Why move when you can remodel?

From MarketWatch:

Home improvement gets a makeover

No longer content with new cabinet pulls or a fresh coat of paint, homeowners are beginning, again, to dabble in home remodeling projects.

Contractors say they’re getting more requests for upgraded kitchens and bathrooms, as well as home additions and major improvements that cut energy bills and reinforce structures against storms. It’s a significant shift from recent years, when homeowners were focused on only vital home repairs, “preserving the investment you had,” says Steve Melman, the director of economic services for the National Association of Home Builders. The NAHB’s forecast expects a 2.4% increase in remodeling spending this year among single-family-home owners. Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies has a rosier outlook. Residential spending on additions, remodels and other major home improvements for October 2012 through September 2013 is expected to tally $145.5 billion, up 19.6% year over year, according to a January report.

Even as remodeling rebounds, however, consumers are looking for ways to save. Prerecession-style, “blowout” renovations like creating a master bedroom suite or multiroom home addition pushed the average remodel tab to between $250,000 and $350,000, says Justin Mihalik, the second vice president of the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Today, the average for bigger projects runs about $100,000 to $150,000, he says — and many people are spending far less. Four trends that are reshaping remodeling:

Cash Beats Credit

Homeowners are largely capping the budget at whatever they’ve saved up.

Livability, Not Resale Value

Unlike in boom times (or during the “house-flipping” craze), there’s less focus now on the added value a remodel might bring at sale.

Practical Upgrades

Premium prices for energy- or water-saving appliances and fixtures have come down over the years, making those upgrades more attractive for long-term-minded homeowners.

Casting a Wide Net

During the fourth quarter of 2012, remodelers reported a 3.9% increase in inquiries over the previous quarter, according to the NARI. But the number of bids that turned into actual jobs was slightly behind, up 3.5%. “It’s taking much longer to close a sale,” says Shaw. Where boomers might talk to two or three contractors at most, younger couples are meetings with at least twice as many.

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88 Responses to Why move when you can remodel?

  1. Essex says:

    Move now or be priced out forever.

  2. Mike says:

    Good Morning New Jersey

  3. grim says:

    Here are the 2013 Cost/Value charts for our area:

    http://www.remodeling.hw.net/2013/costvsvalue/division/middle-atlantic.aspx

    Locally, top projects are:

    New Front Door (Steel) – 83% payback
    New Siding (Fiber Cement) – 79.3% payback
    New Garage Door – 71.4% payback
    New Garage Door (upscale) – 70.3% payback
    New Siding (Vinyl) – 70.2% payback

    Nationally:

    In 2013, the five remodeling projects with the highest return were 1) Entry Door Replacement; 2) Fiber Cement Siding; 3) Wood Deck Addition; 4) Garage Door Replacement; and 5) Minor Kitchen Remodel.

  4. Fast Eddie says:

    Why move when you can remodel?

    Each day grows closer to that possibility.

  5. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    Aside from Gary’s long job search and then sudden move to a new job, anybody getting a whiff of wage inflation? I have a few anecdotal stories of people moving jobs for substantial salary increases. I talked to our HR department and they’re seeing a substantial rise in salaries landed, too.

  6. Brian says:

    Did the siding on my POS cape in 2011. Ripped off all the Asbestos siding and put up Vinyl. Some of the contractors we recieved quotes from wanted to just side over the Asbestos but I’m glad we didn’t do that. The guy we hired completely removed it. They found some rotten spots in the exterior wall where gutters had failed and were able to cut them out and put new insulation and plywood there. Also replaced the front door and all the gutters.

    Grim what’s the advantage of the Fiber cement siding? Don’t you still have to paint that stuff? Low maintenance was a huge selling point for me with the vinyl.

  7. Fast Eddie says:

    Went to 5 open houses yesterday before the game. It ranged in 450K worth of slop to 600K worth of slop. Oh, one was really nice but it was the size of the inside of your car and had a 30 foot retaining wall against route 17 for your backyard. The realtor told us, “Well this is Ho Ho Kus, you know.” She was giving us “advice” on how to expand the house. You know, on top of the price tag just to buy the place. I think we’re getting closer to making our decision on moving.

  8. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    [6] The street I grew up on in Morris County had all 1965 built houses, asbestos shingles on 3 sides, cedar shake on the front. They’re all sided now, I think. I wonder who took off the asbestos and who didn’t. I’m pretty sure they were asbestos. Are they the real brittle ones that break when you hit them with a baseball?

  9. A Home Buyer says:

    5 – Expat

    Approx. 6% salary increase after 2-3 years of no increases. I’ve finally caught up with inflation losses as compared to when I first started this job, so it’s not truly “growth”, but it is much appreciated.

  10. Juice Box says:

    Check box 12 on your W-2 there is your wage inflation
    And another thing to tax.

  11. Juice Box says:

    Lots of new titles being given out, no
    Big raises.

  12. Brian says:

    Yep that’s them. Tons of houses in the NJ area have them installed. I see it all over. My understanding is that they are basically cement, but they mixed in asbestos when they are made. I had to replace a few cracked ones a few years ago and I found a company that made some that looked exactly like them but they are made with fiberglass instead of asbestos.

    It’s something to think about though if you are buying a house built pre-1970′s….if you see vinyl siding on it you might want to peek underneath and see what’s there. I don’t think it’s a huge deal if you side over the old stuff but personally, I’d rather it be removed.

    8.The Original NJ ExPat says:
    February 4, 2013 at 8:14 am
    [6] The street I grew up on in Morris County had all 1965 built houses, asbestos shingles on 3 sides, cedar shake on the front. They’re all sided now, I think. I wonder who took off the asbestos and who didn’t. I’m pretty sure they were asbestos. Are they the real brittle ones that break when you hit them with a baseball?

  13. grim says:

    I’m no asbestos expert, but I didn’t think shingles were considered friable. I’m sure if they are encased before re-siding, it’s not going to cause much of a problem. I’m sure there is some marginal insulation and fireproofing value.

  14. grim says:

    Grim what’s the advantage of the Fiber cement siding? Don’t you still have to paint that stuff? Low maintenance was a huge selling point for me with the vinyl.

    The James Hardie pre-painted stuff comes with a warranty of 15 years, after which it will need to be painted at regular intervals like a wood product (~7 years).

    I don’t look at Fiber Cement as a competitor for vinyl, it’s a competitor for Cedar. Basically gives you a cedar look with no headaches until long after you are dead. Folks that go for cedar understand the regular paint requirements and accept that.

    From a visual perspective, it blows away all but the best vinyls (most local installers don’t use the really high priced stuff because most people would balk at the price). Although up close, the shake-look vinyl still looks undeniably fake.

    The big benefit of a paintable product is that you can, first, choose any paint color you like, secondly, you can change the color of your house in the future, if you care to, at minimal cost.

  15. Brian says:

    I think you’re right. I did some reading on them before I had the contractor do the work. Non-friable.

    http://www.state.nj.us/health/iep/asbestos_faq.shtml

    My point about replacement is that, I’m glad it was removed as we discovered some trouble spots and remedied the rotten exterior. We would not have known about it if we just sided over. Also, even though you and I know it probably isn’t a big deal, in today’s housing market any excuse could scare off a potential buyer one day and I just felt it added value to have the stuff removed completely.

