Daily Archives: January 22, 2015

Question and Answer

Norwegian woodheads

Norwegian wood (heads)

Q: Is Norway really the most livable place on earth? The Telegraph, Jan. 07, 2015

A: Norwegian soldiers sent on naked jog catch frostbite. The Telegraph, Independent, January 22, 2015

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Game changer?

We're going to (bomb) Disneyworld!

We’re going to (bomb) Disney World!

Libyan faction seizes central bank and with it, $100 billion in gold and cash. That could fund some major weapon purchases and exotic, expensive terrorism attacks – lucky us.

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Quick sale on Round Hill

409 Round Hill Rd

409 Round Hill Rd

Doron Sabag and Jim Hoffman’s project at 409 Round Hill Road was priced at $5.5 million 15 days go and already reports a contract. The two paid $1.3 million for this 1 1/2 acre lot in the 4-acre zone, but still managed to build a large – 5,000 sq. ft. home on it and, being the builders they are, created a beautiful home. If the house suits your needs, I can’t see the advantage of four acres compared to an acre-and-a-half.

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The balkanization of parking lots

signFemale veteran is upset to find  a nasty note on her car after she parked in a “reserved for veterans” space. I understand her annoyance at someone assuming that a woman can’t be a veteran, but I’m more upset to discover yet another expansion of the special privilege parking allocations clogging our lives.

We started by reserving spaces close to shops for cripples – a fine thing, and one that makes sense, given the difficulty of walking (some) handicapped drivers suffer from. But now, up on the Merritt Parkway, there are now spots designated for “high occupancy “vehicles” and “low emission vehicles” – different spaces for each, and in other areas, I’ve noticed special spots for cars with “babies in strollers”. And today it’s veterans, “to honor those who fought for our country”. Noble sentiments, but haven’t most of us served our country in one fashion or another? How about spaces reserved for taxpayers, who paid for the roads more travelled on? How about one for me, for quitting the practice of law and removing one litigator from the planet?

In the pc world we live in, everyone is “special” and deserves special treatment; unfortunately, there just aren’t enough parking spaces to give us all a warm, fuzzy feeling, and isn’t that sad? Still, we’ll just have to suck it up, and get on with our lives.

Maybe we can reserve spots for those of us attempting to do just that.

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We’ve seen this before but, for now, good news for some borrowers – and what could possibly go wrong?

We don't know, but whatever it is, we'll do it

We don’t know, but whatever it is, we’ll do it

Banks lowering down payment deposits to as low as 3%

Even jumbos are dropping from 20% to 15% and even 10%.

WSJ: It is getting easier for some buyers to land a house with less money up front.

More lenders are lowering down-payment requirements, allowing borrowers to commit 3%—or even less—of a home’s purchase price to get a mortgage. Most had been requiring down payments of 20% or more since the recession began, with a few exceptions.

Some lenders also are waiving mortgage-related fees, and more are allowing down payments to be made by other parties, such as the borrower’s family.

The deals are aimed at buyers with good credit scores and a steady income who have been unable to save enough for a sizable down payment. They are often targeted at buyers who live in expensive housing markets, where even a small down payment can equal tens of thousands of dollars.

The trend toward lower down payments has picked up since mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac , which buy most mortgages from lenders, recently lowered the minimum down payments they will accept to 3% from 5%. The changes are driven by an Obama administration effort to make homeownership affordable to a wider group of buyers.

Borrowers should be aware that small down payments leave them more at risk of owing more on their mortgage than the property is worth should home values in their market decline, says Jack McCabe, an independent housing analyst in Deerfield Beach, Fla. In addition, borrowers likely will incur higher costs over the life of the loan, including higher interest rates and, often, mortgage insurance.

TD Bank, the U.S. unit of Toronto-Dominion Bank , is allowing first-time buyers to put as little as 3% down through its “Right Step” loan program. The bank—which also is extending the offer to low- and moderate-income borrowers as well as those purchasing a home in some up-and-coming neighborhoods—lowered its cash-down requirement from 5% last year.

The banks allow borrowers’ down payments to be partially or fully funded by family, nonprofits or other sources.

Lenders also have been lowering the bar for large mortgages, known as ”jumbos,” which they typically hold on their books. Such loans exceed $417,000 in most parts of the country and $625,500 in pricier housing markets such as New York and San Francisco.

In November, PNC Financial Services Group began allowing exceptions to its down-payment requirements for jumbo mortgages, says Tyler Case, a loan officer at PNC’s Fords, N.J., branch. The lender, which has been requiring at least 20% down for jumbos up to $1.5 million, lowered that to 15% for borrowers whose income and assets go beyond what the bank generally requires. To qualify, borrowers will need a higher credit score and less debt relative to their income than is usually required, as well as having savings after the home purchase equal to at least 12 months of mortgage payments.

