Daily Archives: September 17, 2008

Slappy the Clown’s Happy Dance

Happy Talk
I am under increasing pressure from my real estate peers to stop being gloomy and start reporting happy news. Ever eager to please, I looked up recent listings going to contract and compared them to last year. From June 15 through September 17 of 2007 147 houses went to contract, compared to 101 this year. That’s a drop of 31%, more or less. In the shorter period of August 1 ’07 through September 17 2007, we saw 64 contracts vs 33 this year.
So what’s the happy news? I dunno – I suppose we could have sold nothing, and wouldn’t that be a bummer.

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This is offensive
Received via email this referral fee schedule from a local builder:

Offensive because I think a real estate agent’s customer should be able to trust that she’s getting good advice, not a disguised sales pitch. Or at least, that’s my opinion.

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Sleeping in the Playground
The town is planning to
redo the Bruce Park playground.
According to its sponsors,
a) Every child can reach the highest play level
b) Play structures are configured to support all children’s development
c) Pathways and surfacing are universally accessible
d) Cozy gathering and away spaces provide a rest from the action
e) Equipment such as swings with back support
f) Sensory-rich and ground level play activities.

It all sounds boring enough to drive even the most adventurous child back to his videogames.

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Ugly
Stocks not doing well today
Uglier still:

With no hope for the return of the mortgage securitization and overall liquidity continuing to dry up, we believe that with fewer mortgages available,fewer people will qualify for mortgages, and homeownership will head materially lower. All this creates a recipe for meaningfully lower US house prices.

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With apologies to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the chickens have come home to roost

Lehman’s bad real estate ventures

One real estate investment broker described Lehman as “the real estate A.T.M.”
“They definitely were the mavericks out there,” said the broker, who did not want to be identified to protect his business relationships. “If you needed money, you could get it.”

Does anyone remember the Lehman/Antares ventures? Here’s what Mr. Beninati, “Mr. Antares” says of his lenders on his own web page:

“In every deal we do, lenders decide if that project is for them,” Beninati said. “But over the years, the opposite problem has arisen. Several banks might agree to finance our projects, and we regularly have to call some of our oldest and dearest friends in the industry tell them that Antares cannot give them business on a particular deal.”

Gee, I don’t know, it seems to me that Antares was only too happy to “give them the business”.

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From The Grim Reaper Gazette

Housing starts at 17 1/2 year low
I’ve had a couple of conversations with builder friends and clients and I can confirm that this same sense of caution pervades Greenwich, too. Of course, fools rush in … and all that, so we may still see some activity.

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Where’s the legal authority for the Government to buy AIG?
Nowhere, but apparently not enough people care.
David Zaring:

But, in the Fed’s legal defense, maybe, just maybe, the settled expectations are different here, based on the government’s takeovers of Fannie and Freddie, and the pleading by AIG for government involvement. Does the very fact that the insurer hoped for Fed action suggest that the Fed could act?
Hmmm. The other defense would be that emergencies are emergencies, and when that happens the rules go out the window, and hopefully regular elections mean that the officials the people trust are dealing with the emergency. Abraham Lincoln adopted that reasoning, and he won the Civil War. I suspect we’re at the “anything goes in an emergency” stage of things. But maybe reasonable minds could disagree.

Megan McArdle writes,

A lawyer friend IMs “I would be fascinated to know on what authority the Fed is claiming the right to do this.” It’s probable that they don’t actually have the legal right to do anything like this. Their authority is this: who’s going to stop them? No one wants to take on responsibility for this mess themselves.

I’m all for living in interesting times, but these days, things are getting curiouser and curiouser.

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Hunter Thompson Lives
Reading the rantings of Greenwich Round Up is a bit like spending time with your crazie Uncle Eddie, fresh from another unsuccessful round of electroshock therapy at Silver Hill. Always entertaining, equally confusing and crammed with HUGE HEADLINES, tuns of mispelings and nasty things to say about almost everybody. But always fun, so long as you’re not on the receiving end.
And, to give Crazy Eddie his due, they guy is way ahead of the local press on issues like the Byram School fiasco, the bozos (okay, I used a picture of bonobos to depict them, but close enough) on our School Board, and the sad, escalating decline of our daily paper, Greenwich Time.
I disagree with him most of the time – I happen to support the new Stanwich School, for instance, even though I have no kids at that school and if I, as a disinterested person, can applaud their efforts it seems reasonable to assume that our P&Z’s decision in favor of the project could be because reasonable people think it’s a good idea, rather than because of bribery and corruption.
But so what? It’s a fun read.

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