Daily Archives: April 10, 2010

Mortgage rate hikes are not helping you sell your house

Greenwich home sellers who are holding out for their desired  price now have a new enemy: interest rates are scaling up. Buyers are controlled  by monthly payments: they can pay you more, or their lender more, but the size of the pie stays the same. Someone wins, someone  loses. Keep your price where it is and see what happens.

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Kinda what I’ve been thinking

The horrible crash that killed Poland’s leader and nearly 100 of  its top people came when their Soviet TU- 154 crashed, an airplane so unsafe that even the Russians won’t fly them. A bad plane when made, it’s pure junk now, and, budget concerns or not, you don’t load your entire top command into just one of them lest, as Poland has just so sadly discovered, disastrous results occur.

SUNDAY UPDATE: It seems possible that the President may have ordered the plane to attempt a landing.

During the Russian-Georgian conflict over South Ossetia, Kaczynski flew to Georgia to show support for the Georgian leader. The president, as the supreme commander of the military, ordered the pilot to land near the breakaway republic and the military pilot respectfully refused, saying it was too dangerous and that Kaczynski may be his supreme commander on the ground, but not in the air.

Eventually, he landed at a safer airport and the president had to take a really long drive in a motorcade. Upon arrival, an angry Mr. Kaczynski told reporters that it was unacceptable for his orders to be ignored like that and decisions about his travel be made “on such a low level.”

Many today have asked me how it’s possible that Poland, a country that can easily afford whatever airplanes it wants for its officials, thoughtlessly packed so many officials into a single Soviet-era aircraft.

Unfortunately, it’s insanely normal. When Tusk was flying to Moscow, he took with him a very prominent group of officials that included several cabinet ministers and chief executives of two major refineries, PKN Orlen and Grupa Lotos, as well as executives of gas company PGNiG.

Now the Soviet-era fleet is grounded and the safety rules for the travel of public officials will probably change. Too late.

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I’ve said this before, often, but when the NY Times says it …

Public open houses don’t sell houses. Brokers hold them to placate sellers and make it appear that they’re doing something to move your over-priced P.O.S. Really – Bill Raveis once showed us the statistics: open houses sell about 1% of the time. It’s all about finding potential buyers, not selling your house, the same as advertising. Those glossy ads in Greenwich Magazine are placed to soothe your ego but, more importantly, to attract other sellers  who are thinking of listing their homes. The ads don’t sell your house.

Think about this: a listing agent who shows your house has, one hopes, spent time with his people and has determined that they are serious buyers with the financial wherewithal to buy a home. If he or she shows up at your house with those people in tow there’s a damn good chance that they have selected yours from a dozen competitors and are seriously interested in yours. A public open house, on the other hand, draws lookers, idle people with nothing better to do with their day and, at best, serious home buyers who have no particular interest in your house. You’ll clear out of your house for this? Fool.

If you doubt any of this, consider how often your own agent doesn’t conduct an open house but instead consigns it to a novice. That’s because she knows no real buyer is going to show up (and her commission is protected in the rare instance one does, because she’ll flip the sucker fifty bucks, if anything at all, for her services that day) and the novice attends solely in the hope that she’ll meet buyers she can turn into clients of her own.

Nothing wrong with that – it’s how I gained some of my best clients when I was starting out – but if you, the homeowner, think that a public open house is accomplishing anything useful for you, think again.

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Doesn’t anyone read the news these days?

Swim coaches molested,  filmed naked students. Turns out, swim coaches make Catholic priests look like choir boys (and wouldn’t the priests love that!) but that’s not too surprising. What amazes me is how one coach, now doing 33 years in prison, was busted:

FBI agents became aware of the pictures after a North Carolina woman bought the coach’s computer on E-Bay and discovered a video clip of a young girl in a locker room appearing to be taped without her knowledge. A subsequent search of Hindson’s home turned up more locker room footage and a large selection of child pornography.

Really: is there anyone out there who doesn’t know that you don’t sell your computer or send it in for repair if you’ve got child porn on the hard disc? How clueless are these people?

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I hate to give Chief Ridberg ideas but …

Is that a taser in your holster, officer, or are you just glad to see me?

In Greenwich, we usually send our cops to get their own blow jobs from the Korean massage parlors in town, but here’s an entertaining story from Pennsylvania, where the cops supplied money to an independent under-the-covers informant and let him have all the fun. I’m thinking that our Chief might want to provide a little distance between his troops and the whores, now that we have a new set of commanders and, supposedly, a regime transformation under way.

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Dan Malloy – just another disappointment

I have a slight acquaintance with Dan Malloy  - we both toiled in the trenches of the local courts back in the 80′s – and I always found him to be a likable, competent guy. And, from this side of the border, I watched and  respected his service as Mayor of Stamford because he seems to have done an excellent job keeping that city in order – no easy task. He’s now running for Governor, and since he’s a Democrat in a Democratic state, I was thinking of voting for him as the best man who has a chance of winning.

