Daily Archives: February 12, 2009

THIS is a stimulus bill we can all stand up for

Mexico City’s mayor passing out free Viagra

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How do you increase unemployment?

Pay people to quit their jobs! It’s all covered in the “Stimulus” bill, though how encouraging workers to abandon their employment will stimulate the economy escapes me.

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First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers

That was a real crowd pleaser in 1594 and remains so today, but lawyers have mostly gone over to the dark side these days and knocking them off would do little to advance the collectivist dream. Conservative talk radio, on the other hand, still stands as a bulwark against total domination by the left-controlled media. So the left is turning its attention to squelching it. Two Senators, one the wife of the head of failed left wing radio network Air America, the other Senator Tom Harkin, came out this week in support of restoring the “Fairness Doctrine” which is code for closing the airwaves to dissenting voices. Yesterday our whoremaster and former president, William Jefferson Clinton proposed the same thing.

Today, radio host Mario Solis Marich asked former President Bill Clinton if it was time for “some type of enforced media accountability.”

“Well, you either ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side,” Clinton said, “because essentially there’s always been a lot of big money to support the right wing talk shows and let face it, you know, Rush Limbaugh is fairly entertaining even when he is saying things that I think are ridiculous….”

The “big money” Clinton refers to comes from advertisers, who reward a radio show that attracts listeners. For some reason, possibly the inability of liberals to figure out the on/off switch, radio shows by and for leftists and collectivists fail to attract an audience. Someone might call that the working of a free marketplace of ideas – totalitarians consider it a cry for compulsory taxpayer subsidies and the elimination of competition. It was less than a year ago that Democrats were yelling that dissent was patriotic, as was the desire to pay higher taxes. Now it turns out that the right to dissent belongs exclusively to Democrats and the burden of paying taxes falls only on Republicans. Interesting.


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Who needs those Russians, anyway? Here come the Chinese, looking for bargains.


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Oh my goodness, that ignorant fool was tipped off

Last fall during the election campaign I linked to a video of a young woman explaining that she was for Obama because “he’s gonna pay my mortgage, my tax bill and lots of otha stuff”. I suggested then that she was in for a deep disappointment come the new year but it turns out, she knew! He’s doing it! Or rather, we’re doing it. Story and a link to the original video here, via Dealbreaker.

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For once it’s not about tax evasion

Judd Gregg withdraws as Commerce Secretary nominee – disagrees with Obama’s Stimulus plan.


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Greenwich Post: town layoffs begin

Our local paper reports:

21 full-time workers would have their jobs eliminated over the course of the next few days, along with 25 part-time positions, which equals about 19 people. Specific names and positions were not revealed, but the Department of Public Works is taking the biggest hit, losing nine full-time employees, followed by four from the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Full-time positions were also set to be eliminated from the Social Services Department, Town Clerk’s office, Assessor’s office, Finance Department, town administrative services and from civilian employees in the Greenwich Police Department. Those departments were expected to have one full-time job cut. Social Services was also set to lose two part-time homemaker positions. Greenwich and Perrot Libraries as well as the law department, IT department, human resources and land use were also set to lose part-time [sic] employees.

Franklin Bloomer was unavailable for comment.


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Why would they want to work an extra day?

NYC employees may move to four-day workweek.

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Where are the buyers?

Renting, it turns out. I was astonished to see today that 64 Sound Beach Avenue, a house unlikely to sell for its asking price of $2.195 million, rented via a bidding war (!) for $6,000 per month (up from $5,900 asking). Intrigued, I looked up rental activity for the year and discovered that there have been 84 transactions since January 1st. Many of those are multi-family and condos but that’s still a heck of a lot more activity than we’re seeing in sales. 64 Sound Beach, by the way, seems atypical. More common is the fate of 22 Indian Head Road in Riverside whose owners were asking an improbable $3.399 million for an oddly renovated house backing up to a grave yard. That rented for $8,700 per month, down from an asked-for $11,000.

The owners of 64 Sound Beach paid just $1.050 million for the their house in 2000 so a $6,000 per month rent probably eases the pain of not being able to sell it. The Indian Head folks paid $2.4 million for theirs in 2004 and may not be so happy with that $8,700. I don’t know how many renters would have been buyers in better times but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn they were a lot of potential buyers who have decided to sit this one out.

UPDATE: Just for kicks, I ran this equation through the rent vs. buy calculator (also linked to on the right side of this blog). $6,000 per month rent on a $2 million house, assuming 0% appreciation and a 3% annual rent increase yields the conclusion that you are never better off buying the place  than renting it. Someone asked, “what are these sellers going to do in 2011?” I guess they’re going to drop their prices, a whole heck of a lot.


