Weekend Open Discussion

This is the time and place to post observations about your local areas, comments on news stories or the New Jersey housing market, open house reports, etc. If you have any questions you wanted to ask earlier in the week but never posted them up, let’s have them. Also a good place to post suggestions, requests for information, criticism, and praise.

For readers that have never commented, there is a link at the top of each message that is typically labelled “[#] Comments“. Go ahead and give that a click, you might be missing out on a world of information you didn’t know about. While you are there, introduce yourselves to everyone.

For new readers that have only read the messages displayed on the main page, take a look through the archives, a substantial amount of information has been put online in the past year. The archives can be accessed by using the links found in the menus on the right hand side of the page.

This post will remain at the top of the page during the weekend, any new posts will be displayed below.


Also, for those interested:

NJ RE Network Event
Location: Sheraton Parsippany Hotel
199 Smith Road, Parsippany, NJ
When: Friday, February 16, 6:30pm
Phone: 908-547-3153

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341 Responses to Weekend Open Discussion

  1. SG says:

    Thanks grim for posting today evening details on the front.

  2. SG says:

    House market down, but not spirits
    Friday, February 16, 2007


    For example, it took retirees Janet and John Schiefer almost a year to sell their century-old house in New Milford. When they finally sold last fall, it was for $415,000 — well below their original asking price of $499,000.

    “Things weren’t moving, so we had to come down,” said Janet Schiefer. The upside: prices were also soft in Florida, where the Schiefers moved, so they were able to get a house with a pool there for $265,000.

    “We had seen this [Florida] house and we came back and said, ‘You know, we’re only hurting ourselves by not taking the lower bid.’ The market was not getting better,” Janet Schiefer said.

    “We took the offer, and we’re so happy we did.”

    I sure many Retirees would be thinking the same.

  3. ww says:

    who would be dumb enough to attend that event?

  4. njrebear says:

    If i posted an address or a MLS id, would you guys be able to tell me if buyer incentives was part of the deal? I guess not, but what’s wrong in asking :)

  5. James Bednar says:



  6. Clotpoll says:

    Bear (3)-

    If it’s Garden State MLS, I can help you.

  7. James Bednar says:

    Housing Starts, Permits, and the Producer Price Index out at 8:30am.


  8. James Bednar says:

    We have NJMLS and GSMLS pretty well covered. Unfortunately, I’m still trying to find someone with access to the MLS systems that cover the shore areas as well as the southern half of the state.


  9. Al says:

    There is a way to never see price declines i official statistic:

    When YoY become negative, switch to Year over Two Years

    And so on. Like my idea??

  10. James Bednar says:

    For those interested in new developments in building (although if you are, it’s likely you are already familiar):

    Plumbers’ one word: plastics

    Ever peel away those drop ceiling panels and peek at the new pipes? You might find that old coppery sheen replaced by strands of red, white or blue.

    In the plumbing world, plastic PEX tubes are fast becoming the conduit of choice for drinking water and radiant heat. Contractors who’ve made the switch cite three reasons: flexibility, durability and price.

    Frank Meli, president of Meli Plumbing & Heating Inc. in Hackensack, has been using PEX for the past three years. He says the tubing costs 20 percent less than copper and saves as much as 40 percent in labor costs.

    PEX — short for cross-linked polyethylene — was developed in the 1960s and rose to prominence in Europe for its use in radiant floor heating. It reached the United States in the ’80s, but its use started taking off with its approval in plumbing codes in the mid- to late-’90s. Much of PEX’s stateside growth has been tied to the housing market boom and the parallel climb in the price of copper, which reached a record in May.

    With that rise, “people all of a sudden said, ‘We have gotta find something else,’ ” said Tony Radoszewski, executive director of the Plastics Pipe Institute in Irving, Texas. “We’re an overnight success. It just took 20 years to get here.”

  11. James Bednar says:

    who would be dumb enough to attend that event?

    I would.


  12. James Bednar says:

    China brings out the big guns for a fifth time with an half percent increase to the required reserve ratio.

