Daily Archives: November 4, 2009

Who’d have guessed?

After nine solid months of hyping swine flu in the national media, a presidential proclamation of a national crisis and high level moaning and abject fear, the Center for Disease Control is surprised to discover that demand for a vaccine has outstripped supply and people are panicking. Oh, ObamaKare is going to be a rare treat.


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So what’s this do to mortgages?

Fed says it will keep interest rates near zero “for extended period” but also announces planned end to mortgage purchases by spring. Right now, the Fed’s buying 80 – 100% of all mortgages generated by banks. If banks can’t resell the loans they’re making, will they continue to make them? Will Congress let the Fed dry up the mortgage market? If not, if it continues, what does that do to our economy? Our deficit? Fascinating times coming up, I think.

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Separated at birth?

capt.photo_1256832514091-1-0Just wondering.






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Gays blame Obama for loss in Maine?

Gay Marriage Maine

He meant what he said, the...the liar!

What are these people thinking? Obama (and Biden, come to think about it) are against gay marriage and have said so repeatedly, yet “the gays” a self-defined group, presumably, of liberal homosexuals) now complain that he didn’t lend support to their battle to keep gay marriage legal up north. What, did the disappointed boys and girls think Obama have been lying to the American people? Perish the thought.


Advice from the right wing of the political spectrum: you don’t want the government in your life, don’t vote for people who promise to run it for you.

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Walt will be so pleased

cop and horse

You have the right and the duty to remain silent, damn it!

Three years in prison for that horse lover from South Carolina.


horse protector

Angry owner




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Sad news for fashionistas everywhere

levisLevi Strauss dead at 101.

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You don’t need to understand this article to know you’ve been screwed again

Remember when Congress banned freon to save us from the ozone hole? Turns out the replacement causes global warming [sic] so the switch is on again. result: still worse performance, still more expense and, naturally, yet another product to be banned in a few years when scientists discover what’s wrong with this one.

Here’s Popular Mechanic’s take on the subject. I can’t follow much of it, but the conclusion is obvious enough.

Fifteen years ago, the auto industry was forced to drop CFC-based refrigerant R-12 because of its liability for ozone depletion. They switched to non-CFC-based R-134a, which, as it turned out, also provided a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas liability. How much better is R-134a? Carbon dioxide has a global warming rating of 1. R-12 has a rating of 12,000. In other words, one pound of R-12 has the equivalent effect on global warming as 6 tons—12,000 pounds—of CO2. Years ago, that made R-134a’s rating of 1400 seem like a better deal. (As a point of reference, it takes one or two pounds of CO2 to dispense an entire keg of beer). But now automakers are considering a new refrigerant for worldwide use— R-1234yf. This new refrigerant has a global-warming impact number of just 4.

There is no intent to retrofit R-134a systems with the new R-1234yf, in the way many R-12 systems were haphazardly converted to R-134a. R-134a will remain available to service existing systems, and R-1234yf systems will use specific fittings, which should minimize accidental mixing of the two refrigerants. R-1234yf is slightly less efficient than R-134a. Of course, R-134a is less efficient than R-12, and auto manufacturers had to modify and upgrade systems to maintain good cooling performance when the last changeover was mandated. They’ll need to do so again.

R-1234yf will first appear in all-new European vehicles, so we might see some R-1234yf systems here by late 2011, with significant numbers starting in 2012.

Although R-134a continues to be available in small cans to DIYers, California will soon require self-sealing can valves and large deposit fees to encourage recycling of any leftover refrigerant in partially used cans. Whether R-1234yf will also be available in small cans is uncertain. Pro technicians are legally required to recover, recycle and reuse all auto a/c refrigerants. And that means that repair shops will have to purchase yet another expensive recycling machine for R-1234yf and inventory a larger collection of fittings and replacement parts, costs ultimately passed on to consumers.

