Daily Archives: September 4, 2009

“The difference between a senator and a congressman is the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit”

So said Lyndon Baines Johnson, and he should know. But despite the House of Representatives assuming the imperial trappings of their betters by ordering new fleets of Gulfstream jets for themselves and expanding their staffs ten-fold since LBJ’s day, they still act like the chicken shit they are. Here, for instance, is a wonderful video of a congressman in action.

Rep. Baron Hill (D., Ind.) putting a young constituent in her place:

Constituent: First of all, for journalism students, why can’t we film this? We have school projects, and I have just been taken aside and told that I can’t film this. I’m not disrupting, I’m keeping my opinions to myself, but now that I’m not getting to do this for a project, I was going to ask a question. I just–why can’t I film this? Isn’t this my right?

Hill: Well, this is my town-hall meeting, and I set the rules, and I’ve had these rules– [audience jeers]

Let me repeat that one more time! This is my town hall meeting for you [more jeering]. And you’re not going to tell me how to run my congressional office. Now, the reason for why I don’t allow filming is because usually the films that are done end up on YouTube in a compromising position.

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Dilbert

 

Call me Mr. Green

Call me Mr. Green

 

Walt explains FGG's strategery

Walt explains FGG's strategery

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One last contract before the weekend

14 Hope Farm Road. Purchased for $4.295 in 2004, listed at $5.395 in 2008, assessed at $3.459, under contract today at $3.555. If you’re travelling in Canada and run into a certain Riverside builder, tell him he’s a moron, from me. Thanks.

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AM radio a threat to their brain messages

Earth Liberation Front terrorists have destroyed two AM radio transmission towers,claiming that the waves interfered with messages due in from Mars. These are the same punks who spike logs in the hope of maiming sawmill workers, burn down car dealerships and toss bombs at the homes of scientists. The only thing amusing about them, if at all, is that they’re as befuddled and confused as Greenwich residents who scream about cellphone transmissions melting their infants’ baby bottles. Can you imagine the fate of alternating current were the Westinghouse brothers to try to introduce it today? We’d still be burning sperm oil to light our lamps.

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I didn’t mean it!

Yesterday the owner of 9 Lauder Way came to his senses, realized he hadn’t sold his house after years of trying and cut his price to $5.2 million. That’s still far above its assessed value of $3.6 million but it was certainly a good start, a start that ended today – he’s yanked it back up to $6.5 million – no one’s going to steal his house! What a yo-yo.

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Single family inventory, Labor Day Weekend

If history repeats itself, next week will see the start of Greenwich’s traditional fall selling season which should continue until two weeks before Thanksgiving. For the record and so we can gauge what happens, I’ve locked in the number of single family homes for sale on this late Friday afternoon as Labor Day looms: 672, vs. 561 this time in 2008 and 482 in 2007. Let’s see what happens.

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What’s a Riversville Road building lot worth?

614 Riversville Rd

614 Riversville Rd

Less than the owner of 614 Riversville once hoped. This corner (John Street) lot of four acres and an 1850 home started off on the market in April 2007 at $4.2 million. Today, eight price cuts later, it’s down to $2 million. Assessed at $2.12 million. Not bad.

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What’s a Havemeyer building lot worth?

1 Northridge

1 Northridge

Not much, if it’s on Havemeyer Lane, as this one is. Purchased for $667,500 in April, 2007 (assessed vale $658,000) by a buyer using an out-of-town broker, the builder put in a foundation and listed a to-be-built home for $1.995. When that didn’t work he tried reselling the land for a hefty profit (they always try, they always fail) at $895. Give the guy this much: unlike the builders around the corner, he didn’t proceed with construction and left his hole in the ground just as it was with no further money poured into it. Today you can buy this plot for $395,000, a price low enough to suspect that the owner’s just trying to salvage anything he can from his mistake. I’d start at $275,000 and see what I got. If I wanted to live here, that is.

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We’re not in ’04 anymore, Toto

3 Jenifer Lane (off Bible) sold new in 2004 for $2,312.50. It came back on in ’06 at $2.6 million and finally sold for $2.285 in 2007. It was put up for sale again this year and has found a buyer at, I assume, less than its final asking price of $1,792,500. Assessment is $1.8 million plus.

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Go figure

52 Hunt Terrace

52 Hunt Terrace

In a market of falling rents (I was just involved in what I hope will be my only rental for the year, where we rented for $3,900 a house that rented for $6,000 the past two years), this house in Glenville was listed for $5,500 and rented for $6,350. It’s a very nice house, and Hunt Terrace is a nice street, but it still surprises me. Show what happens when two people want the same thing, no matter what the market’s doing.

