Daily Archives: November 17, 2009

A new vocation for the Noel family?

There’s a serious shortage of coconut pickers in India and the industry is threatened. Seems fewer people want to climb a hundred feet up and whack away with a machete before falling to their death below. Wussies. But, problem, opportunity! India needs nut pickers, the Noels need jobs, and presto. Have fun Walt, and be sure to write.

Of course, there’s an alternative source of labor, unemployed lawyers and investment bankers.It seems the coconut folk tried using trained monkeys for the job but animal cruelty laws put paid to that experiment. Well lawyers and bankers have skill levels at least approaching a trained monkey and no one anywhere, cares what’s done to them, so …..


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Cap and trade dead in the Senate but wait, there’s more!

The Senate’s giving up cap and trade for now and probably forever; leaders say they’ll consider it next spring but even the dumbest of senator can figure out that an election year is not the time to triple voters’ energy costs. But those who want to wreck the economy have a better trick up their sleeve: the EPA which, under a bad law passed by Congress and a worse 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court, has the authority to enact by regulation what the Democrats can’t do politically. So it will, and the results will be horrendous. Economic recovery, anyone?


Momentum for a climate bill has been undermined by fears that capping carbon-dioxide emissions — the inevitable product of burning oil and coal — would slow economic growth, raise energy costs and compel changes in the way Americans live.

“It’s really big, really, really hard, and is going to make a lot of people mad,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.).

Democrats looking ahead to the 2010 midterm elections are concerned about a backlash from voters in industrial and heartland states dependent on coal. Republicans are portraying Democrats’ “cap and trade” proposals, which call for capping overall U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions and allowing companies to buy and trade permits to emit those gases, as a “cap and tax” scheme.

Meanwhile, the administration is moving ahead with a plan to have the Environmental Protection Agency declare greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, a danger to public health. That would trigger potential regulations that could affect a wide swath of the economy.

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Sheee’s back!


Anyone seen my tent?

Olga Kogan, last heard from when she withdrew her application to build a replica of Orly Airport at 18 Simmons Lane is back before zoning again, this time with a modest proposal to replace a swimming pool, re-do a driveway entrance and remove a few walls. Uh huh.



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Obama planning a $3 trillion income tax increase?

That’s the balloon being floated by his people. They’d repeal all the Bush tax cuts, not just the already doomed capital gains cuts “for the rich”. What?  You don’t remember Bush cutting taxes for the middle class? Just wait a bit and you will be painfully reminded that he did.

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Can’t afford to sell

A reader points to the example of friends of hers who would like to sell their house, purchased in 2005, but the offers they’re received would wipe out their equity and thus their ability to buy a new home. I suspect that a lot of the houses in our inventory have the same tale, so no wonder the market’s dead – no one can afford to sell at the market price.

So okay, those homes are going nowhere. What baffles me are the owners of the 285 homes currently facing foreclosure who won’t even counter offers which would at least get them out of their difficulties. It’s one thing to deny reality and hang on for mythical better times when you have the luxury of doing so, but when the sheriff’s at your door, time’s running short. I can’t say I’ve bid on all these houses but there’s one I did: it has a $1 million mortgage under foreclosure, we bid $1.1 on their asking price of $1.495 and they said, “go away”. Which we did, but their lender won’t. Who do they think will bail them out?


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Child abduction stymied when children run away

hey, little boy, ever seen a grown woman naked?

We can’t give Chief Ridberg credit for this one (although he did issue the driver a ticket for an unfastened seat belt later on) but an all points bulletin for a man in a black, feathered hat who had tried to abduct some elementary kids was cancelled when a grandmother fessed up.

WEST HARTFORD — – The creepy man who schoolchildren said tried to lure them into his car Friday turned out to be the well-intentioned grandmother of fellow students, police said today.

The woman told police she had asked the three Wolcott Elementary School students if they needed a ride because they were out in the rain. She left after they said no, she told police.