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Nut cracker decision

Vaccines don’t cause autism, special masters rule. This would merit a “Duh” were it not for the hysteria surrounding the issue.

Oh – and that British scientist whose “research” triggered this whole thing and caused Don Imus to lose what was left of his crack-addled brain? Exposed as a complete and utter fraud. Thanks, Lancet, for publishing that paper in the first place. How many babies did you kill today?


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Dealbreaker: How to solve the slump

Warning to my humor-challenged friends: sarcasm ahead.

How do you handle a flagging economy convulsing with the powerful seizures of acute (and badly needed) deleveraging? Why, by creating incentives to pour more debt into the system, of course. You have to make sure people are buying flat panel TVs and SUVs on credit without impediment, as is their god-given right as Americans. You have to encourage more deposit-less mortgages. You create the impression that low interest rates are an entitlement. Raising them to meet market needs is a crime.

You have to rev up the re-fi machine. People can’t afford their mortgage anymore? Give them a tax credit, a check and then kick the living shit out of the lender until she forgives a large portion of the debt. (We call that “modification” and not “nationalization” of the debt, but it’s the same thing. Want TARP money? No? Take it anyhow, unless you want to destroy the financial system in the United States you anti-American pig. And use it to lend lend lend, damnit, or there will be hell to pay).

And you talk the talk:

You don’t say borrowing. You say lending. You don’t say debt. You say credit. Example:

Incorrect: If we want to save this country, we have to increase the debt in this economy.
Correct: If we want to save this country, we have to increase the available credit in this economy.

Now get back to work (buying on credit) you American hating slackers.

Dodd Says Credit Card Companies Too Often Are Gouging Customers [Bloomberg]

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Home prices dropped another 12% last quarter

Nothing encouraging here. For sellers, anyway.

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Big whoop

The compromise Stimulus Bill cut the home buyers credit from $15,000 to $8,000. This is driving down the stock price of the big home building companies but other than that, who cares? $15,000 was never going to do any good because, as explained here a few days ago, home prices are already too high and ripe for at least $15,000 reductions with little or no negotiating skills. The bill was always a sop to large political contributors and for some reason, Pelosi and her crowd decided to screw taxpayers a little less. It’ll still send billions of dollars to those corporations, of course, because after all, Congress is an honorable institution and tries to live up to its promises to contributors.

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Bad money chases out good?

25 Spezzano Drive

25 Spezzano Drive

This tidy little house on Spezzano Drive sold for $780,000 in August, 2006 and is now up for resale asking $879,000. Seems a tad aggressive, perhaps, but worse, it will be competing soon, if it isn’t already, with the brand new 10 Spezzano Drive that’s been (or is being) foreclosed on. Ten is twice as big, twice as nice and has a good back yard for the area. It failed to sell at $2 million (a surprise, alas, to no one except its builders) but what will it fetch from a bank? I think maybe $1.1 million or even less. In which case, $879 won’t seem like the bargain it might otherwise appear.


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Breaking News. Franklin Bloomer kicked off RTM Land Use Committee, no layoffs needed



Thanks to the generosity of Greenwich citizens who voluntarily contributed $12 million to the town on the express condition that Franklin Bloomer be escorted from his office, plopped on his bicycle and pushed down Sound View Drive, blindfolded, First Selectman Peter Tesei announced today that there would be no need to fire any town employees.

“It’s true that Bloomer held an unpaid position as Dictator,” Tesei said, “but this cash from his fellow citizens plus the general boosting of moral among all town employees should more than make up for the salaries we’ll continue to pay. Besides, now that we can move forward with a rational zoning plan, our productivity will soar.”

FB could not be reached for comment but after the First Selectman reported a stream of bubbles rising from the bottom of Greenwich Harbor, police divers searched and found no sign of intelligent life. “Nobody knows the bubbles I’ve seen,” sighed Tesei.

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This is stimulating

The problem: Nancy Pelosi has a pet project in her hometown, preserving a swamp outside of San Francisco, but the Stimulus Bill is a “no-earmarks” bill. No pork here, nosiree, the crisis is too important for that!

The solution: Nancy Pelosi gets her $30 million dollars (yours and mine, actually), but denies that it’s an earmark. We don’t have a budget problem, we have a language problem.

