Daily Archives: May 14, 2010

Well, this is bullshit

From a frustrated , would-be buyer:

Dear Chris,

I hope this message finds you well. I am writing you to share a really bad experience that we had negotiating XXX in Old Greenwich and I would like to ask you what are we supposed to do the next time we enter into a negotiation to prevent from this happening again or if this is just either a common practice in the market or a risk we have to take. The house has been on the market for more than 12 months and it was initially listed at $XXX and today it’s at $xxx. We started offering $xxx given that the house needs extensive updating and it was the price we considered to be market price. After two further offers and their respective counteroffers we reached an agreement at $xxx Each time we made an offer they took more than 1 week to get back to us. According to the sellers there were several executors of the Estate that needed to be reached. Right after we had an accepted offer (submitted in writing and received by the seller’s broker), the inspections and appraisal were made.  Our lawyer received the contract and worked on it with the seller’s lawyer. The day scheduled to sign the contract; the seller’s lawyer neither forwarded the final language nor gave any explanations. The following week we did not receive any communication from the sellers although our lawyer tried to contact them several times.  Our broker tried to contact the seller’s broker but she was vacationing on a cruise. The next week, the seller’s lawyer told our lawyer that the executors could not reach an agreement but they did not tell us on what matters. When the seller’s broker finally contacted our broker, she told us that there was no problem at all and the transaction was per agreed and that as soon as she comes back from vacations she will put the property status in the MLS listing as pending. Then our lawyer received the message that the executors could not reach an agreement on any aspect. Again, the seller’s broker said to our broker that there was no issue with the transaction.

After one more week, we found out online through the brokerage house website that there was an open house scheduled for this upcoming Saturday. The seller’s broker said the open house was already scheduled and she couldn’t do anything about it. We decided that it was enough and withdrew our offer. We have to acknowledge that we have never experienced this lack of unprofessional behavior in any transaction before. Not even buying a car.

Based on your experience, is this something that happens frequently? We are really looking forward to hearing your views.

First of all, a sale by a bunch of heirs is always going to be trouble, because some will want their money now, others will have absurd ideas of what the property’s worth (Greenwich? Millions!) and it’s just a goat f**k.

But second, a realtor who tells you she’s powerless to cancel an open  house is either a complete friggin’ liar or a hopeless incompetent. Either way, this poor buyer is screwed.

I’m not sure what to advise this writer. It’s not his own agent’s fault that he’s been jerked around, but he’s wasted time and money on a useless transaction. So what? Stay away from estate sales? Bad listing agents? (if only!) This is an embarrassment for my “profession”. I just hope Walt doesn’t read this!

UPDATE: You know, I’m thinking – I deleted the address and price of this house, but maybe I shouldn’t have, It’s Shady Lane, in Old Greenwich. Beware.


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It’s at least as old as Civil War suppliers of “shoddy”, but maybe we should shoot these bastards

Army helmets recalled, fail to meet standards. Traitors! Hang them high.

The Army is recalling 44,000 Advanced Combat Helmets amid concerns that they offer substandard ballistic protection.

All the helmets are made by ArmorSource LLC, formerly Rabintex USA LLC.

“There is evidence that ArmorSource and Rabintex ACHs were produced using unauthorized manufacturing practices, defective materials and improper quality procedures which could potentially reduce ballistic and fragmentation protection,” according to an All Army Activities message released May 14.

To think that some executive at this company could go home at night and sleep.


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Cousin Henry’s on the job

The boy does good work, even if he does write for the NYT. Here’s his latest on the attempts to shut down the Gulf oil well.

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Roast this turkey

The WSJ’s James Taranto:

Mr. Holder told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that the Arizona law “has the possibility of leading to racial profiling.” He had earlier called the law’s passage “unfortunate,” and questioned whether the law was unconstitutional because it tried to assume powers that may be reserved for the federal government.

Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, asked Holder to elaborate. FoxNews.com has the transcript:

Poe: So Arizona, since the federal government fails to secure the border, desperately passed laws to protect its own people. The law is supported by 70% of the people in Arizona, 60% of all Americans and 50% of all Hispanics [see note below], according to the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll done just this week. And I understand that you may file a lawsuit against the law. It seems to me the administration ought to be enforcing border security and immigration laws and not challenge them and that the administration is on the wrong side of the American people. Have you read the Arizona law?

