Daily Archives: March 21, 2009

Ow – forfeited deposits

The New York Times Real Estate section reports on buyers who put down deposits on new construction and, a year later when it’s time to pay the rest, find that their lender no longer will give them a loan. The result is awful, as you can imagine. The problem isn’t restricted to new construction of course, but those projects, at least in New York, seem to require a non-refundable deposit and make no allowance for changed economic circumstances, personal or national, in the time between paying the deposit and completion of the unit. Connecticut’s lower case law (I am unaware of a Supreme or Appellate Court decision) usually doesn’t allow a seller to keep a deposit, regardless of contractual language, if he has suffered no damages. When prices were rising, buyers seeking a return of their money at least had some leverage. In a falling market, they don’t. Be careful out there.

SOME of the buyers who thought they would be moving into new condominiums in the region this year are finding that those plans are in ruins as they are being forced to walk away from the hefty down payments they made a year or more ago.

They can’t complete their deals because the mortgages they lined up before the credit crisis took hold have evaporated and they can no longer get financing.

Elizabeth and James Pham put all their savings into the deposit they made on a $956,990 two-bedroom apartment at Maxwell Place, a new development in Hoboken, N.J.

They signed an agreement for the apartment in 2005, put down $93,199 and were preapproved for a mortgage for the rest of the purchase price.

But when their closing date arrived last September, several banks told them that to get a mortgage, they would have to increase their 10 percent down payment by another 15 to 25 percentage points. With no way to come up with that much money, the Phams notified the developer, Toll Brothers, that they could not get financing for the apartment. Toll Brothers declared them in default and kept their deposit.

“It would take us another 15 years to save that money again,” Ms. Pham said.



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Watch out, Mr. President!

Man loses tooth as bowlers brawl over etiquette. Sarah Palin could not be reached for comment.

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Walter, your salvation is near

Woman accused of theft from church blames Satan

1 Comment

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This must be good news for someone

New Jersey ends plan to bar Brazilian wax jobs.


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Maybe my political prognostication is as poor as my real estate wisdom

Here’s an encouraging AP article that says Connecticut Democrat voters are sick and tired of Dodd and have been for some time. I’ll never be so happy to be wrong, if he’s dumped.

While Dodd, 64, has only recently found himself in the nation’s political hot seat because of his role in the AIG bonus debacle, it has become clear that his issues with voters back home have been festering for two years. The AIG controversy appears to have exacerbated his popularity problems.

“His numbers started to fall two years ago, and it had nothing to do with the economy,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz. “It’s been a cumulative effect that has brought him down.”

Dodd’s decision to move his family to Iowa to campaign for a doomed bid for president, his initial refusal to release documents of his two controversial mortgages with Countrywide, criticism of how he financed a vacation cottage in Ireland, and now his involvement as Senate Banking Committee chairman in the bill that ultimately protected bonuses for executives at insurance giant AIG have all taken their toll.

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Sorry to end her fun, but I’ve just permanently labelled Shelton 04 spam so off she goes. Shelton, we tolerate lots of stuff here but ALL CAPITAL LETTERS are annoying and, in Internet etiquette, are considered the written equivalent of shouting. That’s a no-no. And yes, I’m sure I do “suck as a realtor” – on the other hand, I sold far more of it in the past year than 95% of my peers and, judging from your pique, a lot more than you. Good luck, dear. You hold onto that price and write in a few years to tell me how you did.


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The Connecticut senate race begins

Republican Simmons, the only announced challenger to Dodd that I’m aware of, is going after the man for his AIG “Dodd Amendment”. Good for him, but I doubt this tempest will last long enough to deprive Dodd of the Democrat nomination and with it, reelection. Maybe that Irish Cottage will have longer legs – I hope so.

Will Blumenthal take a run at Dodd? A friend of mine, a Democrat, and I discussed this over coffee this morning and we both agreed that the answer is no. Lieberman is toast and will be out of the picture, one way or the other, in 2012, and that’s what Blumenthal’s waiting for. The man only goes for sure things- one reason I dislike him so much, is that he always waits for others to lead the way – tobacco, Microsoft, whatever, and only steps in when he can’t screw it up but can get publicity. Doubt me? Why did he wait so long to move on the AIG bonus play? It was only when his hated rival, Andrew Cuomo, started grabbing headlines that Dick figured out he was missing the train.

Anyway, the prediction here is that Dodd outlasts this scandal as he has all the others and retains his seat. Dodd and Blumenthal – what a future we have to look forward to.


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Well, if you put it that way, …

Reader Shelton has been complaining that this blog is preventing him from selling his Old Greenwich house for the price he deserves and buying something else far away from Greenwich and its mean bloggers. The Bovina Bloviator has just chimed in with this bit of logic:

Shelton04 write: “No other town (than I’m aware of) is talking housing prices into the dirt the way Chris is doing.” Than that must mean Greenwich is becoming cheaper relative to other towns. Since Greenwich is still considered a highly desirable place to live, shouldn’t sales be skyrocketing since it’s now, according to Shelton04, “dirt” cheap?

Thank you, Bovina. Shelton, I will look for your apology in the comments section.