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More on square feet

Turns out there are no new houses I feel compelled to see – at their prices, I can view them in August, when it’s calmer. So instead of driving around wasting gas I checked the statistics for recent sales of spec houses and compared them to what spec houses currently for sale are asking. Quite a difference, as noted in my friend from Arizona’s column, between what’s selling and what’s asking.


Only 8 new houses asking $4.5 million and above sold since July, 2008. Tossing out the highest ($1.169 sf. on Club Road, a private sale) and the lowest, 480 North Street’s fire sale price of $439 sq. ft., we get an average of $629 sf. Of course, July was a long time ago, but bear with me – I have to use the figures I have.


Not Selling (or, to be kinder, “for sale”):

There are 58 new spec houses currently on the market and rather than run all 58 of those (I do have a life, sort of), I chose the 8 most expensive and again tossed out the highest ($1,544 sq.ft. , the castle on Meadow Wood and I-95) and the lowest ($938 sq. ft. on Andrews farm Road) and got an average price of $1,037 per sq. ft.

These are all beautiful houses, no doubt, and a buyer would be lucky to have any of them but we do seem to have a bit of a disconnect between what’s selling and what’s for sale. As an aside, we also have a disconnect between the size of what’s selling and what’s available. Average (tossing out biggest and smallest) size of those sold houses: 9,780 sq. ft. vs 14,091 sq. ft. for those for sale. Hmmm.


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Selling it by the foot

Reader CEA expressed interest in knowing what two specific spec houses sold for and what the currently active spec house at 25 Beechcroft Road is asking. Good question and when I come back from open house tour (sigh) I’ll pull up more numbers but here, for now, are the three she asked about:

480 North Street. 10,250 sf; sold, $4.5 million, cost per sf: $439

16 Beechcroft.      9,400 sf; sold, $6.150 million, cost per sf: $654

25 Beechcroft. 7,800 sf; asking, $7.950 million, cost per sf: $1,019

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My Ally in Tucson

We’ve never met, but Blogger and fellow real estate agent John Schneider is on the same page I am. Sellers out there are doing the same thing ours are doing here in Greenwich, with the same result. No sales.

Here’s his latest posting, which I include in its entirety just to make sure you read it:

We have this pricing pattern going on here in the Foothills, and it goes like this.

The homes that get listed for sale are priced a lot higher than the homes that are going under contract and selling. And we can’t seem to break the pattern. You see what’s happening is, lower price homes are selling pretty well but, very few higher priced homes are selling. And still a lot of higher priced homes keep getting listed for sale. And they’re really starting to pile up.

For example, in just the last 5 days,

23 homes were listed for sale, and they averaged $221/sf, average list price was $695,461, median list was $569,000

and the 11 homes that went under contract averaged $191/sf, average list price was $500,527, median list was $449,000

and just 1 sold, so there’s not much there to work with but, if you must know, it sold for $280,000, or a measly $159/sf.

And I realize that I’ve beat this drum to death, but still, it shows no sign of stopping, and I think one reason for that is that some people still don’t get it.

WoW-wee, here’s an example from real life.
I’ve been working with some buyers, and one of the homes we found that interested them is priced at around a million.

And after the showing, the listing agent called me to see ‘how it went’. It went good, I said, nice house, lovely lemon trees, but I’m curious, how’d you arrive at your price.

Well, in August a house up here sold for blah-blah-blah and…
August, August was, in August – that’s history book stuff, has nothing to do with now, and by the way, you had to go all the way back to August for a comp.

Well, uh,

I told her that just for the fun of it, I’d book ended her list price by $125k – so from the $800’s to over a million. And in that price range, guess what, there are 52 homes for sale. And guess how many have sold in the last 3 1/2 months. She wouldn’t guess, so I told her. 0, none, nothing has sold. That’s the market.

So please, tell me again, how did you arrive at your price.

see my web site thefoothillsToday.com
to search for and learn more about Tucson Foothills Homes

Back here in Greenwich, it’s Broker Open House Thursday and in preparation I’ve been reviewing new listings. They might just as well be in Tucson.


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Why I don’t like (some) cops

South Carolina troopers, eager for their 5 seconds of fame, are arresting pot smokers with an eye toward building a case against Michael Phelps. This all stems from a photo on the Internet showing Michael Phelps (an Olympic swimmer – I confess I had to look him up) smoking a bong. I haven’t checked SC’s crime statistics but I’d guess that somewhere within its borders there’s something a little more serious than a party going on.

But busting a rapist, nurderer or even a kid skateboarding where he shouldn’t won’t get your fat face on the front page of the paper, will it?

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