    From Bloomberg:

    China Raises Lenders’ Reserve Ratio to 10 Percent

    China ordered banks to set aside more money as reserves for the fifth time in eight months to cool inflation and investment in the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

    Lenders must put aside 10 percent of deposits from Feb. 25, up from 9.5 percent, the Beijing-based People’s Bank of China said in a statement on its Web site, immediately before the start of a week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

    Central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan is concerned that cash from a record trade surplus is stoking excess investment, raising the risk of asset bubbles and accelerating inflation. Zhou has used interest-rate increases, bill sales and bank reserve requirements to rein in the supply of money, while resisting calls from the U.S. and Europe to let the yuan appreciate faster.

    The People’s Bank estimates each 0.5 percentage point increase in the bank reserve ratio cuts the amount available for lending by 150 billion yuan ($19.4 billion). China’s economy, the world’s fourth largest, expanded 10.7 percent last year, more than triple the pace of growth in the U.S.

  13. thatbigwindow says:

    3 day weekend! :)

  14. Willow says:

    “PEX — short for cross-linked polyethylene”

    My concern would be the polyethylene eventually leaching into the water. Also, how easy would it be to fix a leak?

  15. thatbigwindow says:

    In the past you had to worry about lead in your water from lead pipes.

  16. James Bednar says:

    I’ve played with PEX before, aside from the difficulties associating with having a number of different PEX systems (non-standard connectors and tools), it is very easy to work with. I think it’s ideally suited for remodel or reconstruction work. It’s very easy to pull long runs of PEX though a number of curves, something that is incredibly time consuming with copper.

    Personally, I’m not worried about the polyethylene tubing, keep in mind that you are currently drinking water that probably touches Iron, Copper, PVC, or Lead someway on it’s way to your faucet. Besides, why aren’t you using a good undersink water purification system ( Multistage Reverse Osmosis), even our dog drinks the good stuff.

    As far as leaks go, PEX tubing itself won’t leak. It has a tremendous amount of elasticity and can even withstand freezing without bursting. The issue is ensuring your PEX connectors are properly installed, the same goes for copper/solder. However a number of critics have expressed some concern over the dissimilar expansion characteristics of the tubing and metals used in the connectors. The concern is that because the expand and contract at different rates when exposed to heat and cold, the PEX-Metal connection might fail prematurely. Only time will tell there.


  17. lowball says:

    Now is a good time to buy copper…

    “PEX has become a contender for use in residential water plumbing due to its flexibility (it can be turned 90 degrees either by a wide turn or using an adapter; PVC, CPVC and copper all require elbow joints) and the capacity to run tubing direct from a distribution point continuously to the desired outlet fixture without cutting or splicing; this reduces the need for potentially weak and costly joints. The cost of material can also be approximately 20% less than alternatives, and installation is much less labor intensive.[1] PEX with Oxygen Barrier is used for Radiant Floor Heating applications, replacing the corrosion-prone copper pipes used in the past.

    The advantageous properties of PEX also make it a candidate for progressive replacement of metal and thermoplastic pipes, especially in long-life applications, as the expected lifetime of PEX pipes reaches 50-200 years.”

  18. BC Bob says:

    “Housing starts slumped 14.3 percent to an annual pace of 1.408 million, less than forecast and down from December’s 1.643 million rate, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Building permits declined 2.8 percent to a 1.568 million pace.”

    “Housing inventories are still beyond bloated, and starts aren’t going to recover in any meaningful way until those inventories come down,” Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, said before the report. “I would be cautious about calling an end to the housing slump just yet.”


  19. James Bednar says:

    From MarketWatch:

    U.S. building permits down 28.6% year-on-year
    U.S. housing starts down 37.8% year-on-year
    U.S. Jan. single-family permits down 4.0% to 1.121 mn
    U.S. Jan. single-family starts fall 11.2% to 1.108 mln
    U.S. Jan. building permits fall 2.8% to 1.568 mln
    U.S. Jan. housing starts fall to lowest rate since 1997

  20. James Bednar says:

    From MarketWatch:

    U.S. housing starts plunge 14% to lowest rate in 10 years

    U.S. home builders started the fewest homes in nearly a decade in January, as housing starts plunged 14.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.408 million, the Commerce Department reported Friday. It’s the lowest rate for starts since August 1997. Housing starts were down 37.8% compared with January 2006. Building permits dropped 2.8% to 1.568 million in January, 28.6% below the same month a year ago. The starts figure was much lower than expected on Wall Street, where economists were looking for a 2% drop to 1.60 million annualized units. The permits figure was close to the 1.58 million expected by median forecast in the MarketWatch survey of economists.