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Coming soon to the homeopathic shelves of a Whole Foods near you

cowIndians turning to cow urine, gee and herbs to ward off swine flu. The otherwise well educated ladies I see patronizing the homeopathic section at Whole Foods should be suckers for this, too. Gesundheit!

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Paging Marty Noble

They cut off my phone service!

They cut off my phone service!

I’ve been trying to reach Marty at his place of employment just to see how he’s doing but the main line (203) 252-5900) keeps dumping all callers into a general black hole voicemail. Is anyone there any more? Try the number yourself and if you reach Martin, tell him how much we care.

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Old Greenwich price cut

10 West End Avenue
10 West End Avenue

This is a pretty nicely renovated 1898 house with a big back yard and just a block away from town. Downside includes a lovely view of the CVS carpark next door and the traffic on West End Avenue but that back yard is very private and all in all, it’s a nice place. It was originally listed for $2.3 million in July, 2008, which proved to be overly optimistic but it’s been cut today to $1.695. The assessment is $1.7 +, so that’s pretty good.

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Say Goodbye

Oops!

Oops!

 Faith and Begorrah, that’s good!. Pour out another one and sing along with me (to the tune of the Irish Washerwoman):
Oh, your mother is dead
and your father is dead
and your brother is dead
and your brother is dead
and your brother is dead
and your wife is a drunk
and your kid has one leg
and your car doesn’t float.

[I'm loathe  loth to re-write someone else's ditty, but perhaps the last three lines should be changed to:

Mary Jo's in the trunk

And you kid has one leg

But you're no longer drunk]

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Mortgage woes come to Greenwich

The sub-prime mortgages have taken their hit, now it’s prime borrowers’ time to hurt.

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports:

The long recession and rising joblessness are taking an increasing toll on the nation’s most credit-worthy borrowers, who are now falling behind on their mortgage and credit-card payments at a faster pace than people with poor financial histories.

The mortgage-delinquency rate among so-called subprime borrowers reached 25% in the first quarter but appears to be leveling off, rising only slightly in the second quarter. The pace of delinquencies for prime borrowers is accelerating. Since prime loans account for 80% of U.S. bank exposure to mortgages and credit cards, these losses could ultimately exceed those from weaker borrowers.

“The subprime pain is in the rearview mirror,” says Sanjiv Das, head of Citigroup Inc.’s mortgage business, which is seeing delinquencies rise among prime borrowers, who make up three-quarters of its mortgage portfolio.

HSBC Holdings PLC, which was one of the first banks hit by a wave of subprime defaults in the U.S., says its portfolio of prime credit-card loans is performing worse than its subprime group. One reason for the switch, the bank has said, is that many of its subprime borrowers are renters, who have demonstrated a better payment history on their credit cards than prime borrowers, who are homeowners now getting hit by falling house prices.

The focus on prime borrowers comes more than two years after the housing meltdown took its first aim at subprime borrowers, who found themselves locked into unaffordable mortgages and weighed down by credit-card debt.

[subprime and prime mortgages delinquencioes]

These subprime borrowers tend to have fewer financial levers to pull to stay current on their debt payments, so they default relatively quickly. Many of those bad subprime mortgages have worked their way through the financial system, causing billions of dollars in losses to the nation’s banks. Credit-card issuers, meanwhile, have been quick to cut off these subprime borrowers, who were in the first wave of delinquencies and defaults.

For prime borrowers, this recession has been especially tough because declining home prices have taken away one of the typical crutches for them since it is harder to tap the equity in their homes to pay their bills if they lose their jobs, according to a report issued this week by Standard & Poor’s.

In addition to cutting back on spending, strapped prime borrowers often can keep up with their bills longer than subprime borrowers by draining savings accounts, reducing contributions to retirement plans and turning to family members for money. They also are typically slower than subprime customers to seek help for financial problems because they are concerned about the stigma associated with such assistance, credit counselors say.

About 40% of the strapped consumers seeking help from the OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling center in Asheville, N.C., are prime borrowers, up from 15% last year, says Tom Luzon, director of counseling services at the United Way agency. Many of these clients already scaled back their lifestyles after losing their jobs or seeing their salaries slashed. Some are small-business owners whose companies foundered as a result of the recession.

“They have made adjustments and made adjustments, but then you get to a point where you can’t adjust anymore,” says Mr. Luzon, who is a former banker.

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