Holder: I have not had a chance to–I’ve glanced at it. I have not read it.

Poe: It’s 10 pages. It’s a lot shorter than the health care bill, which was 2,000 pages long. I’ll give you my copy of it, if you would like to–to have a copy.

Even though you haven’t read the law, do you have an opinion as to whether it’s constitutional?

Holder: I have not really–I have not been briefed yet. We, as I said, have had under way a review of the law. I have not been briefed by the people who have been responsible–who are responsible for that review. . . .

Poe: You have some concerns about the statute. And it’s–it’s hard for me to understand how you would have concerns about something being unconstitutional if you hadn’t even read the law.

It seems like you wouldn’t make a judgment about whether it violates civil rights statutes, whether it violates federal preemption concepts if you haven’t read the law. So can you help me out there a little bit, how you can make a judgment call on–on that, but you haven’t read the law and determined whether it’s constitutional or not?

Holder: Well, what I’ve said is that I’ve not made up my mind. I’ve only made–made the comments that I’ve made on the basis of things that I’ve been able to glean by reading newspaper accounts, obviously, television, talking to people who are on the review panel, on the review team looking at the law.


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We should all look this good at 85

Ma’s off to a dinner party.


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Bob Horton on property asessments

With a little help from Chief Sachem.


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ObamaCare: $115 billion in the hole and it hasn’t even started!

Geeze, you’d think that maybe the critics had a point!


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Here’s a shocker: your tax dollars wasted on “Green” jobs

What, government waste? Boondoggle in Texas. And across the country, doubtless.

Sheltering Arms Senior Services won a contract worth $22.3 million in stimulus funds to weatherize homes of low-income families in Houston, but a new report from Texas Watchdogreveals the work performed was so shoddy that 33 of 53 homes will need to be fixed.

The contract, awarded under theAmerican Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is the second largest weatherization contract in Texas, running through March 2012. Yet with nearly two years left on the agreement, Sheltering Arms Senior Services is already under fire after a state report criticized the Houston-based firm.

Among the problems noted by Texas Watchdog’s Mark Lisheron:

  • The firm spent nearly half of the money on administrative costs, while the legal limit is 5 percent.
  • Spot inspections revealed 33 of the 53 units require workmanship corrections.
  • The firm was asked to refund $5,000 because 15 window replacement jobs did not meet energy savings standards.
  • The state asked for reimbursement for a false claim that a stove was installed in one of the units.
  • Work could not be documented, documents were missing and data was either wrong or incomplete.

Sheltering Arms was given 30 days to respond, but as of yesterday, it had not addressed the state’s concerns.


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The market’s dead

It’s only 2:30 so I suppose there’s time for new developments but so far, there’s nothing going on. No sales, no contracts, nada. Yet I know I’m not the only agent with a quiver of buyers – and not bottom feeders, either. They want value, and sellers won’t yield. It’s a crazy situation – we could be having a boom selling period, but sellers are holding fast to their dreams of yesteryear.

So nothing sells.


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This is fun

From reader AA, this clip of NJ Governor Christie. AA asks, “How do we get this guy to move to Connecticut?”  I don’t think we need to – leave Christie to reform New Jersey and let’s bring on our local talent. Scott Frantz certainly seems up to the job.


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Why it’s fun to be politically incorect

Because we get to ask interesting questions, like how come the Supreme Court is now comprised of Catholics and Jews? A great question. The author of this article, a conservative, Jewish law professor, tosses out the idea that Jews are heavily over-represented in the legal profession and tend to be liberal, so that’s the pool Democrat presidents fish in, while Republican presidents, forbidden to ask about Roe vs. Wade, pick Catholics in the hope that they’ll be anti-abortion.

Look: it’s really a no nevermind matter, but it’s still an interesting issue – I’ll bet even the PC crowd would like to discuss it but they don’t dare. We who feel free of prejudice and aren’t ashamed of that can have a great time gnawing over lots of verboten topics. It’s a blast! Try it.


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Currents and cross currents

Retail sales, industrial output up, Dow down 198. Will Europe collapse and drag us into a world-wide depression or can America recover on its own? Stand by.