    Also, if it were my roof being replaced/repaired, I’d want all the shingles removed, as roofers frequently find rotten plywood that has to be replaced. You’re more of an expert than me but I would think it would be better to remove and replace over just putting on another layer of shingles on top of the old, no? I applied the same logic to the siding job.

    13.grim says:
    February 4, 2013 at 8:30 am
    I’m no asbestos expert, but I didn’t think shingles were considered friable. I’m sure if they are encased before re-siding, it’s not going to cause much of a problem. I’m sure there is some marginal insulation and fireproofing value.

  16. Brian says:

    Maybe fireproofing yeah but regarding the insulation….my house is far less drafty than it was before the job. I was worried about losing some insualtion value but my personal experience has been positive with the vinyl.

    I’m sure there is some marginal insulation and fireproofing value.

  17. JJ says:

    Did they charge you to abate the absestos stuff? I mean any extra to cart it away.

    Cheap vinyl siding has a few advantages, first it is cheap, second they usually leave you some extra strips and with a five buck tool you can remove and replace yourself. Finally, gives you and easy entrance to house for stuff like behind the kitchen cabinet leaks. When I had all that water I had the choice yank cabinets out and granite, but I lifted siding behind and got to it that way.

    Downside is you look like every other cheap house and it is flimsy. Also you can only use stock basic colors if you ever want to match.

    My neighbor painted his brown vinyl siding back in 2006 and I thought it would never last, seven years and two huricannes later it still looks pretty good to my suprise.

    Brian says:
    February 4, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Did the siding on my POS cape in 2011. Ripped off all the Asbestos siding and put up Vinyl. Some of the contractors we recieved quotes from wanted to just side over the Asbestos but I’m glad we didn’t do that. The guy we hired completely removed it. They found some rotten spots in the exterior wall where gutters had failed and were able to cut them out and put new insulation and plywood there. Also replaced the front door and all the gutters.

    Grim what’s the advantage of the Fiber cement siding? Don’t you still have to paint that stuff? Low maintenance was a huge selling point for me with the vinyl.

  18. grim says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m with you, if you are going to do the siding it’s worthwhile to take it down to the sheathing and start from there. Heck, redo the windows with new construction at that point is almost a no-brainer if you hadn’t already put in replacements. Tyvek, new window and door flashing, new trim, etc, all worthwhile to do. At that point, the soffits are coming off, the fascia is off, the gutters are off, and the bill is a whopper!

  19. grim says:

    17 – Benjamin Moore now makes a vinyl-safe paint. I’m not sure how many times you can repaint before the natural expansion/contraction of the vinyl makes it impossible for the paint to flex (and starts to peel).

  20. Painhrtz - So Long and Thanks for all the Fish says:

    Grim I love the hardie siding and when we get around to blowing out out attic we will probably do the whole house in the stuff

  21. Brian says:

    It was an extra $1000. He was the only guy that wanted to do it. Everbody else wanted to side over. He said he had a place in PA that would take it.

    It probably looks cheaper than wood or hardi plank but it looks 100% better than the old asbestos siding that was cracked in many places with half a dozen layers of paint on it that was peeling in many places.

    17.JJ says:
    February 4, 2013 at 8:55 am
    Did they charge you to abate the absestos stuff? I mean any extra to cart it away.

  22. Anon E. Moose says:

    ExPat [5];

    I believe I’ve made the most I ever will in 2007. I took a haircut in 2011 as part of my employer at the time losing business and shedding headcount. At my current gig, Five colleagues jumped ship in the last 18 months, making it clear to me that the only way to get a raise out of this employer is to leave. I think anecdotally there will be opportunities for certain individuals to move up and/or laterally, but in a word, its all going to hell. I’ll consider myself lucky to pay off my house and wind down my career with my industry and our economy. I weep for my children.

  23. Brian says:

    Asbestos – removed and abated
    Tyvek – did that
    window/door flashing – did that
    trim – yep
    soffits – yep
    fascia – yep
    gutters – seamless and brandy new…
    Shutters – replaced

    I still have the bill it was $9800 for my 1300 sqft POS cape (including breezeway and attached garage).

    “Tyvek, new window and door flashing, new trim, etc, all worthwhile to do. At that point, the soffits are coming off, the fascia is off, the gutters are off, and the bill is a whopper!”

  24. JJ says:

    I’m a contractor and I’ve heard that in NJ, if I want to remove asbestos floor tile or sheet vinyl flooring I don’t need a NJ Asbestos Contractor’s license. Is that true?

    Contractors must normally acquire a NJ Department of Labor and Workplace Development license to conduct this type of work, but there are provisions for an exemption from these regulations. To learn more about the exemption process, you can link to the Compliance Assistance Project page or refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page for information on how to contact the DOH.

    I read this online. Anyhow the oddity is how do you know it is asbestos to begin with?

    For instance I had the entire den covered in brown heavy duty tiles glued to ground from somewhere in the 50/60s. Prior owner carpeted over it. When I bought house I ripped up carpet and my brother in law said that looks like absestos. I said I guess, anyhow I recarpeted. I removed some but kept 99%. After flood I ripped up carpet a few of tiles were somewhat loose. So the demo guy literally took a shovel with a sharp end and started scrapping it up threw it in a heavy garage bag and out to curb where it disappeared. I briefly asked guy what do you think tiles are made of, he goes I dont know, who cares.

    The contractors often get mexicans from home dept to do rip outs. Unskilled labor who speak very little english. It all goes out, as a homeowner I have two choices call a service and open a huge can of worms or deny deny deny. What you dont know cant hurt you.

    I personally think asbestos/mold removal companies are all scams. They prey on folks paranoia and insurance companies. Servpros whole business model is based on it.

    I also think getting multiple quotes from licensed contractors open a whole can of worms. I had one single licensed guy in my house during storm. Guy was like who is doing your plumbing, who is doing your electric, what are their name are they licensed in long island. I was like first I dont know, second why do you care, then he was harrasing me I said it was a licensed electrician from queens, then he was like those people dont belong out there he is unqualified. Finally, I was very very nice to him, told him he did emergency work only, was my aunts friend. My aunt got him to come over and help and she paid, he was only here one day. Finally, he backed down. I find the licensed guys open a can of worms if you let too many into your home.

    When I had driveway done I got a few quotes and one guy got his windows broken as he was quoting in the wrong town. I know when I called him to get a copy of my estimate he yelled at me how he got a broken windshield with a note stay out of my town.

    Other issue is the roofer guy I used last time, really good. Has a policy, no quotes no insurance, cash only. You call him he shows up does job. He comes to work. No quotes. I called him last time and rolled the dice. He charged 50% less than lowest quote. Funny he is actually licensed. Other weird part he picks day not you. When I spoke to him he said he works seven days a week, cash only, no office, parks trucks in driveway and pays employees no benefits. Other guys you are paying for his rent, employee benefits, admin in office, phones, advertising etc.