  21. James Bednar says:

    From the Census Bureau:


  22. James Bednar says:

    Also from MarketWatch:

    Housing starts plunge 14.3% to 10-year low

    The starts figure was much lower than expected on Wall Street, where economists were looking for a 2% drop to 1.60 million annualized units. The permits figure was close to the 1.58 million expected by median forecast in the MarketWatch survey of economists.

    The stunning drop in home building indicates that builders are scaling back their plans on a massive scale to work down the excess inventory of unsold homes on the market. Hopes that a bottom in the housing market has been reached will have to be re-evaluated.

    (emphasis added)

  23. BC Bob says:


    Very troubling when the HB’s walk away from their land options. The outcome?? The #’s posted. Simply, HB’s are pulling the plug since it’s just not profitable for them to build. It’s cheaper for them to walk away. Gloomy days will continue for them.

  24. Al says:

    PEX — short for cross-linked polyethylene…

    Actually the polyethylen leakage wil be the highest in the first few month of usage, and slowly decay to almost nothing with time… (non-cross linked single molecules will escape first).

    In addition – so far, scientists argue that PEX is very inert in our bodies – you can eat plastic bags……

    I would be a lot more worried avout heavy metals which come from old city piping/water filtration system/water source and you old COPPER piping…..

    PEX will not be absorbed by your body but heavy metals will be, and heavy metals cataions do accumulate.

    Anyways – thats my 2 cents. The only concern I have – is that pastic pipes are a lot more fragile – if you hit them hard they will break and this is significantly worse in cold weather.

    But again – how often do you touch your pipes???

  25. James Bednar says:

    As horrible as the starts data is this morning, there is a positive side to these numbers.

    The builders could have easily continued to build, adding to already high inventories. Instead, the builders are scaling back on a massive scale. Although one could argue that it is a bit late.

    Unfortunately, should housing “level off” here, it will only be a matter of months before we start to see signficant layoffs in construction and housing related industries.


  26. AntiTrump says:

    A snippet out of the Investment Advisers Letter to investors from one of my favourite mutual funds (Fairholme Fund) 18.13% annualized return since inception (1999). These guys are based out of Short Hills, NJ.

    “To paraphrase Ben Graham, you are not right because others agree, you are right when your facts and figures are correct, regardless of what Mr. Marker is doing.”

  27. BC Bob says:


    Yes there is a postive and negative aspect of this report. Inventory has to be cleared. On the other hand, the employment #’s should be interesting going forward.

  28. 1987 Buyer says:

    having lived through this before, 2007 = 1989
    (assumption 2005 = 1987)

  29. AntiTrump says:

    Another snippet from the FMI Large Cap Fund Letter:

    “For example, take Toll Brothers, a large homebuilder. At the beginning of 2006, the stock looked cheap at 6 times expected 2007 earnings of roughly $5.25. By the end of the year, the p/E had moved to nearly 18 times as the estimate cratered from $5.25 to $1.75. The stock declined nearly 40% by the summer of 2006 before recovering a portion of the loss. The homebuilders, to include Toll Brothers, are certainly more interesting today at higher multiples than a year ago at lower multiples, but we think the downturn has a long way to go. ITtis an area we could revisit later.”

  30. HI says:

    New construction rose in the northeast and dropped in every other part of the nation. why is that?

  31. nwbergen says:

    Is it OK just to drop in unannounced for this evenings get together?

  32. James Bednar says:

    New construction rose in the northeast and dropped in every other part of the nation. why is that?

    Which statistic, specifically, are you talking about? Starts, Permits, Under construction, completed? Month-Month or Year-Year changes?


  33. James Bednar says:

    I don’t think an RSVP is required, it’s just a hotel bar.


  34. RentL0rd says:

    SG, Is it just drinks this evening? No dinner, right? Are you planning anything specific?

    After all the spiel about not attending, looks like I may have a change of heart!

    JB, this sounds like a blog singing event :)

  35. Rich In NNJ says:


    Besides, why aren’t you using a good undersink water purification system ( Multistage Reverse Osmosis)…

    I’m SURE you’ve researched all the manufacturers and models available… any recommendations?

    Feeling Lazy

  36. Richard says:

    Also excerpted from the housing data. This might mean builders are scaling back the torrid pace of building to match the climate and as such are feeling better about however they’ve positioned themselves going forward.

