Daily Archives: February 9, 2010

People are good

Buried in this story about a frozen Washington is this gem:

The storm brought out the best in some. In Alexandria, Va., a family living at the bottom of a hill on an unplowed street needed to get their teenage daughter whose cancer is in remission to an important doctor’s appointment.

Neighbors quickly converged, shoveling the entire street before many had even had cleared their own driveways. Up the street, children tired of playing outside in the snow created craft items and had an impromptu sale to benefit victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

I truly believe that, contrary to the old saw, we don’t have the government we deserve – we’re entitled to better .

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I don’t envy Obama

What do you do with this? Iran promises “punch” on February 11th. Really, what would you do as leader of the free world? Bush took Saddam’s boasts seriously and will go down in history as a terrible fool. But given Iran’s track record, do you do nothing, and wait to respond if they make good on their threats? Intervene tomorrow by bombing them back to nowhere? I sure as hell don’t know, which, as I say, is why I’m glad I’m not president.

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More reader stats

The primitive (but free) version of WordPress I’m using doesn’t allow the use of some of the more sophisticated statistic monitors that break down visitors by state – I’m not being  cheap here, but the modest cost of using the more sophisticated version of WordPress also involves some Internet savvy I’m not comfortable with – my pal Ferdinand Steyer has volunteered to help, so I think I’ll do it shortly. In the meantime, here’s a map of reader distribution just from November, 2009:

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Reader statistics

Blog Stats Summary Tables

Total views:2,769,823

Busiest day:25,375 — Wednesday, January 14, 2009 (Instalanche – Ed)

Views today:6,218

Totals

Posts:7,716

Comments:27,579

Categories:28

Tags:4,733

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Buyer broker agreements

I just learned of a friend being screwed out of a very large commission by a lawyer and a sharp, rotten buyer who verbally agreed to his terms but failed to perform at closing and in fact crowed “Hey, I f**ked you – get over it”. This is a growing problem. In the good old days of 2007, sales were all done via the Greenwich Multiple Listing Service, where sellers signed listing agreements guaranteeing payment of a commission to procuring agents and everyone was fat and happy.

Today’s market involves a myriad of players – first mortgagees, seconds, home owners, friends with temporary cash, you name it – and one party’s signed agreement is not binding on the others so even when a deal is pieced together, all the verbal promises that served as the glue are worthless. I myself put together a very small deal, with a commission that was fully disclosed and agreed to upfront by the buyer yet, just as I was patting myself on the back for putting my full, complete  effort into a tiny deal, my “client” came back wanting to renegotiate the commission. I abandoned the deal.

So screw it. My advice to my colleagues is to get everything signed for and agreed to up front, including a property lien from short sellers who won’t have the cash to pay you at closing. In bad times, good faith and words of honor are the first to go out the window.

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Pioneer Woman

I added this woman’s site to my blog roll (over to the right)  because she just seems to be capturing so many of the varied possibilities of Internet blogging and, unlike me, making income from that. But her recipes are great for newbies because she photographs every single step so that a neophyte can see, for instance, what a browned chicken breast should look like when it’s ready, or what size diced onions are. For an illustrative sample of what I’m talking about, check out this recipe of hers for chicken parmigiana – then send it to your college-aged kids so they can begin learning to cook. One of life’s essential, and most joyful skills.

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Why a tea party type political movement may succeed

I happened to click on the obituary of a local man who died at age 92 and was struck by the frank list of survivors: a daughter and “her companion”: another woman; a granddaughter with her own “companion”, sex indistinguishable by name. And here’s what I thought: I’d just read the obit of a hugely successful businessman, WWII veteran with a fine Greenwich family that has no problem openly acknowledging the various permutations of the New American Family. A party, like the Republicans, that attacks these kind of relationships is alienating an ever-growing portion of the public and is doomed. Or I hope so, anyway. Whereas, a party that truly restricts itself to core issues of fiscal conservatism, limited government and national defense could appeal to what I think is the new majority.

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New spending bill revealed

The Senate’s out with $80 billion in new spending which they’re calling a “jobs bill”.  It funds more welfare, extended unemployment benefits and otherwise rewards wards of the state, but I don’t see where the jobs part comes in, except for the label. Quel surprise.