    He is kinda like cheap charlies tree service I used. Quoted me $100 bucks to take down a five story tall tree. Cheap Charlie said I come when I come anytime in next six months, I dont call ahead, if you are not home or having a party I do it anyhow, I drop a return envelope in mailbox, you put stamp on it, make check out to cash and mail it to me.

    Quoting is an interesting concept. Only the expensive ones quote. The ones looking for fat insurance checks. Plus your current guys feel you are dicking them over if you are quoting things out.

  25. grim says:

    We lost around 5 heads to higher paying jobs in the last few months alone, probably goes to 7 in the last year. I believe most all of them have transitioned to healthcare-related IT. In almost every case there was no way for us to even come close to matching their new salaries, in one case, a close colleague of mine, was able to negotiate an increase of almost 25% at his new position.

  26. JJ says:

    It was an extra $1000. He was the only guy that wanted to do it. Everbody else wanted to side over. He said he had a place in PA that would take it.

    And I believe in the Easterbunny, that stuff was dumped first place he found.

  27. JJ says:

    Brian I hope the bank sends you a nice fruit basket next xmas for taking such good care of their house

    Brian says:
    February 4, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Asbestos – removed and abated
    Tyvek – did that
    window/door flashing – did that
    trim – yep
    soffits – yep
    fascia – yep
    gutters – seamless and brandy new…
    Shutters – replaced

    I still have the bill it was $9800 for my 1300 sqft POS cape (including breezeway and attached garage).

  28. grim says:

    JJ – I know a roofer that basically works the same way, not because the guy isn’t qualified, or isn’t a craftsman, he is, he does beautiful work. He has no shop, he has no advertising, no t-shirts, no fancy logo or fancy truck. His price and quality can’t be beat, probably half the price of those heavy duty advertisers that sub out 100% of their roofing jobs. Those guys that advertise in every circular and magazine aren’t contractors, they are marketing companies, they sell the job and then sub it out, you are paying two sets of companies for the work. This guy? 100% word of mouth.

    He is booked all year long, he lived a block over from my parents and his truck was never home during the day. You make the arrangements and a truck will show up with materials, drop it in your driveway, a dumpster will appear, and poof, one morning you’ll wake up and your old roof will already be stripped, the next day, done. You want an appointment for Tuesday afternoon to start? Yeah right, go screw. It’ll be sometime in the next two weeks. One of the few contractors that I know that’ll show up with an all American crew too, how ’bout that.

  29. Brian says:

    JJ I was buying weekends free from mindless house repair chores. I tried it your way. I spent countless weekends fighting water that came in from busted gutters, trying to tack them back to the house, trying to figure out why they weren’t pitched right. Plus have you ever tried to scrape and paint asbestos siding? I was fukin tired of it.

    27.JJ says:
    February 4, 2013 at 9:20 am
    Brian I hope the bank sends you a nice fruit basket next xmas for taking such good care of their house

  30. Brian says:

    Define American…

    I had an Irish guy do the work of closing up our breezeway and making a room out of it. Nice guy, work took a long time though. Almost the whole summer. Expensive too. I mean it was only a 10′ by 11′ room.

    Hispanic crew that ripped off our siding and put in the new stuff were crazy fast. Erecting scaffolding and running up and down planks with wheelbarrows. I don’t remember exactly but I think it was only a day or two also.

    We did the dormer at the same time we did the siding. White crew doing the framing, hispanic crew doing the roofing/siding, white guy plumbing, black guys doing the insulation. Foreman did the tiling and much of the interior trim work and hung the doors.

    “One of the few contractors that I know that’ll show up with an all American crew too, how ’bout that.”

  31. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    One place you don’t want your will probated: New Jersey

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/where-not-to-die-in-2013-182307758.html

    Though Pennsy isn’t much better.

  32. Painhrtz - So Long and Thanks for all the Fish says:
  33. grim says:

    30 – The opposite of illegal home depot day laborers?

  34. grim says:

    I had an Irish guy do the work of closing up our breezeway and making a room out of it. Nice guy, work took a long time though. Almost the whole summer. Expensive too. I mean it was only a 10′ by 11′ room.

    Even DIY you should be able to bang that out in a week (full days). If you are doing it by the book and having to wait for inspections, it still shouldn’t take any more than 2 or 3 weeks (including bringing in an electrician for the electrical). Only reason I can see something like that stretching out into months is trying to match windows/doors with custom products (long lead times), or requiring engineering because of big structural changes.

  35. cobbler says:

    Brian – could you share your contractor’s info?

  36. Ragnar says:

    I’m now employed for life after signing a long term contract. No company changes for me for at least the next 10 years, probably the next 20-25, after which I should retire. I’ve discovered I only get to keep 48% of any more money that I expect to make this year, so now I’m becoming more interested in continuity and stability of income, and finding opportunities for non-taxable benefits. With high taxes, employers may well be turning more European.

  37. Ernest Money says:

    We are becoming urrp. However, I cannot understand this fascination with a completely failed continent.

  38. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    [19] grim – They probably borrowed paint technology from the auto body industry. Plastic bumper covers and rocker panels, etc. need flex coat mixed with the paint before spraying or it will crack and peel due to, as you said, natural expansion/contraction. When you see a car on the road with only the bumper paint peeling you know the body person didn’t mix flex coat in with the paint.

    17 – Benjamin Moore now makes a vinyl-safe paint. I’m not sure how many times you can repaint before the natural expansion/contraction of the vinyl makes it impossible for the paint to flex (and starts to peel).

  39. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    [22] Moose – That’s exactly what I’m hearing and seeing. I don’t know that anybody’s current employers will give big bumps, but it looks like in IT, anyway, there are a lot of people jumping ship for as much as 25% more salary. There’s even talk of signing bonuses.

    Five colleagues jumped ship in the last 18 months, making it clear to me that the only way to get a raise out of this employer is to leave.

  40. Painhrtz - So Long and Thanks for all the Fish says:

    Money becasue they are cultured and Sh!t, Duh! Plus they speak English with dreamy accents.

  41. JJ says:

    Use Asians to do the white work. I find asians are very good and can do plumbing, framing and electrical for half the price of whitey.

    All serious I think the issue I had with the local irish/italian guys is they all sub parts out to each other and get architects/engineers and local building inspectors involved.

    In other words, brother in laws, nephews, cousins everyone is getting a taste.

    Take my bathroom for instance. The local italian guy who gave me a quote on an investment property was sky high. Had a tile guy, had an electrician, had a plumber, had a painter, permits, insurance on and on. Funny, no mention of the Italian guy actually doing the work. I could imagine tons and tons of delays. Waiting for plumber, electrician, etc. Finally I get price off him and go kinda expensive at 12.5K a bathroom but sounds good as you are doing everything, then he lobs at me. All you have to do is buy toliet, vanity, shower etc. I am like what. Oh year I only include stuff like cement, grout, wiring etc. You have to buy all the material. Exactly why I was paying the Italian guy for I dont know. White guys no longer want to do work, they want to advertise, market, sell and invoice and collect. Not work.

