Daily Archives: August 13, 2013

I don’t begrudge the son of a bitch his deep-fried Twinkies, but …

First Slobby

First Slobby

I do wish he’d just STFU and stop with his scolding lectures to us, the little people. Obama digs into fried oysters, fried clams, fried shrimp, onions and freedom fries while enjoying his vacation among the rich.  We are told we owe it to the nations’s health care system to force spinach on ourselves and our children but that doesn’t apply to the Great One. We’re told to sacrifice while the same week the president and his wife take separate flights to Aspen, his children jet off to the Bahamas and then they all go on safari to Africa. (Have we mentioned Bo the dog being flown up to the Vineyard in his own helicopter to spend quality time with the First Family? No greenhouse worries for that; the aircraft undoubtedly runs on $75-a-gallon hemp oil). We’re lectured about our greed and selfishness while Obama vacations in his friend’s $8 million weekend retreat and hobnobs with more of his rich friends in Westport, NYC and the West Coast.

And so on. The trouble with this goes beyond the hypocrisy it exposes; the president of the United States is demonstrating that he is above the people of his country, free to do as he chooses while he tells us how to conduct our own lives. He’s not tone-deaf or clueless, he just doesn’t care. Kings have been deposed for less.

UPDATE: Chris R sent along this link to Bill Whittle’s take on the same topic. $250 million Osprey to take a dog to the island. God forbid the First Dog either travel with the First Family or stay in a kennel.

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Well hellllooo, sailor!

Navy undercover cadets

Navy undercover cadets

Sailor proposes to boyfriend upon the latter’s return to shore. We’ll leave “submarine”, “torpedoes” and even “dive, dive, dive!” alone, but I’ll admit to finding this just a bit …off putting. Sue me.

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I had one of these available for just three days this weekend, and couldn’t get clients to bite. Maybe I should move to California.

BackflipFlipping luxury properties for fun and profit in LaLa Land.

Brzeski is a private money lender running an investment firm in Los Angeles that provides loans to house flippers – investors who buy a home, refurbish it, and sell it at a profit. Many flippers turn to money lenders because they cannot get banks to provide such short-term, quick financing.

Eighteen months ago Brzeski and his firm, Arixa Capital Advisors, were lending investor money to flippers on very different properties: $250,000 single family homes in southern California’s up-and-coming lower- to middle-class blue-collar neighborhoods. Most of the deals involved foreclosed homes that were totally refurbished, and then sold quickly.

No more. Brzeski now focuses on developers working on high-end flips of mansions and townhouses in exclusive neighborhoods, such as the Hollywood Hills and Bel Air.

And he is not alone. There has been a surge in high-end and luxury flipping nationwide. Between 2011 and today, flips of homes valued at $1 million or more have risen almost 40 percent across the United States, according to RealtyTrac, the housing data company.

Between 2011 and 2012, high-end flipping soared 456 percent in Phoenix (150 properties from 27); 867 percent in Orlando (29 homes from 3); and to 73 properties from 10 in Las Vegas, according to RealtyTrac. To qualify as a flip for the figures, a home has to be bought and sold within six months.

Brzeski says two main factors combined to send him upmarket in the projects he lends on.

Newly flush Wall Street investors moved into the mid-market with so much money that they bought nearly every foreclosure in sight, mostly to rent. The Blackstone Group, for example, spent $5.5 billion on 32,000 homes across America, according to the firm. American Homes 4 Rent, the California-based real estate investment trust founded by self-storage billionaire Wayne Hughes, spent $3.3 billion, on more than 19,000 houses.

“These Wall Street guys employed huge dollars,” Brzeski said. “These firms came to the courthouse steps and bought everything in sight. So the low- to mid-market dried up.”

Brzeski said he had originally been wary of the high-end market, because of the much bigger sums involved and thus greater risk. But then in 2011 he financed the purchase of a house in West Hollywood for $1.425 million. Another $1.175 million was spent on a total refurbishment.

“When the developer put it on the market, they had multiple, all-cash offers,” he said. “There was a line out the door to buy it. It sold for $3.5 million. This was an incredibly profitable project. This really opened my eyes.”

Blomquist also sounded a warning for anyone who thinks flipping is easy. Many who try, suffer catastrophic losses.

“It’s 10 times as risky doing high-end flips. Unfortunately what happens a lot of times, flippers have a property, then they can’t find a buyer to purchase it.”

Brzeski’s business model is simple. Using a fund of investor money he lends 75 percent of a project’s “hard costs” – that is money used for the purchase and refurbishment – and collects interest at an annual rate of approximately 10 percent.

Usually the loan is repaid within six to 12 months. He does not share in the profit made by the flip. Brzeski loans between $1 million and $4 million on each project.