Police said no crime was committed.

The children had told police that a male driver, between 20 and 40 years old, pulled up alongside them and twice tried to coax them into his car. He was wearing a black hat with a feather in it, they told police. School officials commended the students for their response, which was to run away.

The grandmother, who is 69, was wearing a hat with a feather at the time, Lt. Donald Melanson said this morning.

Part of the children’s confusion about the driver’s intentions may have stemmed from the fact that there was a bit of a language barrier, he said.

“She spoke broken English,” Melanson said.

We’re raising a nation of whimps.

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What recession?

Imagine no possessions - I'm telling you I can

A relative of mine who also happens to sell real estate has been posting here recently crowing about stock market gains, corporate profitability and, presumably, coming peace in the Middle East. Ah, that’s the advantage of being a little brother- you can be completely, dead wrong, and you’ll still get a Christmas present from your indulgent better.

But Gideon, here’s the problem with your happy view: 1. Corporations have not “discovered a way to stay profitable” – their earnings are up because they’ve fired people and slashed costs. Their sales are down, their revenue is down and when they run out of costs they can cut, bad things will happen. 2. Unemployment is much, much higher than the 10% reported because it doesn’t count the non-payroll jobs: independent contractors, employees at the deli, etc., who make up a huge portion of the workforce, and, as Seeking Alpha explains, those losses are staggering. 3. Housing prices are in the toilet and have further to go. We’ve seen the equity of every buyer since 2002 wiped out and we’re on our way to further losses. You can’t erase billions of dollars of wealth from the broad population without serious consequences. 4. (and 5,6, etc). Congress is preparing to raise taxes on employers and employees, triple the cost of energy and kick inflation into high gear. None of this should give you cheer.

Did I mention Obamakare?


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Got a pricey house to unload? Take a number

In the past 12 months 31 single family homes closed in Greenwich at $5,000,000 or more. Twenty-one of those sold in the past six months, six sold in the past 90 days.

We have 135 houses currently for sale at $5 million or more. Four point three years inventory? Five point six? More?


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There’s the headline, and then there’s the story

Southern California home sales rise, prices firm.

October marked 16 consecutive months in year-over-year gains in sales in Southern California, fueled by a rush to take advantage of the federal tax credit for first-time buyers, low mortgage rates and attractive home prices, the report said.

It added that the regional housing market’s seeming stability following a vicious slump may be “contrived” and fleeting because of the extent of government efforts aimed at ending the broader national housing downturn.

“The government is playing a huge role in stabilizing and, to some extent, reinvigorating the housing market,” said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president. “The real question now is how well can the market perform next year as some of the government stimulus disappears.”

“The more upbeat outlooks suggest a strengthening economy and job market will help pick up the slack, and that demand for lower-cost foreclosures will remain robust,” Walsh said. “The more negative forecasts assume, among other things, a much slower economic recovery, more foreclosures than the market can readily digest, and more turbulence in the credit markets.”

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Just call me “The Donald”, then

Doctors say “breast awareness” trumps self-examination.

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Why isn’t he still dead?

This country’s worst president and worst ex-president, James Earl Carter, is still mucking around the planet, still spewing peanut fumes and flatulence. Today he’s in the dictatorship of China (Chavez was too busy to see him) building houses that the Chinese government is apparently too poor to build itself. Best of all, he’s explaining that, sure, he could have attacked Iran to free our hostages, but that might have caused the death of Iranians, and he just couldn’t risk that.

Next week it’s off to bow to the Japanese emperor.


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Lawyer dies in Soviet prison

While capitalists and Obama are rushing to befriend Putin and Europe is handing its entire energy needs to the same man, reporters, bankers and lawyers are being killed, businessmen stripped of their wealth and tossed away to rot in Siberia, the rule of law is ignored and the Russian army is rebuilding. Wishful thinking and ignorance are not good substitutes for investment savvy or a foreign policy and this will not end well.