    Brian says:
    February 4, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Define American…

    I had an Irish guy do the work of closing up our breezeway and making a room out of it. Nice guy, work took a long time though. Almost the whole summer. Expensive too. I mean it was only a 10′ by 11′ room.

    Hispanic crew that ripped off our siding and put in the new stuff were crazy fast. Erecting scaffolding and running up and down planks with wheelbarrows. I don’t remember exactly but I think it was only a day or two also.

    We did the dormer at the same time we did the siding. White crew doing the framing, hispanic crew doing the roofing/siding, white guy plumbing, black guys doing the insulation. Foreman did the tiling and much of the interior trim work and hung the doors.

    “One of the few contractors that I know that’ll show up with an all American crew too, how ’bout that.”

  42. Anon E. Moose says:

    Speaking of Urrp, Happy Centennial anniversary of institutionalized envy and class warfare in America (aka, 100th anniversary of passing the 16th Amendment legalizing the income tax).

    http://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/the-100th-anniversary-of-the-income-tax-and-the-lesson-we-should-learn-from-that-mistake/

  43. Willow says:

    #39

    My husband got a call from a recruiter last week who has an IT infrastructure position paying 33% more than he’s making now plus a bonus (lateral move). He hasn’t gotten a raise in years and he’s not anticipating getting one any time soon but, while the other job looks good, he just doesn’t want the uptown commute. He did the NYC commute for years and is much happier working in NJ. He is going to consider other positions in NJ though.

    “That’s exactly what I’m hearing and seeing. I don’t know that anybody’s current employers will give big bumps, but it looks like in IT, anyway, there are a lot of people jumping ship for as much as 25% more salary. There’s even talk of signing bonuses.”

  44. JJ says:

    Extra 33% raise for hubby, extra bonus and two extra free hours a day to pamper yourself. Sounds like win/win for the wife.

    Willow says:
    February 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

    #39

    My husband got a call from a recruiter last week who has an IT infrastructure position paying 33% more than he’s making now plus a bonus (lateral move). He hasn’t gotten a raise in years and he’s not anticipating getting one any time soon but, while the other job looks good, he just doesn’t want the uptown commute. He did the NYC commute for years and is much happier working in NJ. He is going to consider other positions in NJ though.

  45. Brian says:

    http://www.upandabovecontractors.com/

    35.cobbler says:
    February 4, 2013 at 10:06 am
    Brian – could you share your contractor’s info?

  46. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [32] pain,

    There was something bugging me about the photo. Maybe you can weigh in.

    If you look at the original photo, there is a jet of smoke coming out of the muzzle (normal) but also one coming out the side of the barrel, several inches down from the muzzle.

    I don’t know shotguns so I don’t know what would cause that. Is it normal?

  47. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    Interesting reading, telling me something I already know.

    http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/tax_migration.shtml

  48. cobbler says:

    Brian, thanks a lot!

  49. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    Pain, never mind. Did not know about ports on shotguns. Haven’t shot them more than once or twice in my life.

    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2013/02/foghorn/white-house-may-have-doctored-photo-of-obama-shooting-a-shotgun/

    BTW, don’t go by the link. This guy debunks the photoshop myths.

  50. Painhrtz - So Long and Thanks for all the Fish says:

    Nom looking at the model it is is a browning citori, The higher end skeet versions, which are upwards of 10K have ported barrels to help with muzzle jump. that is why you see smoke coming out of the barrel down below the business end. nice guns not worth the cost unless you shoot competition not even sure if they are worth it then.

  51. joyce says:

    I’m from the govt. and here to help

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-18/retirement-savings-accounts-draw-u-s-consumer-bureau-attention.html

    The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is weighing whether it should take on a role in helping Americans manage the $19.4 trillion they have put into retirement savings, a move that would be the agency’s first foray into consumer investments.

    “That’s one of the things we’ve been exploring and are interested in in terms of whether and what authority we have,” bureau director Richard Cordray said in an interview. He didn’t provide additional details.

  52. JJ says:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/best-employers-in-america-2013-2#1-celgene-corporation-50

    50 best employer list. Interesting not one has a salary that a married man could support a stay at home wife and a few kids in NJ. But hey they are happy at work.

  53. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [53] JJ

    Very familiar with Celgene. Not sure that it isn’t in for some growing pains though. Bob Hugin is extremely well-respected and has taken over from Uncle Sol quite admirably, but certain line divisions have had their share of problems with commensurate turnover.

  54. chicagofinance says:

    I wasn’t sure, but I am guessing there is a clear NJ RE Report connection….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j22SfSS9x7c

  55. Painhrtz - So Long and Thanks for all the Fish says:

    Nom lot of ex colleagues work there they love the place. I interviewed did not come away impressed, think the feeling was mutual.

  56. JJ says:

    I am suspicous of any pharma company on the list, cant they just drug up the workers to make them think they are happy

    Comrade Nom Deplume says:
    February 4, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    [53] JJ

    Very familiar with Celgene. Not sure that it isn’t in for some growing pains though. Bob Hugin is extremely well-respected and has taken over from Uncle Sol quite admirably, but certain line divisions have had their share of problems with commensurate turnover.

  57. Jill says:

    Brian: I did mine in 2006. I had a fully-licensed contractor do it. He took the stuff off himself (with no masks — idiot!) and I had to pay like $3000 to have the stuff carted away by a licensed asbestos handling outfit. Like you, almost everyone I talked to wanted to side over it, but what I found out is that when you do that, you have to disclose when you sell. It doesn’t matter that it’s not friable, people hear “asbestos” and freak out. It was worth it to pay the extra to get rid of it. The guy put on Tyvek AND foam board. Even with that, the house is draftier than it was with asbestos on 3 sides and shake on one, but it looks a lot better. I did a roof, siding, gutters, vents, 2nd floor windows. Spent like $35K on the whole thing.

  58. JJ says:

    Disclosure is an interesting thing. If someone asked me is there any asbestos in my house I would answer truthfully, how should I know. My home inspector I hired did not test for asbestos. Also I think in any older house people expect it. Also depends on location, bungalows near the ocean asbestos tiles outside house are a bit of selling point, the vinyl stuff flies off every storm.
    How does anyone have a clue what is in house? I am fourth owner of my house. I have no clue what prior owners did.

    Also lead paint is more of an issue, all over windows and doors in house where everytime you open and shut it bits break off.

    Jill says:
    February 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Brian: I did mine in 2006. I had a fully-licensed contractor do it. He took the stuff off himself (with no masks — idiot!) and I had to pay like $3000 to have the stuff carted away by a licensed asbestos handling outfit. Like you, almost everyone I talked to wanted to side over it, but what I found out is that when you do that, you have to disclose when you sell. It doesn’t matter that it’s not friable, people hear “asbestos” and freak out. It was worth it to pay the extra to get rid of it. The guy put on Tyvek AND foam board. Even with that, the house is draftier than it was with asbestos on 3 sides and shake on one, but it looks a lot better. I did a roof, siding, gutters, vents, 2nd floor windows. Spent like $35K on the whole thing.