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Heck, I did both

From Best of the Web:

Don’t You Wish You’d Studied Philosophy Instead of Getting Your Real Estate License?
“Land Is Worth Less Than Thought”–headline, Hawaii Tribune-Herald (Hilo), Nov. 3


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Patience is its own reward

With no contracts reported for the second straight day and the fall selling season pretty much over, it seems like an appropriate time to check out our inventory of 648 single family hiomes for sale and considering their prospects. Conclusion: Owners of high end houses shouldn’t pack their bags yet.

Inventory: (But see update below )

<$500,000: 6. Sold past 90 days: 2. Inventory: 9 months

$5-$600,000: 8. Sold past 90 days: 2. Inventory: 12 months

$6-$700,000: 16. Sold past 90 days: 5. Inventory: 9.6 months

$7-$800,000: 26. Sold past 90 days: 7. Inventory: 11 months

$8-$900,000: 22. Sold past 90 days: 7. Inventory, 9.4 months

$9-$1,000,000: 27. Sold past 90 days: 6. Inventory: 13.5 months

$1 – $1.5 million: 71. Sold past 90 days:17. Inventory: 12.5 months

$1.5-$2 million: 95. Sold past 90 days: 11. Inventory: 26 months

$2-$3 million: 118. Sold past 90 days: 13. Inventory: 27 months

$3-$5 million: 123. Sold past 90 days: 15. Inventory: 25 months

$5-$10 million: 96. Sold past 90 days: 19. Inventory: 15 months

>$10 million: 40. Sold past 90 days; 3. Inventory: 40 months

UPDATE: A pal of mine sends the following numbers based on year’s performance. I used just 90 days because so much of the period Sept. ’08 – July ’09 was dead, but if you want to really be discouraged, use his:


You’re a ‘little’ off in a couple of places, by my amateur reckoning:

$10M++ 41 active, 9 sold in past year, hence 55 month inventory

$5m-$10M 98 active, 31 sold in past year, hence 38 month inventory.

$3M-$5M 122 active, 39 sold in past year, hence 37 month inventory.

$1.5M-$$2M 94 active, 35 sold in past year, hence 32 month inventory.

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Republican porkers, just like Democrat hogs


Yeah, but we stand four square against abortion!

Republican committee members on earmark reform panel grab earmarks for themselves.

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What, me worry?

Commercial mortgage default rate soars, Dow up 148 points. “We’re only in this short term, see? Trust me, when things are ready to collapse, we’ll have already pocketed our profits and jumped off.”

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Today’s “new” listings

recyclingbinNothing coming on today will set buyers’ hearts on fire. 606 W. Lyon Farm is back at $1.595, down from its 2008 price of $2.250 so if you haven’t toured it since then it might be worth another look. Assessment is $1.234 and while there was a Lyon Farm condo sale for $1.1 this year, everything else has sold for below a million. Your call.

63 Harding is a two unit condominium that was originally priced at $2.6 million in 2006 and sold for $1.650 in 2007. It’s been kicking around since 2008 ($2 million) and has dropped now to $1.477. I don’t think the seller will be that lucky.

The Chimblo brothers must have learned their lesson on 48 Woodland which they listed for $2.695 mi8llion and sold last week for $1.790. You can now buy their other piece on that street, a full 0.13 acre, for just $995,000 but it’s strictly BYOH – bring your own house.


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We’re destroying our economy to feed the political aspirations of states attorney general. Is this wise?

Andrew Cuomo files anti-trust suit against Intel.

States are gearing up to sue banks, lenders.

The states’ new power to sue banks arose from an effort in 2005 by Eliot Spitzer, then the New York attorney general, to discover whether several banks had violated the state’s fair-lending laws.

The banks balked at surrendering any information. The Clearing House Association, a consortium of national banks, and the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency filed suit, asserting the states had no authority over national lenders.

Mr. Spitzer’s successor, Andrew M. Cuomo, took up the battle. Lower courts agreed with the banks, but the Supreme Court, narrowly, did not.

Already, the states’ victory in Cuomo v. Clearing House is beginning to affect the legal landscape. “The handcuffs are off,” said Ann Graham, a professor of banking law at Texas Tech University. “The states can pursue justice now.”