    “A private survey of homebuilders’ sentiment rose in February to its highest level since June 2006. The National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index jumped to 40 in February from 35 the previous month.”

  37. BC Bob says:

    Anti [28],

    Good info. Keep it comimg, of course with the disclaimers.

  38. SG says:

    This chart shows Homes Under construction in Northeast Since 1990.


    As you can see, in 2007, counstruction has reduced, but it still significantly high. In fact you can see during 1990’s bust, it took 3 whole years for the construction numbers to come down. Also the peak this time is actually almost at same height as the one in 1990, may be coincidence.

  39. James Bednar says:

    I’m SURE you’ve researched all the manufacturers and models available… any recommendations?

    Talk to Walter at http://www.airwaterice.com

    He really is the H2O guru. I use Walter’s systems exclusively and have installed more than 20 of them. His systems are cheaper than anything you’ll find at a big-box and are significantly higher in quality. Excellent price on filter replacements and membranes as well. Don’t hesistate to pick up the phone and ask him, it’s amazing how much the guy knows about water.

    No affiliation with AWI other than having used his products for years.


  40. Rich In NNJ says:

    From Wall Street Journal via MarketWatch

    Home Improvement Lite

    Home Improvement Lite
    As Market Chills, Owners Try Cheaper Renovations; ‘I Made Some Bad Decisions’

    The housing slump is hitting the home-improvement industry.

    After several years of double-digit increases, spending on remodeling was sluggish last year. In response, manufacturers of countertops, appliances and other remodeling products are introducing cheaper alternatives as homeowners trim their makeover budgets — scaling back the size of their projects, doing their own handiwork or acting as their own contractors, sometimes with disastrous results.

    But as home prices have fallen, so too have the financial rewards of renovating. The median price of new and existing homes dropped 10%, to $225,000, in the fourth quarter of 2006 over the same period a year before, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The value of remodeling has been shrinking, too: A homeowner who finished a basement — a $57,000 job on average nationally — got back 79% at resale in 2006. In 2005 the same job returned 90%, according to the 19th-annual Hanley-Wood’s Cost Versus Value survey, published last fall. Remodeling a bathroom with upscale products like stone countertops and a bidet cost $38,000 and returned 77% in 2006, down from 93% in 2005.

    The diminishing returns have dampened spending on remodeling, which grew by 1.5%, to $168.7 billion, in the fourth quarter of 2006 over 2005, according to a report released in January by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. In 2004 and 2005, quarterly increases were as high as 20%. Many homeowners are choosing to “postpone or pass on major home improvements,” says Nicholas Retsinas, the director of the center, and that is likely to continue until the housing market picks up.

    Much more at the link above,

  41. Rich In NNJ says:

    Thanks JB!

  42. UnRealtor says:

    Repost from yesterday’s old thread:

    Just did my ritual scan of listings, and there’s certainly no shortage of dummies jumping into the abyss.

    There must have been some pent up demand, mixed with people having little regard for financial losses, because late Jan/early Feb produced a bunch of Greater Fools under contract for obscene amounts of money.

    Glad it’s not me signing the papers.

  43. dar monger says:

    Jim –

    do you have the merlin full house system? or just the undersink job

  44. SG says:

    RentL0rd: Its just a bar.

    I am sure they can serve Dinner if needed. But its all up to you if want to order food or just have drinks.

  45. UnRealtor says:

    Adding to #42, how can people be so insanely oblivious, to go into contract on overpriced houses that have been on the market only a week or two?

    Some of these Greater Fools are partying like it’s 2005.

  46. James Bednar says:

    I haven’t used the whole house systems, so no experience. They are very expensive.

    The undersink retrofits are simple installations, so I’ve used those.

    I’ve got an older Typhoon (RO Only) that was modified for under-sink use by adding the tank, ASOV, and faucet. I use a extreme Typhoon (RO/DI) for the aquarium.


  47. James Bednar says:

    I’d probably suggest the E-D system now, specifically with the 50gpd filmtec (higher rejection rate)and the permeate pump(which significantly reduces waste water). RO systems are notorious for wasting a significant amount of water. Depending on the water temp and pressure, you might be wasting up to 5 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of product.

    Two caveats with these systems, and I tell this to everyone.