PNC also is offering exceptions on down-payment amounts for larger loans up to $3 million.

Wells Fargo , meanwhile, began permitting down payments of as little as 10.1% last year on jumbo mortgages. Previously, its lowest down payment on jumbos was 15%.

 

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Well what else is there to do in Norway?

strikking er gøy ! Norway's No.1 knitting show host shows his chops

strikking er gøy !
Norway’s No.1 knitting show host shows his chops

Police: stop calling us to complain about the snow.

“People are calling and complaining that it’s snowing and that they’re late for work, they haven’t received their newspaper, and so on and so forth. These reports will not be prioritized,” Agder police wrote on Twitter.

Police spokesman Per Kristian Klausen drove home the point:

“People just have to accept that they live in Norway and it will snow,” he told newspaper Dagbladet.

 

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Still slim pickings on the open house docket

Chris waits for the market to awaken

Chris waits for the market to awaken

The week after the Martin Luther King holiday usually sees activity pick up, so look for more real estate reporting beginning next week or, worst case, the week after the Stupid Bowl.

Unless, of course, I can get a piece of the PR action from Maggie Gordon, in which case ….

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Has Greenwich Time’s Maggie Gordon branched out to become Tamar Lurie’s press agent?

Walk-in fireplace. When Mel owned the place, his six-foot claymore from "Brave Heart" hung above the mantle, which was pretty cool.

Walk-in fireplace – literally. When Mel owned the place, his six-foot claymore from “Brave Heart” hung above the mantel, which was pretty cool.

For the second time this week, Greenwich Time’s real estate reporter [sic] Maggie Gordon has profiled an over-priced, old listing of Tamara Lurie’s and presented it as new. Today it’s Tamar’s listing at 124 Old Mill Road that gets the full Maggie treatment. Yawn.

Mel Gibson bought the place in 1994 and rarely used it. In 2007 he tried to unload it for $39.5 million and finally sold it to the present owners, 1049 days later in 2010 for $24 million. Now they’ve had it on the market for 974 days, with no takers.

I don’t know whether Gordon has taken over public relations for the very-successful Lurie or if Greenwich Time, which ekes out an existence these days on real estate advertising, has embarked on an outreach campaign to support the large firms in town who still buy that advertising, but the emphasis on old, stale listings detracts from whatever news value these properties might otherwise hold.

The article, by the way, quotes the would-be-seller explaining that she and her husband had bought the place with the idea of converting it into a retirement home; that’s probably still a good idea because, including the sheep pens and gardener’s quarters, you could probably stuff 50 or 60 pensioners in here, easy.

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The other writer in the family, Sarah, writes about her grandmother

I’m usually wise enough to stay away from my kids’ Facebook pages, but a mutual friend tipped me off that Sarah had written a beautiful eulogy to Lea. Here it is.

 

Sarah in Harpswell

Sarah in Harpswell

Sarah Fountain

17 hrs · Edited · 

My Grandmother, affectionately known as Mun-Mun, passed away yesterday morning—peacefully and in her own home, as she wished.

When I was a little girl, I knew Mun-Mun was “the best” for so many reasons; she’d let us grandkids wreak havoc like tornados through the Hyatt hotel, as she calmly swam laps in the pool.

She would encourage my sister and me to upturn every rock and climb on every tree in the neighborhood in the name of exploration. When Katharine and I had our hands completely covered in dirt (much to Mun-Mun’s approval and amusement) she’d take us to get our nails done, and of course, afterwards, treat us to Pretzel Time.

It was always a high time for tea with Mun-Mun. Back then, however, I didn’t “like” tea…so she’d catch me eating straight sugar cubes, but just laughed, and never once ratted me out. Pure love, I tell you.

She introduced me to ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,’ and had no objection to letting my imagination run wild, as I took apart every closet in her house looking for Narnia.

As I got older, I learned more about this amazing woman beyond sugar cubes and CS Lewis.

Mun-Mun was classy and rebellious at the same time. Her heart was on her sleeve always, and her love could fill an entire room. Her political activism during WWII and Vietnam centered on helping others, and giving herself entirely to each cause.

I learned about her exhaustive research, admirable stubbornness, and dedication to restoring John Gilbert’s (my great-Grandfather’s, and her father’s) reputation in Hollywood.

Last year I met a woman who asked me, “Are you related to Leatrice Fountain?” I told her yes, that I was her granddaughter. She [the woman] got a huge smile on her face, and told me warmly about her encounter with Mun-Mun, 30 years prior.