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On Comments

I was out with a client this morning and the comments piled up. I apologize. My policy here is to moderate – approve all comments – and I approve probably 99.999% of them, weeding out only the worst racist remarks and personal attacks on other commentators (I’m fair game, though). So if almost everything gets posted, why go through the exercise? Because that’s how I started this blog, and I’ve been hugely impressed with the intelligent, thoughtful comments that come in. My experience with other blogs is that unmoderated comments quickly degenerate to rubbish. So maybe Greenwich readers are just civil by nature – an entirely likely proposition, or maybe knowing that comments are moderated keeps the worst of the trolls from screwing things up. Either way, that’s my policy. Keep those comments coming, please, but understand that there can be a lag between your submission and my posting. And thank you.


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Euro crashes below $1.24

Le Big Mac just got cheaper


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No one’s going to steal my house!

The Dow’s going to hell, Europe’s going to hell, and sellers here in Greenwich are sticking to their guns. God bless them. I have so many really good, solid bids out there that have been rejected by builders and homeowners convinced that 2007 is right around the corner, it amazes even this cynic. Are people really that stupid? Yes they are.


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For supposedly bright people, these guys are slow learners

Wall Street fat cats shun Obama’s fund raiser. Duh


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Here’s a decent little house

20 Center Drive

I wasn’t particularly impressed with this place a year ago when it was asking $879,000 but today it’s been cut to $799. Walk to town, Dundee School, if you want it, and 3-4 bedrooms. Assessment is $659 and somewhere between that and its new price, a deal should be struck. It’s no mansion, but if you’re looking to get into Greenwich at an affordable price, this one looks good.


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And the trouble with America

We have been invaded – what are we going to do about it?


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The trouble with Greece

They are so screwed. Best bet for them is to withdraw from the Euro and default, for what – the 55th time in their history? They’re nuts to make their citizens suffer for the next five years only to ultimately default anyway. But here’s a funny story from Der Spiegel on what they’ve been up to:

One of Greece’s purported saviors is a short, rotund, 72-year-old man named Leandros Rakintzis. He was once a respected constitutional judge on the country’s highest court, the Areopagus. Since 2004, he has been the head of a government agency that is the first of its kind for Greece. Rakintzis is Greece’s general inspector of public administration.

His body twitches and shakes with delight as he talks about his successes and discoveries. For example, he discovered that on weekends, hospitals admit elderly people who require nursing care or are confused because their children bring them there so that they can take a few days of vacation. This, of course, drives up healthcare costs.

He also discusses an administrative office called Kopais, named after the lake of the same name near Thebes, which was established in 1957. The purpose of the office was to prepare for the draining of the lake so that roads could then be built in the lakebed.

In that same year — which is now over half a century ago — the lake disappeared forever. But there are still 30 employees working at Kopais today. When employees retire or are let go, their positions are filled with new employees, who are paid monthly salaries of up to €2,500 ($3,175). They supposedly work on drainage issues, but no one knows exactly what those issues are or who benefits from their work.

Unbelievable Stories

Rakintzis has stories to tell that take place throughout Greece, and some are downright unbelievable. For example, the government agency that was created to manage a bid to make Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, a European cultural capital in 1997 is still humming away. Its employees are supposedly working on winding down the major event and settling up the accounts — 13 years later.

How many people work there? “I don’t know. Not even the government knows that,” says Rakintzis. He adds, in an almost threatening tone: “Not yet.” Rakintzis and his staff are now in the process of investigating about 4,000 government offices and agencies in similar situations.

Bloated Public Sector

Greece has more than five times as many civil servants per capita than the United Kingdom. The country’s inflated government apparatus consumes tens of billions of euros a year. It’s money the Greek state doesn’t have — and actually never did. Greece’s gross domestic product is only slighter higher than that of the German state of Hesse and is just one-tenth the size of Germany’s total economic output.

For this reason, the government has been borrowing fresh funds on the international capital markets for years, generously and cheerfully spreading the wealth among its citizens. The introduction of the euro made it even easier to incur debts because, by joining the common currency, Greece qualified for lower interest rates than anyone would ever have thought possible.

But now the bubble has burst. Greece threatens to turn into another Lehman Brothers — except on a whole new scale. The €300 billion in debt that the country has accumulated poses a threat to the entire European community.

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Here’s an oddball, but fascinating story from the LA Times

Tennis in San Quentin Prison. Really – it’s a great read; try it.

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