  59. xolepa says:

    (59) Draftier with Tyvek. Hmmm. Did the contractor use 9 foot wide Tyvek rolls, essentially wrapping the entire house in horizontal layers, or did he use small sections? Now, wherever those sections met, did the contractor use the special Tyvek tape to seal the seams? My guess is that you did not have your windows replaced at that time, so they didn’t wrap into the window openings.

  60. Brian says:

    Siding manufacturers website claims the stuff I installed meets standards of Miami dade fl county hurricane standards. Dunno how true that would be in the real world. It probably also depends on the quality of the installation.

    “Also depends on location, bungalows near the ocean asbestos tiles outside house are a bit of selling point, the vinyl stuff flies off every storm.”

  61. JJ says:

    Wrapping your house up does not last long. My house when I gutted it, old alarm systems, old satellite TV connections, old analog connections, old dryer and vent connections, old phone connections, old doorbells, sprinklers, old through the wall airconditioners, cable vision connections etc.

    A house is just horizontal planks of wood, one side has foam and siding, other side installation and sheetrock. Overtime many many holes end up being made, many you cant see as behind sheetrock and siding.

    xolepa says:
    February 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    (59) Draftier with Tyvek. Hmmm. Did the contractor use 9 foot wide Tyvek rolls, essentially wrapping the entire house in horizontal layers, or did he use small sections? Now, wherever those sections met, did the contractor use the special Tyvek tape to seal the seams? My guess is that you did not have your windows replaced at that time, so they didn’t wrap into the window openings.

  62. Essex says:

    In the past few years, Americans have learned a thing or two about how quickly disaster can strike.

    And with each Hurricane Sandy, housing crisis, and stock market crash that rocks our world, we’re faced with the realization that many of us simply aren’t prepared for the worst.

    A sobering new report by the Corporation for Enterprise Development shows nearly half of U.S. households (132.1 million people) don’t have enough savings to weather emergencies, or finance long-term needs like college tuition, health care and housing.

    According to the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, these people wouldn’t last three months if their income was suddenly depleted. More than 30 percent don’t even have a savings account, and another 8 percent don’t bank at all.

    We’re not just talking about people who living people the poverty line, either. Plenty of the middle class have joined the ranks of the “working poor,” struggling right alongside families scraping by on food stamps and other forms of public assistance.

    More than one-quarter of households earning $55,465-$90,000 annually have less than three months of savings.

    And another quarter of households are considered net worth asset poor, “meaning that the few assets they have, such as a savings account or durable assets like a home, business or car, are overwhelmed by their debts,” the study says.
    Stuck on the wheel

    One of the prolonging reasons consumers have consistently struggled to make ends meet has more to do with larger economic issues than whether or not they can balance a checkbook.

    Per the report, household median net worth declined by over $27,000 from its peak in 2006 to $68,948 in 2010, and at the same time, the cost of basic necessities like housing, food, and education have soared.

    It’s a dichotomy that is hammered home in a new book by finance expert Helaine Olen. In “Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry,” Olen knocks down much of the commonly-spread advice that is sold by the personal finance industry –– most notably the idea that if you’re not making ends meet in America, you’re doing something wrong.

    “The problem [is] fixed cost, the things that are difficult to “cut back” on. Housing, health care, and education cost the average family 75 percent of their discretionary income in the 2000s. The comparable figure in 1973: 50 percent,” Olen writes.

    “And even as the cost of buying a house plunged in many areas of the country in the latter half of the 2000s (causing, needless to say, its own set of problems) the price of other necessary expenditures kept rising.”

    And, as the new report shows, wherever consumers can’t cope with costs, they continue to rely on plastic. The average borrower carries more than $10,700 in credit card debt, one in five households still rely on high-risk financial services that target low-income and under-banked consumers.

    And given the fact the same report by CFED last year found nearly identical trends among consumers, we’re no closer to finding a solution than ever.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/americans-live-on-the-edge-of-financial-ruin-cfed-report-2013-2#ixzz2Jxf0LgcZ

  63. Essex says:

    The American system of higher education is increasingly becoming a fiscal disaster for ever-larger numbers of students who move through it. That disaster is being caused by a combination of terrible incentives, institutional greed — and the pervasive myth that more education is the cure for economic inequality.

    The extent of this myth is highlighted by a new report from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, which indicates that nearly half of all employed college graduates have jobs that require less than a four-year college education. Despite such sobering statistics, the higher-education complex remains remarkably successful at ensuring that American taxpayers fund the acquisition of educational credentials that, in many cases, leave the people who obtain them worse off than they were before they enrolled.

    Far from being “priceless,” as the promoters of ever-more spending on higher education would have Americans believe, both undergraduate and post-graduate education is turning out to be a catastrophic investment for many young and not-so-young adults.

    In recent years, law school has become the most striking example of this remarkably perverse system. Consider how American legal education is funded:

    Law schools calculate a total annual cost of attendance, based on their tuition and the cost of living in the area where the school is located. For example, American University’s law school estimates this year’s cost of attendance as $70,204.

    Any student a law school chooses to admit can, assuming he or she is not currently in default on an educational loan, borrow 100 percent of the cost of attendance for that particular school from the federal government, in the form of educational loans that currently carry interest rates of 6.8 percent and 7.9 percent.

    The federal government puts no limits on how much money a school can make its students eligible to borrow, nor does it make any effort to determine whether the federal loans students are taking out have any reasonable prospect of being paid back.

    Interest begins to accrue on these loans as soon as they are disbursed. This means that a student who enrolled, for example, in American University last fall will have — assuming a 3.5 percent annual increase in the cost of attendance — approximately $260,000 in debt when the student’s first loan payment comes due, six months after graduation. The student will owe monthly payments of more than $3,000 on the standard 10-year repayment plan, and nearly $2,000 on an extended 25-year repayment schedule.

    In effect, the system allows any 22-year-old American University chooses to admit to borrow a sum equal to the average home mortgage, but without a single one of the actuarial controls that are supposed to minimize the risk that homeowners will borrow too much money.

    After all, even at the height of the housing bubble, homebuyers who got so-called liar loans that misstated their actual income still had to jump through certain hoops to do so. In addition, if they defaulted on their loans, there was a house the lender could foreclose on that in most cases still had some value. Of course, that system proved to be far too unregulated, and led to a financial disaster that would have wrecked the nation’s banking system if not for hundreds of billions of dollars of federal bailout money.

  64. Juice Box says:

    It’s Feb 4th the day after the Superbowl so where are all of the new listings?
    I am getting tired of looking at POS that have been languishing forever on the MLS.

  65. JJ says:

    You see that very apparent in the rockaways, the insurance companies would rather have you pay out of pocket fix your home and submit bills rather than front you the money.

    The rockaway folks want to get paid first then fix as they have no cash. When you are living in a trailor, sleeping in a tent or trapped in a damaged house with no heat it means you have a serious cash flow issue. Normal folks with no cash can get an SBA loan, but SBA does not lend to broke people.