In July, the Illinois attorney general, Lisa Madigan, filed a civil rights case accusing Wells Fargo of predatory lending. While the case was in the works for 18 months, Ms. Madigan said “it would have been much more difficult to bring” without the favorable Clearing House ruling.

The impact goes beyond housing issues. In West Virginia, a case brought by the state against Capital One, charging deceptive marketing of credit cards, was blocked by a judge in June 2008. The judge said the state did not have authority to pursue the case. After the Clearing House decision, West Virginia filed a request to reinstate the case.

Other states say they are just beginning to explore their new powers.

“We’re back on the field,” said Iowa’s attorney general, Tom Miller. “That’s really important. Certainly there will be some litigation.”

Banks, drug companies, insurance companies – businesses of all types, in fact, are unpopular and it’s great politics to go after them, but hitting them from fifty different states, plus attacks from Washington, will drag us down along with “them”. Bad business, bad economics, bad policy.

Dick Blumenthal was unavailable for comment.

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Gee, I hope nothing bad’s happened to him

SP Trader, some sort of fund that was “returning” 124% a year in gains seems to have disappeared and no one can locate its principal. Anyone looked in Mustique?

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Ned Lamont is back in the running

He’s gunning for the governorship. There are already six Democrats in the fray but Ned’s got the hearts of the wingnuts for running Lieberman out of the party so he automatically goes to the head of the line.

So when is Scott Frantz going to announce that he’s running against Jimbo Himes?


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Last night wasn’t about Obama, except when it was

Nancy Pelosi asks, “where the f*** is New Jersey? Virginia? Never heard of it.” Nah, the only race that mattered last night was the NY 23rd and the Demmerkrats took the seat so, in Pelosi’s world view, “we won!”

Fine. See you in coach in two years, you old bat.

UPDATE: My pal Fudrucker says Republicans swept the Connecticut races last night. Like his pal Nancy (not my Pal Nancy) he swears it was all about something, but not about Obama. Frankie already flies coach so I can’t wish him out of his Gulfstream but I do wish him joy in sharing three-across with his new flying companion.

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Following Barry’s lead

7 crossway

7 W. Crossway

Barry Sterlicht raises his price $800,000 and suddenly everybody wants to try it. Look, Barry’s a real estate professional and he’s rich, so if he wants to sit around admiring his property for the next ten years, he can afford to – not everyone can.

I don’t know the financial situation of the owner of 7 West Crossway in Lucas Point and for all I know he’s Barry’s younger brother, but the house was bought for $2.3 million in 2004, relisted at $2.850 in 2008, dropped all the way down to $2.395 and expired unsold in April of this year. So it’s back today at $2.695 – to ask a rude question, why?



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Maybe it’s because of odor from the steak house?

gowanus canal

Ah, waterfront!

The Manero condos all took a million dollar price hit today, which still leaves them priced from $7.5 to $5 million. I still think they’d sell better with a better view, but who am I to argue with experienced real estate developers?

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Taconic Sale

10 Taconic

10 Taconic

Ten Taconic sold today for $5.75 million, quite a drop from the $8.6 million originally asked but significantly above its assessment of $4.750.



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The ten best houses on the market? I’m not saying.

A couple of readers have made the excellent suggestion that I give my opinion on what I think are the best values in town. I tried that yesterday and the response I got (sniff) was a flurry of comments from readers disagreeing. Which should serve a useful purpose for the sellers, if they read this column, because they can find out for themselves what people think of their house, rather than rely on their tactful realtor, who, if she’s nice, sugar-coats things.

But my real reluctance to publish such a list is that, contrary to what Walt believes, I make a living from this business and, thanks to this blog, I have a nice group of buyers looking for houses. They get first dibs on what’s out there, naturally, and if they aren’t quite ready – they need to sell another house, find work, whatever, and I think the house is going to stick around and wait for them, why blow its cover?

Not that there are any super secret, double-probation listings out there, but there are some that I like very much that I think are susceptible to low bids. Any agent has such a list and opinions obviously differ. As will yours.


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