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Internet threatening a federal crime

At the request of my boss at Raveis, I have deleted those posts which hinted at who I suspected sent me foul, anonymous emails early (2:37 AM) Saturday morning. Rather than delete them I’d prefer to refer the sender to the FBI for his felonious activity but what the heck, I’m a team player, eh? So off he goes, back into the universal blackness of the Internet. Just in case he needs a reminder, though, I’ll leave this post up:

[Original Post]

Hey – I find the stuff amusing, sort of, but if you’re the type to get likkered up late at night and unload emails to ex-girlfriends, employers or bloggers, you might want to know this:

It’s a violation of federal law.

18 U.S.C. § 875(c) states: “Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any    communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any  threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this  title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”  From the wording of § 875(c) it is clear that the legislator did not require the element of ‘intent.’  Thus, it is irrelevant if the accused claims he/she did not have the intent to produce any injury on the victim; the mere act of sending the e-mail with threatening messages typifies the criminal conduct.


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Nothing new under the Madoff sun

Jury’s still out on the Madoff sons, so to speak, but Bloomberg has a nice story on a 19th century swindler who was every bit as nasty as Bernie proved to be 150 years later.

John Sadleir – an Irish lawyer, which should satisfy at least two food groups, stole from tens of thousands of people and then, unlike Bernie, ended his life.

“He was well-liked and well-trusted and robbed everybody that he could lay his hands on,” O’Shea said in a telephone interview. “It’s exactly the same sad story.”

Mr. Merdle

Dickens, a regular at Jack Straw’s Castle, a pub next to Sadleir’s suicide spot on Hampstead Heath in North London, used him as the basis for Mr. Merdle, a financier whose fraud and suicide is the central action of his 1857 novel “Little Dorrit.”

“He was Chairman of this, Trustee of that, President of the other,” Dickens wrote of Merdle, presaging justifications used by Madoff investors a century and half later. “The weightiest of men had said to projectors, ‘Now, what name have you got? Have you got Merdle?’ And the reply being in the negative, had said ‘Then I won’t look at you.’”

Sadleir forged property deeds to secure mortgages and embezzled money from the banks he chaired, concealing barren balance sheets with false statements, said O’Shea, who cited a letter Sadleir wrote to his brother explaining how accounts “should be made to appear.”

“People aren’t bothered when boom times are rolling, but when they need their money again that’s what catches out the crooks,” said Terence Gourvish, director of the London School of Economics business history group. “They get away with it for quite a long time if there’s a boom because no one needs the money. They just leave it there.”

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A patriotic duty to make bad loans?

Stamford’s Patriot Bank hasn’t covered itself with glory in their lending decisions around town. Chances are pretty good that if a spec house here is in trouble, there’s Patriot money at risk. But now I learn that the bank didn’t restrict its largess to Greenwich. Of twenty failed spec houses in Scarsdale five (5) have Patriot going down with them. That may indeed be a way to run a railroad, but look what happened to them.

UPDATE: The bank’s stock has fallen from $16 to $3.46 in the past 52 weeks, which is probably a better performance than Citi can boast. I’m curious, though, at the occasional spikes in trading. Usually a few hundred shares a day, but look at February 5, 2009 when 102,000 shares traded. Insiders getting out or getting in? Heck if I know. I’ve heard rumors that they’ll be gone in 60 days but rumors are just that – I wouldn’t trade on them, that’s for sure. But around May 15, I’ll be watching.

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No one’s going to steal my house! New Canaan edition

I learned from a client (well, a client if I can find him something here in Greenwich) that he recently bid 75% of the asking price on a New Canaan property, cash, no contingencies, and the seller responded by dropping his house $5,000. In January, exactly zero houses sold in New Canaan – not a single one. Unless market conditions improved dramatically up there in February and March, that seller is not going to be moving for a long time. Which is fine, but, just like some homeowners here in Greenwich, I ask, why is he tormenting himself with listing his house for sale at all? This is not the time to stick your house on the market with a “here’s my price – take it or leave it” price sticker and see what happens. Because nothing will. Come back in a few years.


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This is rich

Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, has protested the stimulus bill’s barring of money spent in casinos. It’s not that he’s concerned about his casino contributors, mind you – oh no. It’s because charities – little children, battered women, you know, the salt of the earth types, use the casinos as meeting places and will have no place to go if they can’t spend their money at the slots (how my tax dollars given to a battered women’s group stimulates the economy more than my spending it myself is an issue for another day). The ban was slipped in by Tom Coburn, Republican from Oklahoma, and I’ll bet he’s stil laughing himself to sleep.

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Same writer (check ip address) different language

From Delray Beach, Florida come these drunken missives:

Submitted on 2009/03/21 at 1:40am

there will soon be a complaint filed with the board of realtors, regarding your disinformation about real estate in greenwich.

Who said I was infallible? 

Submitted on 2009/03/21 at 1:37am

you are all a bunch of a**h****s. f***k you chris fountain, if i see you see you around, g-d have mercy on you, you f*****g piece of s**t. get a life scumbag. print this you f*****g degenerate washed out real estate broker. you and your readers are jealous that your houses aren’t selling.

[edited for clarity by CF]


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