    The idiot couple in their late 20s who bought the POS next to me for 48oK 11 months ago and immediately bought new appliances, shurbs, painted etc and leased two news cars have a completely gutted house. Their mortgage payments and cards did not go away, (they moved their cars), meanwhile rest of block with insurance just shelled out the cash and submitted the claim. But you need the cash. I “fronted” 50K on my house in a few weeks. Some folks dont even have 50K to access, I mean heloc, margin, break a CD, borrow Mom or Dad. It is amazing. Yet they live in a house valued at 500K with two new cars in driveway

    Essex says:
    February 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    In the past few years, Americans have learned a thing or two about how quickly disaster can strike.

    And with each Hurricane Sandy, housing crisis, and stock market crash that rocks our world, we’re faced with the realization that many of us simply aren’t prepared for the worst.

  66. JJ says:

    Long Beach, Island Park, Rockaways have plenty of new listings and they are ALL oceanfront.

    Juice Box says:
    February 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    It’s Feb 4th the day after the Superbowl so where are all of the new listings?
    I am getting tired of looking at POS that have been languishing forever on the MLS.

  67. BearsFan says:

    65- essex, now if they could only parlay that into understanding this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XcGh1Dex4Yo
    maybe we’ll start to get some socially beneficial change.

  68. Fast Eddie says:

    Juice Box [68],

    It’s Feb 4th the day after the Superbowl so where are all of the new listings?
    I am getting tired of looking at POS that have been languishing forever on the MLS.

    I sense the experiment of moving to a slightly bigger house on a slightly bigger property in a slightly quieter town coming to a close. Six months of overpriced houses and ever-reaching expectations are exacting a toll on well intended plans. Nothing in the industry has changed nor has any advantage been met for buyers. It’s still a con game designed to fleece with every slight of hand attempted. There are no houses because the majority can’t sell. They were subject to a decade of theft by deception and have been shackled as a result. And the few remaining house tour guides are as arrogant as ever with delusional sellers as their clients.

  69. Painhrtz - So Long and Thanks for all the Fish says:

    Essex strangely enough wife and I were discussing yesterday, granted kids turn one in 3 weeks never to early to start planning yada yada yada. Me with a BS and a Masters degree in desired area actually uttered these words, jeez with the cost of education I would rather hand them the check and tell them to start a business. Surprisingly, she of two degrees in desired fields agreed.

    the cost to benefit ratio is so out of wack. granted that bubble to will pop but it is what it is. Honestly, if they really wanted to go I would have them do the same thing I did community college first two years finish out somewhere else. Unless they got scholarships for full rides but I recognize that is a slim possibility.

  70. Juice Box says:

    re: #70 – JJ I love the ocean as long as the house if at least 4 blocks inland and I don’t own it. Why buy the cow when you can rent it? Matter of fact I just heard from my realtor in Spring Lake NJ last night, guess she does not like football. She emailed to tell me the home I rented last summer for July and August thr labor day is intact no damage and the owner wants to know if I want to rent it again from Memorial Day to Labor day this summer. I told her to get me the rate ASAP. If I can get the whole 3.5 months of summer for last years 2 months price it is just win win for me.

    I have a feeling the current tenant who was displaced by Sandy won’t be too happy they are getting tossed out for a Benny with $$ like me for a summer rental.

  71. Juice Box says:

    re # 72 – Eddie – I went out of my way to get the hottest realtor where I am looking and still nothing. I am going to have to get down and dirty and start knocking on doors soon. My time frame is from here to Sept and I will not be deterred to get a deal and close it.

    My main motivation? Two kids now in private school/day care =$4500 a month not including lunch.

  72. Fast Eddie says:

    Juice [75],

    I thought about writing a letter and slipping it into doors handles in certain neighborhoods. Whatever method used, it doesn’t remove the fact that no inventory is the result of too many underwater. One decent house gets listed at a good price and you have six parties putting in bids. It gives the false impression that happy days are here again and the @sshole seller down the block thinks their slop house is worth the same and “won’t give it away.” The whole industry justs reeks like never before.

    And you know what? With the cost of everything detached and rising unabated, house prices in this area, despite inventory and rates, is going down another 10 percent. Easy! There is absolutely no doubt about it. There’s so many houses on the cusp of being bank-owned, they’ll never open the gates too wide and allow the whole sh1t pile to find the true market value. A lot of people are really f.ucked.

  73. JJ says:

    Why so far from ocean if you dont rent it. BTW distance from Ocean does not help. It is how far above sea level. Wedged between Long Beach NY and Far Rockaways their is a tiny town called Atlantic Beach on the Nassau Queens Border. The Silver point part west of atlantic beach is only five blocks by three blocks and 180 degrees surrounded by water. In Sandy not one single house got one drop of water including houses that have basements. Even the ones beach front. The reason being town is ten feet higher than sea level that the rockaways or long beach

    My daughters friend who lives on water near me did not get much water two feet. He said it was like he was sitting on top of a cereal bowl. Meaning his house since on water was raised up in air on dirt then it was a high ranch to boot. the houses across street and up to thee blocks away were lower and it filled up like a cereral bowl with the houses three blocks from the water getting six feet and him getting two feet.

    I discovered this while bungalow housing, I found some beach homes that did not require flood insurance or got pref rate. All based on elevation and claims history.

    Juice Box says:
    February 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    re: #70 – JJ I love the ocean as long as the house if at least 4 blocks inland and I don’t own it. Why buy the cow when you can rent it? Matter of fact I just heard from my realtor in Spring Lake NJ last night, guess she does not like football. She emailed to tell me the home I rented last summer for July and August thr labor day is intact no damage and the owner wants to know if I want to rent it again from Memorial Day to Labor day this summer. I told her to get me the rate ASAP. If I can get the whole 3.5 months of summer for last years 2 months price it is just win win for me.

    I have a feeling the current tenant who was displaced by Sandy won’t be too happy they are getting tossed out for a Benny with $$ like me for a summer rental.

  74. Juice Box says:

    JJ – The ocean beats the crap out of a house and anything inside it, and that is without the flooding. Cars have a shorter life too. A few blocks inland makes all the difference. Close enough to smell it but not living like you are Sponge Bob either. Sure you might have a nicer sun rise but a few blocks in you can have pretty much any kind of shrub or tree you want, a full basement furnished and your grass won’t need as much water and your car won’t have coat of salt on it every morning. Plus these days most towns the beach block is the main drag. Who needs all of that noise too? I will take a nice quite tree lined street a few blocks from the ocean in Spring Lake any-day over the main ocean drive in most beach towns.

  75. Anon E. Moose says:

    Pain [72];

    I thinking trade school. Mechanic, plumber, etc. Maybe college IF the cost/benefit is reasonable with scholarships and such (lets face it, need-based aid isn’t available to the 53%) and IF they get into a household brand name school for a hard science degree; but I’ll be damned if I’m shelling out $50k x 4 (or more!) for a BA in [FillInTheBlank] Studies from some ‘tiny’, ‘selective’ no-name, me-too liberal arts college only to have me kids be pitched a bill of socialist goods from ivory-tower academics who never had to produce a damn thing besides a final exam paper in their lives.