Another factor, unique to California, helps him fund luxury flips, said Brzeski. Because of a 1978 voter initiative law knows as Proposition 13, the tax assessments of California houses have increased dramatically less than home values since the law was enacted, as long as the home has remained unsold.

Now, owners who had been reluctant to part with their large homes since the early 1970s because of “Prop 13” are dying, or are finally ready to downsize.

“Almost all our homes in these A and A-plus neighborhoods have something in common. You look at the appliances in the kitchen. If they are from the 1960s or 1970s, that’s the house to flip,” Brzeski said.

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Mid country sale and contract

 

21 Mountain Wood

21 Mountain Wood

21 Mountain Wood, $2.8 million, has sold. I really like this house and so did its buyer. Your tastes may differ of course, but that’s why, until the socialists take over completely, we have different kinds of homes.

 

 

 

 

 

33 Boulder Brook

33 Boulder Brook

And for those with more conventional yearnings, 33 Boulder Brook was available until today, asking $5.495 million. It sold for $4.882 in November, 2011, so I can’t imagine why it’s selling for more but presumably it is (its contract, but not final price, was reported today). Certainly a sign that the free fall in mid country ended (new, this tried and failed to get almost $7 million back in 2008), and is inching back.

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Oops! Never mind

He was never here

He was never here

Obama reelection campaign schedules global warming soiree in Georgetown today and when no one shows up, airbrushes the event off its site.

Not a single person showed up at the Georgetown waterfront Tuesday for a climate change agenda event put on by Organizing for Action, the shadowy nonprofit advocacy group born out of President Obama’s 2012 campaign,the NRCC wrote in its blog.

The event page for the “Climate Change Day of Action Rally”disappeared after rainy weather appeared to drive away whatever people planned to attend. The embarrassing showing follows the news that only one volunteer stayed for an OFA Obamacare event in Centreville, Va., last week to work the phones.

Do you suppose the attendees were scared off by the rain or were they all busy driving their Priuses to the Vieyard to worship at their master’s feet?

Here’s what used to be the link.

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 4.46.50 PM

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Lest we forget

Weekend cabin of Mr. Jonathan Sobel

Weekend cabin of Mr. Jonathan S. Sobel

NYT’s Deal Book (about the last portion of that paper I still check in on, from time to time) has a nice look back at the subprime mortgage scam, bringing us up to date on some of the home owner/borrowers, the investment bankers who sold the loans, and the naifs who bought them. Guess which group is doing well?

You can read the entire article if you’re interested (informative stuff) but I suppose this is the bottom line:

One of Mr. Sparks’s former Goldman colleagues is Jonathan S. Sobel, who also left Goldman in 2008 and is also a defendant in the federal action. A year ago, Mr. Sobel and his wife acquired a duplex apartment at 740 Park Avenue, one of the city’s most coveted addresses, according to New York property records. They paid $19.3 million.

I was thinking it would be nice if Mr. Sobel rented Walter Noel’s place in the Hamptons so they could discuss what the term “scot free” means, but it turns out Jonathan already has his own place, currently on the market for $21 million. Perhaps he can just stop by Walt’s for a spot of tea.

We can’t lock up all investment bankers, I suppose, not even all Goldman partners. But with Obama’s vow to stop incarcerating so many drug dealers, surely there’s now room for a few of them?

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Price war in the backcountry and … the waiting game

 

98 Lower Cross Rd

98 Lower Cross Rd

98 Lower Cross Road asked $1.950 in June and got into a bidding war that month. Sold today for $2.050. This was my brother Gideon’s listing back in 2009, when it sold for $1.850 million. Despite its ridiculously non-conforming size; 0.5 acre in the R-4 zone, it’s a very nice house inside and backs up to the Babcock Property, so you won’t run out of recreational space. It’s a reach to town but obviously there are people out there willing to deal with that. I know I would.

2 Sheldrake

2 Sheldrake

And behind the hospital, 2 Sheldrake, what the new listing broker describes as an “interesting” split-level is back at $1.296 million after expiring unsold this past April at $1.155. The owners have been trying to sell this since at least 2010, when they priced it at $1.290, so they clearly are in no rush to move it. The recovering market will probably enable them to get their price, eventually.

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Filed under Back Country, Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Downtown Greenwich

The wisdom of overpricing a property (for the listing broker)

Le Cos Cobber, $3.1 billion

Le Cos Cobber, $3.1 billion

Business Insider has complied a list of the most expensive home in each state (there are 51 on the list, so presumably they received help from the president in compiling it), and, quelle surprise, David Ogilvy’s listing of the Greenway’s property is #1 at $190 million.

I’m sure that, like Ogilvy’s, most of these homes will end up selling for less than a third of their original price but in the meantime, they, and more importantly, their brokers, get tons of free publicity. So no real harm done, but no particularly useful information is provided by these articles, either.