    1) You are essentially creating your own Lab-Grade water. This water is very pure, especially if you use deionization as well. Because of this, product water does not contain chlorine, chloramine, or any of the bromines that are typically used for disinfection. What the heck does this mean? Don’t store the product water. It has nothing in it to stop microbes or bacteria from calling it home.

    2) This water does not contain flouride, heck, it doesn’t contain much of anything. Thus, your kids need to have some kind of alternate flouride source.


  48. bergenbubbleburst says:

    #42,45 Unrealtor: What towns/areas are you seeing this in.

    Are you saying the houses thatare just coming on are selling? how about the houses that have been on the market for months.

    The oens that are sellling any idea what prices they are going under contract at?

    I would watch and see if they come back.

    A few in my area I was watching fell off the multiple listing and then cam back, although I honestly do nto know if the listings simply expired, and then relisted, or if they wnt under contract, and then the deals fell through.

  49. James Bednar says:

    U. Michigan February consumer sentiment came in under estimates..

    U.S. Feb. UMich consumer sentiment 93.3 vs 96.9 in Jan.

    Consumer sentiment eroded slightly in February after a big gain in the previous month, according to researchers at the University of Michigan on Friday. The consumer sentiment index retreated to 93.3 in February after jumping to 96.9 in January from 91.7 in December. The drop in February was lower than expected. The consensus forecast of Wall Street economists was for sentiment to slip to 96.2. The current conditions index fell to 108.3 in February from 111.3 in January. The expectations index slipped to 83.7 from 87.6 in the previous month.

  50. dar monger says:

    Jim –

    How are your fish these days? Still have that ginormous sized tank?

    btw – I wonder how all the looming layoffs for construction will affect inventory. I’m sure that most of the construction types have holdings, and they will have to liquidate also at some point.

  51. James Bednar says:

    CR has some the most recent dataset digested and graphed already:


    He has a pretty gloomy outlook for the residential construction industry, a loss of 400-600k jobs by summer.



  52. BC Bob says:


    You are right about a hedge fund. It almost seems as if we are back to the late 1990’s, when everybody was quiting their full time jobs to become day traders. Now the sexy game is hedge funds. Just to name a few relatively new participants, [either employed or started their own], Madeline Albright, Richard Breeden, Lawrence Summers and John Snow. I wonder if it’s time to hedge a hedge fund???


  53. dar monger says:


    I saw that book the other day at the bookstore, thought it was quite entertaining that there is a “dummies” book for hedge funds. Next thing that will be out there will be a “dummies” book for swaps ;)

  54. James Bednar says:

    Missed this one yesterday, from Bloomberg:

    S&P to speed mortgage warnings

    In another sign of growing concern about mortgages made to high-risk borrowers, Standard & Poor’s said it would no longer wait for homes to be foreclosed on and sold at a loss before alerting investors in mortgage-backed bonds that it expects to lower ratings on the bonds.

    The ratings company now will consider issuing downgrade warnings based on the amount of loans that are delinquent, in foreclosure proceedings or already backed by seized property, Robert Pollsen, an analyst at the New York-based firm, said during a conference call with investors Thursday.

    S&P will assume that none of the borrowers more than 90 days late will resume paying their mortgages, he said.

    The firm is reacting to rising delinquencies and defaults on the riskiest types of home loans made in 2006. Many of those loans were packaged and sold to investors via mortgage-backed securities that pass interest through to the investors.

    “It is a watershed event” because it means S&P is now actively considering downgrading bonds within their first year, said Daniel Nigro, a portfolio manager at Dynamic Credit Partners, a manager of about $6 billion in hedge funds and collateralized debt obligations. “We welcome them being more open” about their methods.

    One of the bonds S&P warned about this week was backed by Alt-A mortgages. It was the company’s first warning about any of those securities sold in 2006.

    Alt-A loans often are made with less proof of borrowers’ pay, or are interest-only loans or “option” adjustable-rate mortgages, whose payments can fail to cover the interest owed.

    “In terms of performance, I’d say there are equal concerns” about Alt-A loans and sub-prime loans at S&P based on early delinquencies, Warner said.

    The Alt-A bond S&P warned about was issued by Calabasas-based Countrywide Financial Corp., the largest U.S. mortgage lender. Newport Beach-based Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. made the loans.