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Look out your window (if you’re in Greenwich)

Snow’s coming

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Halsey Drive subdivision

68 Halsey Drive is 1.69 acres and has been approved for a four lot subdivision. The neighbors aren’t happy but if you want to buy into that hornet’s nest, here’s your chance – from an original price of $3.450 million in ’08, it’s down now to $1.9, or $500,000 per lot. Assessment is $2.375 so this might seem a bargain but I’d suggest viewing it as two, not four lots and pricing accordingly. At $450,000 per lot, this one still has a way to go.

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Two new listings

7 Loch Lane, new spec project cheek-by-jowl to the Merritt, is asking a $1,000 per foot for all 14,000 feet. Might work for someone.

45 Willow Road, a nice little cape by the fountain, is asking $1.690 million for 2,000 square feet. Assessment is $1.172 and I’d guess that somewhere between there and its asking price a buyer will be found.

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Cops gone wild

Felony charges for tossing snowballs at city plow, police car. There’s something bad going on in this country, with an ever-increasing distance between civil “servants” and the people. Don’t know why that is, but it seems ominous.

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Two open houses of note

876 North Street

I mentioned this house last week when its price was reduced to $2.995 million and today I got inside to see it. I liked it a lot – it’s everything a contemporary should be – light, free-flowing, great quality (including  beautiful bird’s eye maple interior doors). Top quality finishes and a very nice house. The yard’s mostly what I would call “swampy woods” but which a professionally trained real state agent would not doubt prefer to describe as “wooded wetlands” or “a nature lover’s paradise”. Whatever, there’s enough lawn to support a pool and play area and the Stanwich golf course is just through those trees so you can always send your kids over there to play. They can steal golf balls and hold them for ransom, too, thereby teaching them rudimentary business techniques. The assessment for this property is $2.6 million, so its new price is pretty good, I think.

400 Lake Avenue

400 Lake Avenue is a classic 1950’s Colonial in fantastic condition with all the important elements updated and modernized. You should know from the start that it has low ceilings – not a problem for me at all, but a definite non-starter for some people. Assuming you can get by that, this is a beautiful home that seems to me to be an ideal place to raise a family. Lots of room, plenty of privacy for each child to find his own space, a good back yard, with pool, and just an easy feel to the entire spread. I really enjoyed seeing it. Its price of $4.8 million is certainly not too low – assessment is $2.9, or thereabouts – but the market will decide its selling price, not I, so I’m staying out of that. Well worth seeing if you’re looking in this part of town.

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Oh, golly, how could this happen?

Mongo have great pain between ears

Chavez blames global warming and el Nino for collapse of electricity supply. On a related note, a quarter of Washington D.C.snow plows are out of commission due to lack of maintenance. As ye sow …

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Washington remains shut down, braces for next blizzard – government paralyzed.

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Cutting irony

Congressman Murtha died from government health care medical malpractice.

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Off to (two) open houses

Slim pickings, these days. In the meantime, New York Times lovers must – must! – read this post from Meagan McArdle.

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Bush: to criticize my policies is to help Al Qaeda

What a friggin’ loser, questioning the patriotism of his critics! Doesn’t he know that dissent is the highest form of patriotism? What a Nazi! – Oh – wait, it’s Obama who’s saying that. Never mind!

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Greenwich’s new budget

Unveiled by Peter Tesei yesterday. Whatever you think of individual allocations, I will tell you that, from a real estate agent’s perspective, the fiscally conservative philosophy of this town’s government is a huge selling point to buyers from “away”. At least, and probably more important than Tod’s Point and our schools. So keep it up.

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Shocker: New Jersey politician is a crook

The Wall Street Journal’s out with a story on New Jersey’s Senator Robert Menendez’s latest bit of corruption. I used this particular worm as a character in my first novel, Stocks & Bondage way back in 1994, when he was still just a greedy grasping, totally corrupt Congressmen. My novel was never bought by a publisher while Menendez was rewarded by New Jersey voters with higher office and the opportunity to steal on an even grander scale. So, see? There is justice in the universe, it’s just a bit different than some of us may have thought.

UPDATE: Too funny – someone else has been admiring this clown’s career and follows it with an entire website, RobertMenendezcorruption.com. Don’t you just love the Internet?

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