“I was in high school, and my boyfriend had just died in a car accident,” the woman explained. “I was crying in a church. Your grandmother saw me there, placed her arms around my shoulders, and asked me what happened. I was just barely able to tell her through sobs. She brought me to her house, and filled me up with food and tea.”

We both became teary at the recollection. It was so very Mun-Mun.

My sadness today is coupled with slight remorse. I regret the times I could have spent with her, but didn’t, because there would be “more time later.” I regret missing each opportunity to hear every tale of her adventures and heroism.

But, that said, she wouldn’t want me to feel disappointment. Mun-Mun would want me to spread the light she shed, as far and wide as possible. She would want me to stand up for what I believe in. And travel. And explore. She’d want me to carry on with my writing career. She’d want me to restore Sunday Night dinners. She understood the importance of family perhaps more than anyone else in the family.

Not that I’ve got the whole universe/soul/spirit thing figured out, but there’s no shadow of a doubt that she will bear witness to these things as they manifest. She will be watching and I’m sure, laughing, with that wickedly witty sense of humor.

I invite anyone with recollections of my grandmother to send them along to sarah4fountains@gmail.com. I would love nothing more than to collect the beautiful messages and memories of Leatrice Gilbert Fountain and redistribute them during her full celebration of life.

Love you, Mun-Mun. I hope (yet know) there are plenty of Wilber Buds up there.

September 6, 1924 – January 20, 2015

My Grandmother, affectionately known as Mun-Mun, passed away yesterday morning—peacefully and in her own home, as she wished.  </p>
<p>When I was a little girl, I knew Mun-Mun was “the best” for so many reasons; she’d let us grandkids wreak havoc like tornados through the Hyatt hotel, as she calmly swam laps in the pool. </p>
<p>She would encourage my sister and me to upturn every rock and climb on every tree in the neighborhood in the name of exploration.  When Katharine and I had our hands completely covered in dirt (much to Mun-Mun's approval and amusement) she’d take us to get our nails done, and of course, afterwards, treat us to Pretzel Time.</p>
<p>It was always a high time for tea with Mun-Mun.  Back then, however, I didn’t “like” tea…so she’d catch me eating straight sugar cubes, but just laughed, and never once ratted me out.  Pure love, I tell you.</p>
<p>She introduced me to ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,’ and had no objection to letting my imagination run wild, as I took apart every closet in her house looking for Narnia.  </p>
<p>As I got older, I learned more about this amazing woman beyond sugar cubes and CS Lewis.   </p>
<p>Mun-Mun was classy and rebellious at the same time.  Her heart was on her sleeve always, and her love could fill an entire room.  Her political activism during WWII and Vietnam centered on helping others, and giving herself entirely to each cause. </p>
<p>I learned about her exhaustive research, admirable stubbornness, and dedication to restoring John Gilbert’s (my great-Grandfather’s, and her father's) reputation in Hollywood. </p>
<p>Last year I met a woman who asked me, “Are you related to Leatrice Fountain?” I told her yes, that I was her granddaughter.  She [the woman] got a huge smile on her face, and told me warmly about her encounter with Mun-Mun, 30 years prior.  </p>
<p>“I was in high school, and my boyfriend had just died in a car accident,” the woman explained.  “I was crying in a church.  Your grandmother saw me there, placed her arms around my shoulders, and asked me what happened.  I was just barely able to tell her through sobs.  She brought me to her house, and filled me up with food and tea.”  </p>
<p>We both became teary at the recollection.  It was so very Mun-Mun. </p>
<p>My sadness today is coupled with slight remorse.  I regret the times I could have spent with her, but didn’t, because there would be “more time later.”  I regret missing each opportunity to hear every tale of her adventures and heroism. </p>
<p>But, that said, she wouldn’t want me to feel disappointment.  Mun-Mun would want me to spread the light she shed, as far and wide as possible.  She would want me to stand up for what I believe in.  And travel.  And explore.  She’d want me to carry on with my writing career.  She’d want me to restore Sunday Night dinners. She understood the importance of family perhaps more than anyone else in the family.   </p>
<p>Not that I’ve got the whole universe/soul/spirit thing figured out, but there’s no shadow of a doubt that she will bear witness to these things as they manifest.  She will be watching and I’m sure, laughing, with that wickedly witty sense of humor. </p>
<p>I invite anyone with recollections of my grandmother to send them along to sarah4fountains@gmail.com. I would love nothing more than to collect the beautiful messages and memories of Leatrice Gilbert Fountain and redistribute them during her full celebration of life.   </p>
<p>Love you, Mun-Mun. I hope (yet know) there are plenty of Wilber Buds up there.</p>
<p>September 6, 1924 - January 20, 2015

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We knew this all along

Francis Fudrucker, Chairman of the Greenwich Democrats and founder of this august firm, shows his true colors

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 3.55.34 AM

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