Daily Archives: May 25, 2010

Guest columnist

I couldn’t have said it better myself. From a Greenwich colleague:

Walt,

Relax.

Most if not all clients now ask for comps and stats to understand what’s going on in the market. I regularly give clients reams of info on the current market.

These are sophisticated buyers and sellers with all the info now at their fingertips.

Unrealistic sellers will tend to ignore the facts before them and most buyers are emotional anyway so the facts they see don’t always matter.

Don’t blame the RE profession.

I find that most clients who have a lot of money tend to feel that they know more than their realtor and act accordingly.

That’s why you have overpriced listings and frustrated buyers.

This spring I had 2 sellers (old clients)who wanted to list properties that they bought in 2007 for 15-20% MORE than they paid. These are highly educated Wall Street investors. The first client didn’t like my price opinion, eventually listed with another agent , got zero action and rented it to try again when the mkt goes down another 10%. The other I’ll just put on the mkt and play the multiple price reduction game because he won’t listen to reason.

Again, don’t blame us. Most sales people will tell you what you want to hear..that is until the market tells you differently…2 years and 25%-30% later.

The game goes on…the most successful agents in this town are the best liars..they will pump you up, telling you how great your property is and when it doesn’t sell in 12 months, they’ll explain how the market turned or some other BS excuse, rather than tell you in the very beginning that your original price was ridiculous.

Every agent knows these overpriced houses – most of the listing agents will whisper that the listing price wasn’t their price…so we wait…and wait..for the owners to get real….and the game goes on…and on…and on…

Unfortunately for a lot of sellers, they will have missed the market and end up losing 100s of thousands or millions.

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Another ad – I like this one!

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Looking good, Billy Ray!

An email from Pal Walt reminded me to mention that I saw Trading Places again last night. Remember the scene where Mortimer and Randolph explain to Billy that, regardless of whether their clients make money  on a trade, Duke & Duke earns a commission?  It’s as funny today as it was in 1983. My mother, who has two real estate agents for sons, found it hysterical, as well she should. Great movie.

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We’ll have the most transparent Congress ever

Democrats shut down disclosure of agricultural subsidy payoffs. Not the subsidies themselves, mind you, just who they’re paid to.

Remember Scotty Pippen, the former NBA star? He was also a farmer. That’s right, a real hayseed, who was so good at it that the federal government paid him $130,000 over a five-year period not to grow crops.

I was able to report that fact back in 2002 because of the work of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in posting on its web site a massive database of federal farm subsidy recipients maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Every couple of years, using the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and often only after overcoming official resistance,  EWG would update the database and there would be a flurry of news stories about celebrities, professional athletes, journalists, and others who clearly were not farmers being paid millions of tax dollars by USDA not to farm.

Well, you can forget about updating that story any time soon because USDA is no longer updating the database. Seems that the Democratic Congress in 2008 changed the law that previously required the department to maintain the database to say that doing so was merely optional.

The federal farm bureaucrats naturally opted out of disclosing how much they were paying people like former ABC News White House correspondent Sam Donaldson and multi-millionaire David Rockefeller not to grow crops. No doubt the decision was made to “save tax dollars.”

As you can see from my 2002 column, the action in 2008 by Congress culminated efforts that stretched back at least to the days in 2001 and 2002 when the Democrats controlled the Senate under then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-SD. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA, was chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Now, the Center for Public Integrity reports that USDA paid nearly $16 billion in such subsidies in 2009, but finding out who got those billions will be all but impossible in the future, thanks to the decision against updating the database.

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National Association of Realtors: liar liar, pants on fire

NAR, the “professional” group I am required, under the by-laws of the Greenwich Association of Realtors to belong to, has just issued a puff-piece stating that the housing crash is over. Go out and buy a house, people! What a crock of s**t.

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Some contracts, more deluded sellers

31 Dandy Drive, an acre with a house, listed at $999, assessed at $899, found a buyer within 42 days.     

9 Circle Drive

 

9 Circle Drive, sold for $1.875 in 2007 (not by me, thank God), was last listed at $1.450 and has a buyer. Assessment, $970,000.     

196 Stanwich

 

196 Stanwich Road, priced at $5,400,000 back in 2005 eventually dropped to $3.695 and, presumably will be selling for less than that, but does have a contract.     

Is it the sellers who are clueless or their brokers? Beats me.     

Why waste our time? 

There are a ton of new listings on today all of which, in my opinion, are so overpriced that they don’t merit discussion. Next year.