  55. James Bednar says:

    One warning isn’t enough to call a trend, but the question needs to be asked.. Is the subprime shakeout bleeding into the Alt-A market?


  56. James Bednar says:

    From MarketWatch:

    Big banks control fate of subprime lenders

    A credit crunch in the market for low-end mortgages has left companies specializing in these subprime loans at the mercy of big banks like Merrill Lynch & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase.

    Subprime mortgages are offered to home buyers who fail to meet the strictest lending standards. While these loans remain a small part of the home lending industry, they’ve helped more people buy homes who previously couldn’t afford it, helping to fuel a surge in housing prices in 2004 and 2005.

    That’s why the credit crunch in the subprime market is being so closely watched by investors, economists and policymakers. By cutting off access to credit for these extra buyers, demand for homes may fall further, depressing prices and fueling a broader slowdown in the U.S. housing market.

  57. njrebear says:

    more on 51,

    The pace of decline in housing is unprecedented. From the graph in #51 –
    It took 4-5 years (1984-1989) for housing starts to climb down from 2mil to 1.4 mil units.
    This time it took us less than a year.

  58. James Bednar says:

    A question for the group.

    Why is credit treated as if it were protected by constitutional right?

    Credit is a privilege granted by the lender.

    While I agree that *access* to credit should never be denied based on race, creed, or color; I think it should absolutely be denied based on past credit history and income.

    So when politicians argue against restricting subprime loans, are they acting on behalf of the borrowers that might be “shut-out”, or the banks and lenders that stand to lose revenue?


  59. dar monger says:

    Is it really just standard grandstanding for their bases? or is it that restricting sub-prime lending would cause the market not to run up and therefore not allow the tax revenue to raise at a significantly larger rate?

  60. AntiTrump says:

    Unrealtor and Bergenbubblebust:

    I see an uptick in activity in Short Hills/Summit/Millburn/Berkeley Heights/New Providence.

    Anything over 900K is still stuck.
    $800K to $900K Good houses are going into contract.
    $700K to $800K decent houses are going into contract.
    $600K to $700K any crap goes into contract.

    Anyone who was *priced out* last year from these towns maybe seeing value as similar homes are selling for 50K to 100K less than last year.

    My view having watched this market for two years is that it is your typically spring buyer who is jumping in early finding bargains compared to last year. I still believe things will get worse before they get better. I plan to sit out most of this year and will start low balling early next year, maybe. Just from the selection out there, I am much, much better off than the choice out there same time last year.

    The other thing that surprised me is the number of new listings in the $700K range in Millburn/short hills this year. A year ago there was hardly any inventory in the less that $800K range in Millburn/Short hills.

    Buyers who are not aware of the larger trend/train wreck is looking at today’s price and seeing a bargain compared to last years price.

  61. njrebear says:

    Populist schemes to attract attention. With foreclosures increasing they see a whole new voter base that can be tapped.

  62. dar monger says:

    Also interesting is that all of the major banks and IB firms are exercising their rights to demand sellers to buy back high-risk loans. I wonder how much that will affect the lending conditions as the exercise causes originators to bear default costs

  63. Al says:

    Also interesting is that all of the major banks and IB firms are exercising their rights to demand sellers to buy back high-risk loans. I wonder how much that will affect the lending conditions as the exercise causes originators to bear default costs

    No effect – lenders will declare chapter11.

    their personal assets are untouchable. and as far as compny assets – all they have is a building they rent with some computers. They already paid all the profits to themselves.

  64. chicagofinance says:

    grim (as you know):

    bankers -> follow the money
    politicians -> follow the votes

  65. chicagofinance says:

    WSJ Quoting Economists:

    Much weaker than expected report. The payback we expected to emerge over the course of the first quarter as the artificial boost to activity over the course of the fourth quarter from the unusually warm weather was reversed appears to have come through right away in January … Based on these results, we cut our forecast for residential investment in the first quarter and reduced our GDP forecast to +3.4% from +3.6%. – David Greenlaw, Ted Wieseman, Morgan Stanley Research

    * * *
    We didn’t really believe the reported increase in December starts and we are equally inclined not to take too seriously the reported January plunge. The starts numbers are hugely volatile even when weather conditions are normal for the time of year, but that has not been the case in the past couple of months. The permits data are less affected by the weather, and the downtrend there seems to be over, at least for now. Another stable month in Feb would confirm the shift. Ultimately, this is more important than the noisy starts numbers, even though the latter appear more supportive of our medium-term bearish growth view. – Ian Shepherdson, High Frequency Economics