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And now a brief detour into real estate news

It’s the dog days of summer, although you might not notice that on this drizzly, cool day, and real estate transactions aren’t just popping off the screen – hence our emphasis on other matters.

But there are a few reported each day, and here are four.

12 Chieftans

12 Chieftans

12 Chieftans, the old carriage house at what was once the Gimbel estate, sold for $2.650 million, exactly what it sold for in May, 2011. Dodged a bullet there.

74 Old Orchard

74 Old Orchard

74 Old Orchard, Riverside NoPo (north of the Post Road), broke the record for this street and sold for $2.2 million. A redone 1948 split level, it was nice enough when I toured it during broker open house but I really didn’t expect it to fetch so close to its $2.4 asking price. One of us is crazy: buyers in even the fringe areas of Riverside, or me. I suppose it’s me.

33 Highland Farms

33 Highland Farms

And after 918 days on the market 33 Highland Farms Road reports an accepted offer on its asking price of $6.5 million. This wasn’t a bad house at all, if you could get past its yellow brick exterior, and these sellers paid $6.9 for it in 2005, so I suppose the new buyers figure they’re getting a bargain.

191 Lake Ave

191 Lake Ave

191 Lake Avenue, not many people’s favorite stretch of that road, has a contract, asking price, $1.387 million. This started out at $1.875 in April but the owners wisely didn’t stick around at that price for long, waiting for a buyer to appear. Cut deep and quickly, says I.

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From the official FWIW NYC research department, information on the boat in question

Here’s a description of M/V Flyaway. No pictures, yet.

Location
Featured Listings
BoatsAll Boats Builders/Suppliers Models

FLYAWAY

Common
Year Build: 1983
Hailing Port: GREENWICH, CT
Identification
Official Number: 656206
Hull Number: BERH0699M83D
Dimensions
Hull Length: 32.7 feet ( 10 meters )
Hull Breadth: 12.3 feet ( 3.8 meters )
Hull Depth: 6.8 feet ( 2.1 meters )
Gross Tonnage: 18
Net Tonnage: 14
Construction
builder: BERTRAM YACHT
Hull Material: FRP (Fiberglass)
Hull Shape: Ship
Year Build: 1983
Owner
Owner: PETER SILBEREISEN
Owner Address: 30 RIDGE RD, Cos Cob, CT 06807 UNITED STATES
Performance

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GPD protects its own, even when they’ve retired

Boat removal a la Habana

Boat removal a la Habana

Why on earth has it been necessary to involve all three of our Selectmen in the matter of an illegally moored boat? Because our police chief is interfering.

Days after First Selectman Peter Tesei endorsed Harbormaster Ian MacMillan’s order to remove the badly placed mooring of a former Greenwich cop, a notice of violation has been served and ignored, accusations of child pornography have materialized and the mooring in question continues to bob in the middle of a public channel.

“What should be a very routine process of mooring removal has developed into a theatrical circus and there are many stars,” said Selectman Drew Marzullo. “It’s become `The Wild Wild West’ show on the waters of Greenwich. It’s `Pirates of the Caribbean’ on Windrose Way.”

The mooring at the center of the dispute sits in the channel maintained by the Windrose Way Association on Mead Point. It is owned by Peter Silbereisen, a retired Greenwich policeman who still serves as a special officer.

A year ago MacMillan deemed Silbereisen’s mooring a hazard to navigation and ordered its removal. The mooring had not had a permit in two years, nor had Silbereisen paid the annual $100 mooring fee for four years, according to MacMillan.

But Silbereisen did not move his mooring and Greenwich police said MacMillan exceeded his authority by ordering its removal.

Earlier this month, the town’s three selectmen visited Silbereisen’s mooring by boat and concluded that it is an obstruction to other boaters. With the support of the town’s chief officials, MacMillan on Thursday mailed a notice of violation to Silbereisen, giving him a 48-hour deadline to remove the mooring.

“[Silbereisen]  called me on Friday and said that he got the letter and because of the letter he called (Police Chief) Jim Heavey and because Jim Heavey didn’t get the letter, he told me that Heavey told him to do nothing,” MacMillan said.

… Tesei said he spoke with Heavey, who explained he was concerned that MacMillan referenced marine police on a notice of violation they had not been given an opportunity to read.

On Sunday, MacMillan set out by boat to see whether Silbereisen had moved the mooring. He brought with him a camera.

When he arrived at the site, MacMillan said Silbereisen and several other boaters were gathered around the mooring, though not tied up to it. He started snapping pictures.

MacMillan said he was holding the camera to his eye when he heard Silbereisen’s voice requesting police assistance on the marine radio.