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Jamie Moyer – accuracy beats velocity

Great profile on Jamie Moyer, who will probably soon set the record for most home runs yielded up in a career. On the other hand, he’s 47-years-old and still pitching, which, while allowing him time to give up so many home runs, has also given him a career any baseball player (or wannabe) would envy. Fun story.

For pitchers, there is no more painful moment than when their handiwork is walloped over the fence. Given that the average home-run trot takes 21.89 seconds, according to a Marquette University data coordinator, Mr. Moyer has spent a full three hours—the equivalent of one game—doing what pitchers dread the most. In a sense, though, this record that he’ll soon set is a mark of greatness. The pitcher at the top of the list, Mr. Roberts, who died this month, is in the Hall of Fame. So are Nos. 3 (Ferguson Jenkins), 4 (Phil Niekro) and 5 (Don Sutton). Giving up that many home runs is a testament to longevity, a sign Mr. Moyer must have been doing something right to hang around this long. Indeed, he has the most wins, 263, of any active pitcher.

“I’m not sour about it; I’m not bitter about it,” he says. “I’ve had enough repetitions to create this.” His 24-year career has been a study in quiet steadiness. After winning 34 games during his 20s, he became a reliable double-digit-game winner through most of his 30s. His best years were 1998-03, when he had five sub-4.00 ERA seasons for the Seattle Mariners. Still, he has only made the All-Star Game once, when he went 21-7 in 2003, at age 40. Mr. Moyer is also famous for his velocity. That is, the lack of it. In an era when many major leaguers throw 90 miles per hour, and one reliever, the Detroit Tigers’ Joel Zumaya, regularly hits 100, Mr. Moyer’s fastball averages 81.4 mph. And it’s not like he had it and lost it: He threw in the mid-80s when he was a prospect. He has succeeded because of his precise control and his ability to keep hitters off-balance, which he does by using both sides of the plate. “I don’t know that there’s ever been a major-league baseball player who’s done more with less,” says George Bennett, who coached Mr. Moyer at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

The scouts had started to notice him at St. Joe’s, but one day, with several of them in attendance, Mr. Moyer served up a grand slam in the first inning. “By the third inning, I looked to my left and to my right, and nobody was there,” says Chicago Cubs scout Billy Blitzer, who stuck around. The Cubs wound up taking Mr. Moyer and a waify righthander named Greg Maddux in the 1984 draft, two outstanding choices that defied baseball’s devotion to measurables like velocity and size. Mr. Moyer throws so softly, even laymen are convinced they can hit him. Howard Eskin, a sports-talk-radio host on WIP in Philadelphia, has said on-air that he wishes he could face Mr. Moyer. “I just can’t believe he gets people out,” Mr. Eskin says. “Is that disrespectful? I don’t think so. I can’t even figure out whether I’m criticizing him or if I’m just amazed. I’m just amazed that he gets as many people out as he does.”

Indeed, Mr. Moyer is off to a decent start this season, with a 5-3 record and a 4.30 ERA, including a complete-game shutout of the Atlanta Braves this month. But then there are the homers. Mr. Moyer has allowed 10 this season, tied for the second most in the majors through sunday. Lifetime, Manny Ramirez has taken him deep 10 times, the most of any hitter, according to Baseball-Reference.com, a statistical website. Once at Safeco Field in 2006, Mr. Ramirez and the Boston Red Sox tagged Mr. Moyer for five homers in a single game.

The first big-league homer Mr. Moyer allowed, to Phillies second baseman Juan Samuel, occurred June 23, 1986, in Mr. Moyer’s second major-league game. The final score: Phillies 19, Cubs 1. Mr. Moyer remembers vividly. “I was back in my hometown [Philadelphia], a couple of busloads of people came down, my parents were there—and I get knocked out of the game in the third inning,” he says. “If I could’ve crawled from the mound underneath the Astroturf to the dugout, I would’ve.”

Mr. Moyer’s willingness to challenge hitters inside also has led to home runs, as such pitches are easier to launch than outside ones. He also has pitched in some hitter-friendly ballparks like Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Boston’s Fenway Park (briefly) and Seattle’s Kingdome. His current home, Citizens Bank Park, is one of the most notorious home-run parks in the majors. But he says he likes pitching there, even though he knows he’s going to get hit. “There probably aren’t a lot of pitchers who like to come here to pitch,” he says. “The mind set for me is a little different. I’m not concerned about my ERA; I’m concerned about giving us a chance to win.”

