company of Patriot National Bank (“Patriot”). With assets of $937 million as of September 30, 2009, Patriot operates from 19 branch locations in affluent towns in southern Connecticut and New York.

Holdings will invest up to $50 million to purchase approximately 33.3 million newly issued shares of common stock of PNBK, representing nearly 88% of the fully diluted common stock of PNBK.

Mr. Carrazza stated: “Our investment objective is to provide capital necessary to maintain regulatory requirements and to position Patriot for long-term sustainable growth, asset diversification and superior performance for shareholders. Patriot’s geographic footprint includes a collection of some of the wealthiest communities in the country, representing a stable, affluent client base along the Fairfield County coastline, Westchester County and New York City. Patriot provides an attractive platform that will benefit from our capital, operational support and growth objectives.”

“The combination of additional capital, operating expertise and experienced additions to the team will assist Patriot in achieving its future goals,” said Angelo De Caro, Chairman of PNBK. “Most importantly, greatly enhanced regulatory capital contemplated in the transaction will strengthen our position and allow us to stay focused on serving our customers.” [hard to stay focused on serving customers when the FDIC has shut you down - De Caro makes a good point]

Contingent terms of the agreement also provide for a Special Loan Recovery Dividend (“SLRD”) designed by Carrazza to provide existing PNBK shareholders with the potential for additional consideration based upon actual recovery on assets charged off on its books as of June 30, 2009 and recovered by June 30, 2011. The SLRD would be paid in stock equal to 100% for the first $1 million of recoveries and 50% thereafter, valued at the greater of $1.50 per share or 75% of the share’s book value at time of distribution. There is no assurance Patriot will recover on any of these loans, and this dividend feature is conditional upon, among other things, structural satisfaction and approvals by all governmental agencies.

Holdings is seeking approval to become a bank holding company and aggregating investment from its minority investors which are expected to include private investors, family offices and institutions. Mr. Carrazza reported that “we have assembled a team of seasoned banking specialists, operational strategists, executive management and former FDIC regulatory advisors [ none of whom include the morons who destroyed this bank] to augment [replace] the Bank’s existing management and to assist in the restoration of shareholder value.” Upon closing, Mr. Carrazza is expected to become Chairman of PNBK. [Goodbye, Angelo, goodbye, Marty Nobel, if you're even still there].

UPDATE: This is the resolution of that lawsuit Carrazza brought last fall.

Another update – last spring, Patriot was showing something like $120 million is assets in Greenwich alone, based on loans to builders of spec houses, plus more millions in construction loans throughout Fairfield County. If $50 million buys 88% of the entire bank, I guess Patriot isn’t valuing that portfolio so high any more.

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Let’s get Phlosiful

So, welching on a mortgage debt, fair or foul? Contract law has always treated contractual promises as outside the scope of morality (with certain equity exceptions for duress, unconscionability, etc.). Assuming two capable adults, a contract gives each a choice: perform or pay damages – no moral culpability attaches either way.

So if you buy a house for a $1 million and a bank loans you $800,000 to help buy it, both parties are assuming certain risks. one of which is that the property value is sufficient to justify the price you’re paying and to secure the loan in the event of your default. In states that don’t allow lenders to pursue recourse beyond the property (and Shoeless, I believe Connecticut does), that bank is knowingly assuming the risk that the property value will drop. If it does and the borrower walks, he has still performed his side of the contract: he didn’t perform by paying back what he borrowed but the agreed -upon-in-advance damages are the house. If he hands over the keys, I’d say he had done all that he was obligated to do. In states that do allow recourse from other assets the defaulting borrower’s life is made more miserable but still, I don’t see the immorality of his actions.

Sit down at a restaurant and you are entering into an implied contract: if the restaurateur provides a meal, you will pay for it. If, upon presentation of the check, you discover that you’ve lost your wallet, you have not broken any moral law, but you are obligated to return to pay for the meal you consumed or, if this is the movies, wash dishes. Sneak out the back window and that’s a crime. Come in originally with the intention of dining and then sneaking out the back window, that’s a bigger crime.

I’m sure I’m not the ony one raised to believe that an honest man kept his word and paid his debts. But that’s a private morality and not something recognized by law.

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