Daily Archives: October 27, 2008

Dean Barnett has died. Dean was best known, perhaps, in the Bloggers’ world but he was also a guest host on the Hugh Hewitt Show, a writer for the Weekly Standard, and one of the longest living cystic fibrosis sufferers. His description of that disease, and his courageous refusal to be daunted by it, can be found here.

Dean and I were just email friends, though he liked my books and even plugged one – probably sold a couple of hundred copies for me, for which I remain grateful. What I regret is that, despite several attempts, we never met for dinner. At first we were going to meet half way between his home in Boston and mine, then I said I’d come up to Boston just for the pleasure. His health dropped off around then and we never had the chance again. I guess my point is, don’t pass up such opportunities – make it a point to catch up with friends, go that extra mile. Because it sucks when it’s too late.

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Rentals
These are hard to track because the data aren’t reported in any easily accessible format but basically, rentals are holding their own. 35 single family homes rented in the past two months compared with 27 for the same period last year (there are currently an additional 211 SF homes available for rent, so we’re not exactly burning through our inventory). What’s harder to find, however, without examining each listing and comparing its original listing price: $15,000, for instance, and its actual rented price -$10,000, is how much rents have fallen, if at all. I know that each day the realtors’ hot sheet is stuffed with rental reductions; what I don’t have is a specific number from which to compute that decline. If I did any rental business I might be tempted to spend the hours necessary to determine that number but I don’t, so I won’t. But I do feel safe in suggesting that, if you have a good tenant in your property now and the rent’s coming up for renewal,this isn’t the time to do so.

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(Non -real estate subject matter – reader discretion is strongly advised. Back later, after open house tour to report on that soggy mess.)

The decline of America, as predicted by Pete DuPont in the WSJ . DuPont’s not the first to see and warn against this disaster but, given the likely result in next week’s election, he may be the last – after that his type will be describing, not predicting. I have no reason to believe that,even if they were to read DuPont’s article, Americans would vote differently. In Russia, most citizens, especially young citizens, feel no revulsion towards Stalin and would vote for him tomorrow, should he reappear. Lucky them if he does, eh? But I read recently in the WSJ of a focus group of likely American voters who felt that they wanted Obama in the White House because he’d bring us back to the Reagan era, “when the government ran all the big businesses and everything worked great.”

Obama promises fat welfare checks to (almost) everyone but since few folks are willing to admit that they’re on the dole, he calls them “tax credits”. ” Say ya don’t pay taxes? No matter,son, here’s a credit – go buy some food stamps fur that fine fambly of yurs and don’t forget to vote Demmerkratic, cause we’s the ones who done give you this, straight from the wallets of the rich.” American voters are lapping this stuff up. Free health care, paid for with pixie dust! An end to suffering! Finally, a parking space right in front of the video store! And no one pays for any of this except the kazillion-trillion millionaires out there who’ll just keep plugging away, earning income so the Anointed One can redistribute it to us. Glory, Hallelujah, mine eyes have seen the coming!

This kind of abysmal ignorance, coupled with the inherent greed of so many people who relish the idea of getting their paws on something someone else owns will ensure our decline. The people want change? Boy are they going to get it.

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Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.

Collect $20 billion from us taxpayers, pay yourselves $13 billion in bonuses –
That’s what Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have planned. I try very hard to retain my enthusiam and support for free enterprise and capitalism. That’s hard to do when the top pigs put their snouts deep into the feed trough and release the resulting byproduct on the rest of us. The Wall Streeters may think they’re just enjoying getting fat on dumb taxpayers; their hoggish behavior may produce another result entirely.

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Here’s a surprise. Home sales go up as prices decline. Something tells me that there’s an economic principle to be discovered here.

Update: Floyd Norris of the NYT says those are fudged figures and that new home sales are lower than they’ve been since 1991.

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Well darn.
Tony Hillerman is dead at 83. I really enjoyed his books and will miss his writing.

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If Bush is elected President our civil liberties will be …. Oh no, that’s happening in liberal Canada, where real estate agents are required to snoop for the government. Name, federal id #, source of funds, etc. must all be collected by agents from their clients and forwarded to the government so that terrorists can be captured. If a buyer is even from another province he must personally prove his identity in a face to face meeting with an agent there before that agent can pass him along to an agent in the next province.

That sucks but if you don’t like that aspect of Canadian life, consider this: I spent the weekend with a great bunch of Canadians in a very much apolitical setting. To a man, they complained about their health care system – if you’re in pain, but the situation isn’t life threatening, you can wait as long as 2 years for surgery. Those of us so joyously awaiting next Tuesday’s anointment and the coming of the solution to our health insurance problems might want to schedule surgery now, rather than wait til after January’s coronation.

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Here’s a dubious marketing idea: Selling real estate to fellow Christians. Apparently there are real estate agents out there who make direct appeals to Muslims and Jews, too, but I find the whole idea off-putting. If it works, though, look for a Crescent and a star and a cross on my next business card. I’m nothing if not polytheistic.

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Well Good! U.S. attacks terrorists in Syria.
Syria’s Ambassador to the U.K. says,

“”This is an outrageous raid which is against international law. It is a terrible crime.”

To which I say, “please sir, can we have some more?”

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163 Old Church Road

This was reduced today a little over 6% from $3.750 Million to $3.5. I mentioned earlier this month that there were 3 houses on Old Church Road all in this price range and all unsold. One, 149, has dropped it price from $3.795 to $2.950, now 163 is seeing the light, albeit dimly. The hold out is #56, which came on at $3.750 million and has stuck fast at that price, regardless of what the market says. Good luck to all of them. Two of them, at least, are very nice houses.

276 Riversville Road has been returned to the market with a new price of $3.3 million – it didn’t sell back in 2004 at $4.495 million, so one can’t really say that this new price reflects an actual drop of market value but, as the property is owned by a real estate professional is is an indication of what he felt the market would sustain then and where he thinks the market is now. Of course, he was obviously wrong in 2004, so take this drop for what it’s worth.

As of today, Monday morning at 9 AM, we have recorded 9 contracts for single family homes in the month. In October of last year, when the sub-prime disaster had begun to unfold and the market was beginning its nosedive, 33 houses went to contract. So we’re down about 70% from there but the week is young – maybe we’ll see a strong performance during the next five days. We saw 14 contracts in the last 8 business days of October, 2007 and it would be great if we duplicated that this year – I don’t think we will.

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