But I was hugely disappointed to go onto his campaign website today and discover that he’s just a hollow, tax the rich, Demmerkrat populist like the rest of his crowd. We’re really doomed here, because, if I’m right,  Malloy is the best of this sordid lot destined to rule our state, and he’s just another redistributionist, determined to drive successful people from our state. Here’s his policy on taxation, for instance: boil off the lard, and he’s promising to raise taxes on Greenwich and the richer of his own Stamford residents. There’s no mention of the state’s having doubled its payroll in twenty years, no suggestion that we cut spending. Malloy is playing to his base, and will tax non-state employees to the hilt and make them squeal, damn it!  Time to move, but until I do, I think I’ve just found a new project: defeat this man!

As Governor, I will initiate long overdue comprehensive tax reform for our State. Establishing comprehensive tax reform will be a multi-year endeavor that I will begin pursuing immediately upon taking office. Reform will be guided by 5 key goals. Real tax reform must:

Be sustainable, comprehensive and address the balance of state and local taxation

Provide for a fairer and more progressive sharing of taxation

Ensure a greater and more equitable state share of local funding for schools

Strategically generate job growth and encourage business development

Relieve the local property tax burden on low and middle income seniors, veterans, and individuals who are disabled

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So why aren’t houses selling?

Following up on the  previous post, I was thinking: I’d guess that buyers (and I) consider the houses currently for sale to be, on average, 20% overpriced. Sellers probably think their own house is just 5% off the true value, and that 15% difference is keeping buyers and sellers apart. You wouldn’t think that such a relatively small spread would prevent sales from happening, but it is, especially because the sellers respond with venom when presented with a “low” offer.

So I am showing distressed sales almost exclusively these days. They take months to consummate because of the convoluted structure of our banking system, but at least the sellers – banks – realize that the game is up. The ordinary Greenwich homeowner does not, and is still insisting on cashing the paper profits he thought he’d accumulated in the past decades.

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This is only complicated for sellers

35 Boulder brook

I see that the owners of this run-of-the-mill mid-country house have fired their broker and brought in someone else, along with a slightly reduced price. Ho hum.

This place is assessed at $1.2  million so anyone with even a stirring of nerve life could have predicted that its original asking price of $2.475 a year ago April was guaranteed to ensure it wouldn’t sell. And it didn’t.
So the owners have now endured a full year of inconvenience, keeping their house ready to show, letting their schedule be disrupted at the whim of non-buyers, while gradually whittling down their price.
As of yesterday, they are asking $1.895, which is an improvement, but the property now has the stigma of being a year on the market – buyers see that and ask, “if no one else wants it, why should I?”
I long ago ran out of sympathy for sellers. If they insist on overpricing their houses and refuse to acknowledge reality, that’s entirely their choice, but I won’t waste my or my clients’ time showing those properties and certainly won’t grieve when, years down the road, their house sells for a fraction of what it might have gotten had it been sensibly priced to begin with.

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Good advice regardless of budget cuts

Ohio county judge to newly un-policed citizens: “Be vigilant and arm yourselves”.  This particular county has run out of money and fired most of its policemen, leaving just one on duty per shift to cover 720 square miles. We had pretty much that same situation when I lived in Maine – response time for the staties was about 3 1/2 hours. I kept a shotgun in the house and didn’t worry.

And I didn’t have to fear being tasered by bullies in blue.

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Spring has sprung

Cormorants returned to Ole’s Creek last week and this morning I spied my first osprey of the year. These are both fish-eating birds, so if they’re back, so then must be the fish – at least, according to human logic – bird brains may differ. Either way, winter is over.

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Greenwich Avenue post office cancelled

(Photo, Greenwich Time)

The USPS has decided to abandon its 1917 building on Greenwich Avenue. No complaint here – the feds abandoned this building years ago when they moved operations to Valley Road, and there’s been no excuse for its existence since. According to Greenwich Time, the place is down to just four employees rattling around the 17,000 square foot mausoleum. And, though GT won’t say so, the attitude of those four survivors: rude, surly and unhelpful, won’t be missed.

But what will replace it? That will be interesting. I’m sorry that Apple went for the old movie theatre down the block, because this could have been a really cool site for them.

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New Jersey Teachers Unions must be Tea Party advocates

Death wish expressed toward Governor Christie. If I have the mainstream media meme right, this sort of violence is a Tea Party phenomenon.

UPDATE: I have no problem with jokes in poor taste – those are my specialty – but take a look at who this Union chief’s favorites are – that’s alarming!

The e-mail in question was sent by Bergen County Education Association president Joseph Coppola in the form of a prayer, which said:

“Dear lord,’ this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor.”

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The Stevens Hotel, Chicago

Word of Justice Steven’s intention to retire from the Supreme Court has stirred a number of stories about his past to the surface. Of them all, this one  from Chicago Magazine about his family’s creation and loss of the world’s largest hotel is, to me, the most fascinating.


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