“What he said was that I was taking pornographic pictures of small children swimming in the water,” MacMillan said. “He made a false report. The purpose of my photos was to document the illegal mooring and the vessels around it.”

MacMillan motored over to Marine Police Headquarters and handed over his camera.

Tesei said MacMillan was wise to take the photographs, and he agreed they are not pornographic in nature.

“I’m disappointed and disgusted quite frankly with that characterization,” he said. “It’s beyond the pale.”

As for the mooring, Tesei said it will be removed.

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Screwing students, “completely unqualified to teach”, a lying hypocrite: How is this guy different from any other feminist studies professor?

Male feminist intellectualMale professor of female issues admits to sleeping around with co-eds, cheating on his wife, sexting porn stars and never having taken that mandatory class of all victimhood studies, “Our Vaginas, Ourselves”.

He referred to himself as a ‘breathtakingly cocky fraud,’ and said it was time for the truth to out.

He wrote, ‘So the real story you all missed is that I talked my way into teaching women’s studies on the basis of 2 undergrad courses only.’

The professor, whose area of expertise is actually ‘British medieval church history,’ admitted to never having published an academic article on feminism.

His work for sites such as The Atlantic and Jezebel, was, he said, a way of getting attention, and that while he loved his students, ‘I loved the attention more and I was f***ing awesome at getting it.’

‘I appropriated the language of redemption, I knew which buttons to push, I used sex and charm and whiteness and it usually worked.’

I repeat: how’s this guy different from his colleagues?

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It’s not your money, it’s the people of the world’s money

Celebrating the UN's "Year of the Woman"

Celebrating the UN’s “Year of the Woman”

US government pays $1.5 million to help Brazilian women quit smoking.

Judicial Watch:

A Brazilian-born researcher who runs minority health programs at a public university in Alabama has convinced the U.S. government to give her $1.5 million to help women quit smoking in her native country.

A noble cause indeed, but likely not on the high list of the American taxpayers funding the project. Nevertheless, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, has given the Brazilian researcher, Isabel Scarinci, a five-year, $1.5 million grant to fund her international tobacco-control project.

The goal is to better understand “women and their tobacco-related issues” in the South American country, especially in Scarinci’s Brazilian hometown of Parana. In the last two years alone, the researcher has received north of $560,000 for the initiative, according to NIH records for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

Here is what Uncle Sam’s generosity is getting us, according to the NIH: “An understanding of women and their tobacco-related issues” as well as the “development of gender-relevant tobacco control efforts.” Wait, there’s more information from the NIH to justify the grant, though it’s unlikely to keep Americans up at night: A “smoking epidemic is rapidly spreading to women in developing countries.”

Dress up a grant request in the proper politically correct language and there’s no limit to what our government will take from the rest of us and “redistribute” to you.

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If only the effects could be limited to the spawn of these idiots, I’d be okay with it

Typhoid Mary slouches toward Malibu

Typhoid Mary slouches toward Malibu

California (naturally): No vaccines for Richy Rich, so he’ll probably infect your child.

But the great bulk of children face a far greater risk of harm from disease [than of peanut, cheese and assorted food allergies]. If the goal is really to protect children, I’d like to see all schools declared “unvaccinated-free zones.”

The law in California mandates that students in public and private schools be immunized, but it also allows easy-to-get exemptions for personal beliefs.

Although some 90% of the state’s kindergartners are up to date on their immunizations, it is not uncommon for individual public elementary schools to report that more than one-third of their kindergartners are not.

And if you’re thinking this must be a problem unique to schools in low-income neighborhoods, think again. One of Malibu’s three elementary schools reported that just 58% of its kindergartners were up to date on their vaccinations, and some other affluent areas throughout the state have schools with similar compliance rates.

Private schools vary widely, but some have rates of less than 20%. Yes, that’s right: Parents are willingly paying up to $25,000 a year to schools at which fewer than 1 in 5 kindergartners has been immunized against the pathogens causing such life-threatening illnesses as measles, polio,meningitis and pertussis (more commonly known as whooping cough). In order for a school to be considered truly immunized, from a public health standpoint, its immunization rate needs to be 90% or higher.

Parents have varied reasons for choosing not to immunize their children. Some are concerned that vaccinations raise the risk of autism, although study after study has debunked this myth. Others, concerned that small bodies can’t tolerate so many vaccines at once, have decided to spread out the schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though there is little evidence to support this practice. Some parents think that because some of the illnesses for which kids get immunized are extremely rare these days, there’s little reason to vaccinate.

But here’s the reality: These diseases do exist, and we’re already seeing some of them make a comeback.

If Greenwich Time still employed reporters, it could see what our own schools’ policy is, and our immunization rate. Might make for interesting reading.

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