Daily Archives: October 14, 2010

Questions that answer themselves

What, me worry?

Roger Simon: Is California insane? The voters on the left coast seem ready to elect Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer, the Demmerkrat candidates for governor and senator, respectively, and Mr. Simon wonders why. Here’s why: We as a nation, and certainly Californians, still believe in a free lunch. You can have a green economy, clean air, free medical care, great schools and well paid union workers, all at no cost. All that’s needed is to cut “fraud and waste” and presto! We’ll witness the restoration of the garden of Eden.

So, it would seem that we’re still a few election cycles away from bellying up to the reality bar. Hard to believe, but things will have to get even worse before voters get it. And things will get worse.


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If we just pass enough laws, we can make a perfect world

NYC Council orders dual flushing mechanisms for toilets, one for caca, the other for pee. You want to save water? Install water meters. This sort of insanity is going to kill New York – slowly but surely.

A study by the non-profit Urban Green Council estimates that simply by changing some of these commonly used fixtures could knock that down by 5-7 gallons per person, per day. More efficient cooling systems could potentially save between 150,000 and 200,000 gallons per year, it found. And changing water fountains would also encourage the use of reusable water containers, thus saving the city millions in the cost of recycling plastic bottles, the study said.

Council Minority Leader James Oddo (R-Mid-Island), who voted against the water fountain and “toilet” bill, along with colleague Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore), said some of the measures reach too far.

“When does it stop? Does it stop when we micromanage every minute facet of our lives? I want people to drink water as much as the next guy, but to make it part of a law so that someone does not have to tilt a water container to fill it up?” Oddo said.


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But, but …

Our president promised to save us money! Connecticut insurer granted fee hikes of 41-47% to cover additional costs of ObummerCare. Someone should coin a phrase along the lines of,”there’s no such thing as a free lunch”.

Jim Himes was unavailable for comment.


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Slowly, oh so slowly

28 Windrose Place

This Mead’s Point home started off two years ago asking $17.5 million and has been falling ever since. Today it got a new broker and a new price: $9.85 million. At least that’s closer to the assessed value of $8.3. What were these people thinking?


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47 Shore Road

There was not much wrong with this new construction in Old Greenwich except, perhaps, its back-lot location. But it wouldn’t sell at $4.990 back in August ’08, and it lingered, gradually dropping to a final asking price of $3.695, which was probably closer to the mark. I see that the seller has also contracted to sell his late mother’s place on Meadowcroft (to Mariani, I hear, but I don’t know that). Has he given up on Greenwich? I wouldn’t blame him if he has, but this was really more about poor pricing in a soft market than anything else.

163 Old Church Rd

Here’s another loser in the pricing game. This started at $3.750 million in 2008 and is finally pending after dropping to $2.495 (assessment is just $1.669). The trouble with silly pricing is that the seller eliminates all the advantages offered by the multiple listing service. Yes, you have a thousand agents all working to sell your home, but we can do nothing for you when you’re being stupid.

9 Hillside Drive

Asked $3.495, 2009, dropped to $2.395, now pending. See comments above.

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This looks like a pretty good price

63 Winthrop

I haven’t seen this house yet – it just came on today, but at $1.649, on 0.4 acre and renovated back in 1992, it seems to be well priced for the street and the neighborhood. Assessment is $1.2 so given Riverside’s premium over that number, I think it’s well worth checking out. It’s owned by a relocation company, and they tend to be more realistic than private owners.

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Now we get into the fraud part


Debtors' Prison

You really have to read the underlying article, Reuters’ Felix Salmon’s report, to get the full flavor of what’s about to explode, but Business Insider has a nice summary: basically, banks like Bank of America hired a third-party to spot-check the loans it was buying and learned that, on a sample of perhaps 5% of the total package, 45% were fraudulent. Fine: BOA forced the sellers to make good on that slice of loans, but then proceeded to sell off the remaining 95% without warning the buyers that probably 45% of the loans were no good. And B of A was just one of the major banks engaging in this scam.


Really – it’s time to resume practicing law. Real estate used to be easy, compared to lawyering, but this stuff? Shooting fish in a barrel.


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Getting what they paid for

Home to roost

Long article in the NYT today on the troubles leading up to this foreclosure mess. It pretty much comes down to this: the real money was selling loans and packaging them for resale. Servicing those loans was an afterthought, with total profit per loan over its lifetime, maybe $500. So naturally, they hired “Burger King Kids” (a slur on Burger King, so far as I can tell), invested no money on talent or computers, and were swamped when the foreclosures began. Each foreclosure, by the way, costs $2,500 and up, and so wipes out at least four other productive loans. Bummer.

They banks admit they have no idea who owns what, and I’ve experienced this myself in the past year. I have literally millions of dollars in offers out there on behalf of clients who want to buy troubled homes, but, as one bank’s lawyer admitted to me, “we don’t know enough about the loan to sell it with any confidence that we have the right parties”. Picture my little office, multiply it by tens of thousands, and you’ll begin to grasp the problem.

I’ll admit to being on the lower half of the bell curve, but so far, I haven’t read a single suggestion by any genius that offers a solution to all this. One will surface, eventually, because this can’t go on, but in the meantime, we’re in trouble and going nowhere.


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I blame Gore

Early snow headed for England. Bitter winter predicted.


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Well at least he finally showed some initiative

Son stabs parents to death after they call him lazy.

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Queen cancels Christmas party

I know, who cares? But the Sun’s headline, “Oh glum all ye faithful” is worth a shout out.

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Nor’easter coming in tonight


There goes the damn fishing!

Big storm tonight and tomorrow. The first nor’easter of the season seems to signal the end of striped bass and bluefish catches, and the action switches to bottom feeders like blackfish and scup. At least that’s my experience. It’s been almost twenty years since I’ve had a child there, but memory tells me that this first storm always fell right around parent’s night at St. Paul’s nursery school. Anyone out there know when that’s scheduled? Just curious.



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Who was that guy?

The Daily Mail devotes an article to Manuel Gonzalez, the rescue worker who was the first to go down to the Chilean miners and the very last man to leave. The Mail calls him “the bravest man in Chile” and he certainly has my vote. Glad to see him get some mention for his heroism.

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