    * * *
    [T]his decline was aggravated by harsh winter weather. However, because of the shifting weather patterns, it may be better to average the last three months, which would be about 1.54 million. Sales of new homes appear to be stabilizing; with inventories of unsold new home still elevated, housing starts will stay weak but not necessarily continue to contract. Nevertheless, housing contribution to economic growth will be substantially negative again in the first quarter. — Steven Wood, Insight Economics

    * * *
    You can’t blame this one entirely on the weather, and we continue to maintain the worst is NOT over for housing. … Single family starts, and permits, reflect the lingering glut of unsold homes remaining on the market. Moreover, … there is still a considerable amount of new supply still hitting the market … inventory problems are only going to intensify over the coming months. Adding to the mix is the fact that mortgage lenders have apparently seen the light and are tightening lending standards. – Richard Moody, Mission Residential

    * * *
    Although housing starts will probably remain weak in 2007 (permits in January were 29% below the year-ago level), as builders continue to scale back activity in order to keep a lid on supply, housing demand continues to show tentative signs of stabilization. The MBA purchase gauge in January remained around a historically high level of 400, while the NAHB housing market index in February rose by five points to 40, its highest level since last summer. — Omair Sharif, RBS Greenwich Capital

    * * *
    Anyone who wants to sugar-coat the housing industry’s state of affairs [had] better look at this morning’s housing-starts report. Construction of new single-family and multifamily properties plunged 14.3% to an annualized rate of 1.408 million units from 1.643 million units in December. The year-over-year drop was even more dramatic — 38%. Not only was January’s starts figure well below the forecast for 1.6 million, it is the WORST TO DATE for the down cycle in housing. — Mike Larson, Weiss Research

    * * *
    [T]he slowdown in housing will leave appliance and building supply manufacturers eager to entice retail customers with good deals. Moderate growth in consumer incomes and falling housing prices will force apparel retailers to price aggressively to attract customers. … Prices for new and existing homes have moderated, not collapsed, … Once completed, the housing adjustment should promote healthy growth and moderate inflation less dependent on consumer borrowing. – Peter Morici, University of Maryland

    * * *
    The weakness in January was in all the regions which had experienced the biggest boom in building. Only in the Northeast was there slightly more building in January. It was the area that participated least in the boom and where the contraction in the past year has been smallest. Home completions have fallen only 8% over the past year. The gap between this lagging indicator of activity and starts helps explain why construction jobs have not fallen commensurately with new starts. – Brian Fabbri, BNP Paribas

  66. dar monger says:

    to 63 –

    not about the lenders, i just mean the lending conditions – would that cause risk managers to further tighten conditions on lending?

  67. dar monger says:

    (in terms of speeding up the sub-prime crash)

  68. Al says:

    T0 62, 63, 66, 67 – there will be a lot less Subprime Lenders, less competition, therefore harder to qualify for loans and higher priced subprime loans. \

    Plus I would expect almost complete elimination of 100LTV loans… (huge source of Appraisal Fraud in the last 3 years – all you need is somebody who do not care about their credit rating.)

    May be incase of: stellar credit record, documented stable high paying job like an MD – there will be 100LTV but not for everybody who is breathing, like it is right now.

  69. xl5 says:

    Al said:
    But again – how often do you touch your pipes???

    everyday bro ;)

  70. chicagofinance says:

    – (threat of) regulation
    – cost of capital (i.e. spreads)
    – liquidity
    – counterparty risk limits
    – specific (type of) risk limit

  71. James Bednar says:

    One warning isn’t enough to call a trend, but the question needs to be asked.. Is the subprime shakeout bleeding into the Alt-A market?

    From HousingWire:

    Opteum Loses $33.9 Million in Fourth Quarter; Trouble Brewing Outside of Subprime?

    Opteum Inc. reported late yesterday that it lost $33.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2006, driving a $49.5 million consolidated net loss for the full year. The REIT is the latest lender to report negative operating results, but unlike many other lenders reporting losses, the company is not heavily invested in the subprime mortgage market.

  72. bergenbubbleburst says:

    The northeast participated the least in the housing boom?There may not have been the absolute
    insanity that there was in soem other areas, but there was insanity nonetheless, in the northeast, or at least in NJ, NY and Mass.