  76. JJ says:

    That is a NJ thing. In LI they block the beach. Atlantic Beach is a pistol. April 15 to October 15 there is no parking on the streets, residents or non residents. The parts of beach that do not have houses on them they have piled up gigantic sand dunes “to protect from flooding. In between dunes, they have a manned fence, behind a small shack so you cant peak at beach and residents only are allowed on beach. If you rent your house no pass for owner. No parking lot at beach either. End result is you want to live right by beach, as three blocks away means you have to carry your stuff there. Also in the beach area no commercial business. Other thing is one way streets in summer, my favorite is to get to beach it sends you in a series of zig zags if you are driving. Jersey if very honky tonk at beach. That is why I hate it. I hate long beach too. I like stuff like flying point beach in Hamptons, etc. Private beaches, residents only no parking.

    I think a basement is overated. I would never want one again. My “basement” is only two feet below ground level, what a headache. The crawl space is another two feet lower. Musty smell, dank etc. The bungalow I almost bought was five houses from ocean. It was great as no basement, raised up five feet, had a great front porch, gas heat and furnace in attic as well as main electric panel. in attic. Long concrete driveway, entire backyard was concrete, just had a small front yard of pebbles and desert bushes. Only grass was three feet to left of house away from beach which was a fenced in dog run thing. Had an outdoor shower. Main level was all tiled so no wood. And it had that absestos tough as nails siding.

    You cant have a regular house five houses from beach. This house I would have bought except I stopped at 379k and owner stopped at 409K. Realtor was the friends owner and did not want to eat her commission. At one point I said to her we are only 30K apart why dont we all eat 10K and do a deal. She said she has a new car on order and cant do it. House is still for sale. Flood insurance was 300 a year on house. Why it was grandfathered. Flood insurance allows grandfathering. If you buy flood insurance before it is mandatory it is a life time rate. Lifetime of house, so I get it too. Only catch is three strikes your are out for good. This house never had a claim.

    My current house just got strike one. If I get to strike three I am walking away.

    Juice Box says:
    February 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    JJ – The ocean beats the crap out of a house and anything inside it, and that is without the flooding. Cars have a shorter life too. A few blocks inland makes all the difference. Close enough to smell it but not living like you are Sponge Bob either. Sure you might have a nicer sun rise but a few blocks in you can have pretty much any kind of shrub or tree you want, a full basement furnished and your grass won’t need as much water and your car won’t have coat of salt on it every morning. Plus these days most towns the beach block is the main drag. Who needs all of that noise too? I will take a nice quite tree lined street a few blocks from the ocean in Spring Lake any-day over the main ocean drive in most beach towns.

  77. grim says:

    Hearing that January contracts were extremely strong…

  78. Essex says:

    72. I’m a firm believer in education, but state schools work OK. I dunno. Seems like the elites schools are a waste of money. And a place where your kid can rub elbows with wealthy ingrates.

  79. Essex says:

    68. I like “living on the edge” and know a lot of folks who essentially push the envelope on just about every purchase. It’s a necessary evil if you want to make ends meet sometimes. Especially for couples with young kids. I look at it like some of those are startup costs. Can’t avoid em. Yet, if you lose a job. Kiss it all goodbye.

  80. cobbler says:

    sx[81]
    When you are paying for the “elite” school, you are paying for two things – name and alumni network. Both are actually much important for those in the @#$%^& studies field, than for engineering and hard science grads. Someone working his a$$ off to get a 3.4 GPA as a biology major at Johns Hopkins (and paying 200K for the privilege) will be much disadvantaged in med school admissions v. his twin brother w/same MCAT who easily got a 3.75 at Ramapo for 1/4 of the price.

  81. Brian says:

    Juice try bayside sometime. Sunsets and fishing are cool too.

  82. chicagofinance says:

    stu: sorry man….

    WSJ
    MARKETS
    Fun Fades at Investing Clubs
    Wary of Market Uncertainty, Interest Wanes in Get-Togethers; Stocks Are ‘Scary’.

    By E.S. BROWNING

    Members of Don Danko’s investment club in Lake Orion, Mich., are friends who exercise together, drink beer together, and, at club meetings, lament the stock market’s uncertainty together.

    Four of his friends yanked money out of the club. One member persuaded the group to buy a gold fund. The mood of remaining members, most of them united by their commitment to a nearby Catholic church, is strained.

    “It is quite frustrating to try to preach that long-term investing really pays off, when it just hasn’t over the past decade,” Mr. Danko says.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average is just 155 points away from a new high after closing Friday above 14000 for the first time since October 2007. But many investment clubs are suffering or even disappearing, casualties of a deep shift in investor psychology.

    BetterInvesting, a group in Madison Heights, Mich., that provides support to investment clubs, says total membership at groups it tracks fell to 39,000 in 2012, from 400,000 in 1998. Overall membership has declined every year since 1998.

    At the Old Bay Investment Club near Baltimore, four members quit last year. In northern New Jersey, investment-club devotee Tony Maiello used to draw 15 curious people a month to recruitment meetings. Several recent meetings attracted no new faces at all.

    “It used to be that if you went by the numbers, you could pick a pretty good stock, but that isn’t as true anymore,” says William Pearce, president of the Maryland club. “When the market takes a hit, even the good stocks take a hit.”

    To keep people interested, the club is using stock options to limit losses and is buying stocks of trendy companies, including one involved in three-dimensional printing.

    In the 1990s, enthusiasm of ordinary Americans helped unleash a bull market that was dubbed a love affair with stocks. But the collapse of technology stocks in 2000, the housing bubble and the financial crisis caused an epidemic of suspicion.

    Much of the overall stock market’s recent rise was driven by the growing clout of hedge funds, high-frequency traders and computer algorithms. Hedge funds and high-frequency traders generate more than half of all trading volume, according to Tabb Group. A market that once was driven by humans is increasingly dominated by machines.

    The problem, as many individual investors and investment-club members see it: Stocks aren’t fun anymore; they are scary. When stocks fall, ordinary investors feel pain. And when stocks rise, investors fear they will fall.

    Based on past periods of market trouble, psychology eventually will shift and optimism will grow, but frightened people can be slow to change.

    “If you get kicked and you are hurt, you curl up into a ball,” says Brooke Harrington, a sociology professor who wrote a book about investment clubs. “That is the beginning of the end for investment clubs.”

    A big problem for many clubs is that they were founded at the height of the market mania of the late 1990s. Even with the recent market recovery, stock indexes aren’t much above late-1990s levels once inflation is taken into account. Overall gains since then have been hard to get and volatility has been frightening. And like individuals, many clubs rarely match the indexes.

    Clubs that survive may do so for social reasons or because members want a financial education.

    As of Dec. 31, Mr. Danko’s club had eked out a lifetime gain of just 8% since it was born in the late 1990s, badly trailing inflation. For many years, its cumulative investments were in the red.

    The returns are painful to Mr. Danko, who used to edit a BetterInvesting magazine and has devoted more than 20 years to promoting careful stock analysis and long-term, buy-and-hold investing. While he still believes in the philosophy, “when you talk like that and then it doesn’t happen…it is kind of difficult to ask people to keep the faith,” Mr. Danko says.

    Investment clubs typically meet at the homes of members, who contribute $30 to $50 a month. Members report on portfolio performance and analyze stocks they are following. At a recent meeting in northern New Jersey, Jo-Ann Skiena Garey reviewed the book “A Random Walk Down Wall Street,” which argues that individual investors aren’t likely to beat stock indexes.