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The irrational exuberance of 2006

16 Benjamin Street, OG

This sold for $4.375 in 2006. It came back on earlier this year asking $4.395 but 2009 is not 2006. Price is down as of today to $3.750, but assessment is $2.9, and I think there’s still room for the seller to regret his earlier enthusiasm.

On the other hand, 14 Tomney Road, off Stanwich, asked $1.449 in September and has gone to contract today, so lower end is selling. the assessment on this one is something like $523,000, but I suspect the appraiser never caught up with the renovations.

14 Tomney

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“Motivated Sellers”

11 Mountain Wood Drive

That’s how today’s open house schedule describes the owners of this property, now marked down to $3.3 million, and well they should be, after 2 1/2 years of trying to move this thing. This was a nice house, custom built in the 1970s and completely obsolete by today’s standards. It’s on two acres off Lake and not too far from town, period. So where was it priced originally back in 2007? $6.25 million. No buyer is that dumb, but the price hung up there for years, through three different brokers. The owners tried Sotheby’s, then The David Himself, and now Raveis but the house wouldn’t sell, despite beautiful gauzy ads in Greenwich Time and Greenwich Magazine and salesmen who, to quote one illustrious broker, “sell our listings; they don’t ‘show’ them.” It was the price, stupid, and now that that is approaching the assessed value of $2.493, maybe this will finally move.  No advertisement, no matter how beautiful, and no salesman, no matter how skilled, is going to sell your house for twice its value and if you’re told that’s not so, you deserve to wait, sucker. Time motivates even the most stubborn seller, eventually.


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Cos Cob price reduction

210 Bible Street

210 Bible Street’s a nice house, if you like this sort of look, and the street is very pleasant at that end. But the seller may have confused his address for the proper price when he listed it at $2.10 million. He’s marked it down to $1.950 today, but I wonder if that’s enough? He paid $1.525 for it in 2002 and, while improvements were made, I’m seeing a lot of houses trading for their 2002 value, regardless of improvements. Assessment is $1.3.

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Chickahominy does its part for moderate housing

10 Lyon

The current seller of this 1949 original paid $695,000 for it in 2006 and repriced it at $679,000 in 2008 when he went to sell it. He’s marked it down since then and today, with an asking price of $489,000, it’s under contract.

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Wait’ll next year – if you can

When Barry Sternlicht raised the price on his unsold property on Old Mill Road, a builder I know, sitting on his on unwanted spec project since 2003, announced that he was going to raise the price on his own failure. “Barry knows real estate,” he crowed. “The market’s coming back.”

Perhaps it is, or will, but Sternlicht’s Starwood Properties just announced a third quarter loss. Sternlicht professes to be unconcerned, and why not? Since taking the company public it’s shareholders getting hammered now, not he, but more importantly, Starwood has the resources and financial strength to wait out bad times – my builder friend, sadly, is no Barry Sternlicht.


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Obama on Global Warming: “Delay is now an option”

We deniers are winning here, maybe. Nothing coming out of Oslo. It’s not much of a victory, but we’ve moved along from November 19th 2008 when the One declared exactly the opposite. Thank goodness for the recession. Obama is still touting cap and trade as  jobs creator but people are beginning to see through that lie and with unemployment above 10% even whacko Demmerkrat senators can see the folly of crushing our economy under huge new expenses. Don’t forget: depending on which eco-nut you choose to believe, if we delay this nonsense for just two or three more years, “it will be too late”. We have NASA’s Dr. Hanson’s word on that.

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Don’t call it a death panel – we’re doing this for your own good

Panel recommends mammograms begin at 50, not 40, and repeated once every two years, not annually. It’s just about as effective so unless you’re Ms. “Just-About”, you need not worry. And don’t forget, since society is now going to be footing your medical bills, all of your health care decisions are belong to us. Just relax.

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Good lord, even the Chi-coms know ObamaKare’s bust

Communist leaders question cost of U.S. healthcare reform.

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