Although his contract expires after this season, Mr. Moyer says he doesn’t know when he’ll retire. (Pat Gillick, who once was Mr. Moyer’s general manager in Seattle and who acquired the pitcher when Mr. Gillick was the Phillies’ GM, thinks he’ll try to pitch at least until he’s 50.) Mr. Moyer also has a charity, the Moyer Foundation, that helps distressed children.

One plus for Mr. Moyer is that his arm hasn’t changed much over the years. Because he never could blow hitters away, he never had to adjust to not being able to, as so many other pitchers do. “You’re right in saying that,” Mr. Moyer says, “but try pitching with the stuff I have.”

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Obama admits he’s a racist, deploys 1,200 troops to Arizona – Mexico border

From ‘what problem?” last week to soldiers today, something must have happened. Perhaps Obummer rose from his knees, looked past the midget he was apologizing to and saw what was happening down there.

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Oh please – warnings on food?

Just as I won’t encourage my daughter to accept employment in a war zone, so too did we try to guard our children against dangerous food and other adventuress. We dodged a bullet when Katie inhaled an M&M peanut into her lungs and was saved by the great staff at Greenwich Hospital, but we were also blessed when Sarah fell out a window, twelve feet, and landed on a pile of rubber hose her lazy father had finally coiled just that afternoon, instead of concrete. God doesn’t always provide but my kids should be glad that he does occasionally, in the place of their father.

So this plan to demand warnings on food strikes me as misplaced, notwithstanding the lead-off story of a poor little girl choking to death on popcorn, I mourn for that child, but the federal government cannot protect all of us, all of the time. If you serve your infant a hot dog, for heaven’s sake, cut it up!  You don’t need a federal law to figure that out.

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A father’s second thoughts

I’d been encouraging my newly graduated daughter Sarah to take a job in Japan or Korea translating English, because I thought she’d have fun and meet some great people. If there’s to be war over there, however, I‘d rather she stay home.

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If your 401 K has suffered, take heart: you’ll be able to support union pension plans instead

If my sacrifice can save one UAW worker from discomfort, it's all worth it!

You’ll end up in a cardboard box on the street, but you’ll be warmed knowing that your tax dollars – $165 billion and climbing – went to reward the unions who supported Obummer. This is how liberalism works: the wise and beneficent take from the greedy and redistribute to the deserving. Got that? Now stop complaining!

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Sell ING Bank short, today

It’s lost its corporate mind

Myths that home prices rise forever and interest rates stay low forever are alive and well in Australia. Please consider this amazing story of corporate insanity as described in the Sunday Telegraph – Revealed: The home loan that could save you a fortune.

ING Direct, Australia’s fifth largest lender, is preparing to sell loans that have no fixed term and no requirement to repay any capital along the way.

At current rates, the interest-only loans would cut repayments on a $300,000 mortgage by $5000 a year.

“People are needlessly being denied the chance to buy a property while prices spiral rapidly out of their reach” ING Direct CEO Don Koch said. “There is an urgent need to provide more affordable options and borrowers should be able to choose whether they want to repay the capital, or not.”

Mr Koch wants to position the bank as a “mortgage partner for life”, with borrowers carrying the same interest-only loan from property to property for as long as they wish, accumulating equity from rising house prices as they go.

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And just one more ad

(Notice the erect tiger tail)

Though she was a tiger lady, our hero didn’t have to fire a shot to floor her. After one look at his Mr. Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her. That noble styling sure soothes the savage heart! If you’d like your own doll-to-doll carpeting, hunt up a pair of these he-man Mr. Leggs slacks. Such as our new automatic wash wear blend of 65% “Dacron®” and 35% rayon–incomparably wrinkle-resistant. About $12.95 at plush-carpeted stores.

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Speaking of old ad campaigns …

John Gilbert hawks Luckies

My grandfather made money doing the same thing.

Comments Off on Speaking of old ad campaigns …

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“Little noticed” provisions in ObummerKare

Well, that happens when  Jimbo Himes was the only Demmerkrat to claim to have read the entire bill, and even he admits that he just looked at the pictures. “But I buy Playboy for the articles”, says he.

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Ads that (probably) won’t work anymore

From reader Michael Balog, here are some fun ads

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Blumenthal: “I’m sorry I was caught lying”

Via email to the media. Just in time for Memorial Day.

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Should be an interesting day in the market – sell that house yet?

Markets aren’t doing so well around the globe, which usually means a fun day in the canyons downtown.

UPDATE: This was posted at 6:00 AM. As of 10:30, Dow’s down 230 points. Hang on.

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