    “Why are we here? What are we doing?” Mrs. Garey commented, to laughter. The club soon got back to discussing stocks they might buy or sell. She wants to learn as much as possible so she can handle her personal finances better.

    Investment clubs trace their roots back at least to 1940, when some young men in Detroit started a club that grew into BetterInvesting, also called the National Association of Investors Corp.

    With membership plunging in the mid-2000s, BetterInvesting suffered disputes at the top that disillusioned some volunteers and led to new leadership.

    Some clubs left the national organization then, although people involved say that was a small part of the broader problem. Brian Altschul, who helps organize events for BetterInvesting and other investing groups, says the real issue is a loss of interest in stocks.

    “We used to have up to 800 people at our conferences, and now we are happy to have 100,” says Mr. Altschul.

    Some regional umbrella groups have withered or disbanded, leaving local investment groups on their own. Meanwhile, the Internet and social media have made clubs less useful.

    “When I go to the conferences in recent years, I am noticing more and more gray hair and less and less replacement investors,” says Daniel Boyle, a vice president at money-management firm Seger-Elvekrog Inc. in Novi, Mich. Its clients include investment-club members.

    Because the market has been troubled for so long, “it is really difficult for someone in their 20s to have any interest at all,” says Mr. Altschul, a friend of Mr. Maiello. “If you look at the financial blogs, most of them, especially for people in their 20s, are about recovering from debt, rather than about investing.”

    Kamie Zaracki, BetterInvesting’s chief executive, says the average age of investment-club members seems to have stabilized and even declined slightly. “When conferences are offered online, we are seeing fabulous attendance,” she adds.

    Mr. Maiello says investment clubs tend to die with a whimper. One club in which he was a member shrank to 10 people from 15. Then some members moved away, and one decided he was more interested in trading than long-term investing.

    “That left five of us, so it just disbanded” in 2011, he says.

    Investment-club members say they rarely have loud disagreements. Instead, interest fades, and the clubs wither. “People at the beginning get excited, but the market has been uncertain and over time, their interest peters out and they drop out,” Mr. Maiello says.

    “A lot of people, in their personal lives, their income is down and their portfolio is down, and it isn’t as much fun to be involved in a group where that is all we talk about,” adds Mr. Pearce in Maryland.

    Lynn Ostrem’s club near Minneapolis changed with a bang. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, the 15-member club saw the value of its portfolio slide 35%. She and three other members wanted to use automatic sell orders, options and other strategies to protect the portfolio.

    Other members hesitated to trade so actively. Ms. Ostrem feared the club was dying, so “we staged a coup and we blew them out,” she says. Now the club has four members.

    “A lot of people lost enthusiasm in studying stocks, and they didn’t want to participate at the level we needed them to. So we opened the door and freed up their future,” she says. “We are leaner, meaner and more casual.”

  83. chicagofinance says:

    grim unmod

  84. chicagofinance says:

    News at 11…..(clot Edition):

    Jurors reject East Village bar terrorizer’s insanity defense

    It took a Manhattan jury less than four hours today to reject the insanity defense of a psychotic, racist gunman who had held an East Village wine bar hostage in June, 2002, announcing, “White people are going to burn tonight!”

    Steven Johnson, an African American, AIDS-infected, unemployed Brooklyn barber, had spent the 40-minute siege pistol-whipping and holding guns to the throats of his 15 hostages, while ranting, “Die, mother f—ing cracker!” Johnson’s previous two trials, at which he also used the insanity defense, ended in a mistrial and an overturned verdict; he now faces life in prison for kidnapping and attempted murder.

    “White people must die and pay for what they have done to my people,” the barbecue lighter-waving fiend had shouted at his terrified captives, all of whom were white.

    He had left home that night ten years ago with a homemade catheter strapped to his leg, and a bag packed with dozens of plastic wrist cuffs, three handguns, a 30-inch sword, a barbecue lighter and a squirt bottle of kerosene.

    Even before he barged into Bar Veloce on Second Avenue, he’d shot a young passerby, who was also white, on the street outside the bar. During the siege, he also shot a female hostage in the leg, and a sushi chef who’d peered into the bar to see what was going on.

    The harrowing standoff only ended when the bezerk bigot was jumped by two female hostages, young women barely in their 20s who sprang into action even though they were bound at the wrists and soaked in kerosene. Both took the stand against him for the third time in December.

    “Shoot him again!” Ann-Margret Gidley, now 33, remembered screaming to cops as she and fellow hero Annie Hubbard grappled with Johnson on the wine bar floor.

    “They showed amazing bravery,” one female juror, who declined to be named, said after today’s verdict. “They were amazingly cool young women,” she said. “They were pretty gutsy.”

    Johnson was quickly convicted today of the entire kidnapping and attempted murder case against him, save for the one count of attempted murder involving the shot Johnson fired at the sushi chef, who suffered a gunshot wound to the hand.

    At each of his three trials, defense lawyers told jurors that Johnson, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and prosecutorial delusions, could not appreciate that his actions were wrong. The first trial deadlocked due to a lone, pro-acquittal holdout juror in 2004; the second resulted in a 240-year prison sentence, but the conviction was overturned on a technicality on appeal.

    Defense lawyer Michelle Gelernt, who represented Johnson at all three trials, argued that Johnson did know that his actions were illegal, but suffered command hallucinations and believed that God had ordered and sanctioned his actions.

    This trial had a new spin — Johnson for the first time took the stand in his own defense, not doing himself any favors by telling jurors personally that he believed himself to be just fine.

    “To be frank, I don’t particularly agree with my defense as a delusion,” Johnson had testified. “I’m perfectly sane.”

    “I didn’t object to it because my advisor, who is God, told me to let it go,” he explained of going along with the insanity defense.

    “Everybody should be proud of me,” he told jurors. “I stood up for my people. . .I didn’t do this. God did this. He put the ideas in my head,” he said, calling himself “the next Malcolm X.”

    On cross, though, assistant district attorney Steinglass reminded Johnson that days after the standoff, he had told a doctor at Rikers Island that, “White people killed my girlfriend and I am out for revenge.” The girlfriend had died of AIDS, according to testimony.

    Steinglass also reminded Johnson that during the standoff itself, he was caught on a 911 tape taunting cops and proclaiming that he was having “mad fun.” When a female hostage started crying and praying, telling Johnson, “Jesus loves you,” Johnson answered “Shut the f— up” and kicked her repeatedly in the face. “Correct,” Johnson answered when reminded of those kicks.

    In one bizarre exchange, Steinglass asked Johnson whether God had told him specifically who he wanted killed.

    “The enemies of my people,” he answered.

    “And who are the enemies of your people, Mr. Johnson?” the prosecutor asked.

    “The white man,” Johnson explained.

    “All white men?”

    “I said not all white men,” Johnson answered.

    “So how,” the prosecutor asked, “do you decide which white men are worthy of killing?”

    “They all look the same to me,” he answered.

    Sentencing has been set for March 8 by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Daniel FitzGerald.

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