  73. njrebear says:

    From what i have read, Alt-A is presumed to be more riskier than subprime because the loan amount is much bigger.

  74. njrebear says:

    clot (#6)

    I don’t have the address with me right now. I will post it later today. Place is in Medford,nj

  75. njrebear says:

    Recently i have noticed a pattern of false acquisition rumors started by ‘unnamed sources’. Within a few days the deal is called all rubbish but the stock price remains the same.

  76. bergenbubbleburst says:

    #60 Anti-Trump I am amazed that you are still seeing that kind of activity, that there are still soem people out there that do not have a clue.

    I do think you are right on the early Spring buying season, but I think come late march or April when you start to see tons of inventory hit the market, this spurt will evaporate.

    I will probably be sitting out this year as well, although I do believe you will see much better discounts this year than last, as sellers finally accept the new reality.

    The really good deals I belive will start in the Fall of this year, into 2008.

  77. BC Bob says:

    Alt-A changes,

    1)Stated income/stated assets now verified??
    2)Reliance on the borrowers credit scores rather than the adequacy of the underlying collateral, bye,bye??
    3)Low doc/no doc?? How about a scope up your *ss??

  78. James Bednar says:

    What ever happened to that stated fico loan? :)


  79. BC Bob says:

    “would that cause risk managers to further tighten conditions on lending?”


  80. Seneca says:

    Off topic

    Jim, it’s time for NJREReport to have its own favicon. Your site looks too old school bookmarked in my favorites without an icon. (Even GSMLS has one!).

  81. James Bednar says:

    If you find one, I’ll gladly add it. Maybe a state outline?

    I really wanted to talk wiki today.


  82. njrebear says:

    Consumer sentiment takes surprising dip
    U. of Michigan survey falls far short of forecasts, hurt by concerns about unemployment and inflation.


    The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said its preliminary February consumer sentiment index declined to 93.3 from 96.9 in January.

    Analysts on average had predicted that February’s reading would edge up to 97.0 but the actual result was below their lowest forecast, which was 93.5. The January reading was the highest since December 2004.

  83. dar monger says:

    Bob –

    Do you think that the volatility in lending would affect all classes, with institutions then strategically restricting loan availability?

  84. njrebear says:


    CitiMortgage, a unit of Citigroup Inc., last month began requiring that borrowers who take out a “stated-income” loan sign an affidavit attesting to the fact that information about their income in the application is accurate and hasn’t been modified by their mortgage broker or loan officer.


    Can Citi now sue borrowers who stated an income well above capacity and foreclosed?

  85. chicagofinance says:

    The Mets announced Rickey Henderson and Ozzie Virgil Sr. will be special instructors for the team and are headed to spring training. The 48-year-old Henderson also filled the job last year.

  86. BklynHawk says:

    Let’s talk wiki? What did you have in mind?


  87. James Bednar says:

    Can Citi now sue borrowers who stated an income well above capacity and foreclosed?

    Sounds more like a “CYA” for the broker or LO.

    Lenders already have all the recourse necessary to go after borrowers that committed fraud-for-property by lying about their income on a stated income loan.


  88. chicagofinance says:

    For Citi this is going forward…..who cares now?

  89. Chuchundra says:

    I’m from Long Island, but I haven’t been able to find a decent LI RE blog. Any sugestions?

    Also, is it okay if I hang with you guys?

  90. chicagofinance says:

    grim the favicon should be the “grim jim” visage from the playing card cartoon.

  91. njrebear says:

    cf #89,
    do you feel we have gone past the point of no return?

  92. RentinginNJ says:

    The northeast participated the least in the housing boom? There may not have been the absolute
    insanity that there was in soem other areas, but there was insanity nonetheless, in the northeast, or at least in NJ, NY and Mass.

    I think these areas did fully participate in the boom. They just didn’t necessarily do it on their own turf. Run-ups in places like Florida were largely driven by home equity extraction from the Northeast Corridor. People were borrowing against their Jersey homes, with their comparatively high values, to flip preconstruction condos in Florida.

    These loans will need to be repaid, which could be painful if you find yourself underwater on your investment property. NJ homeowners are already deeper in debt than homeowners from most other states. I wonder what, if any, impact this will have on the local economy?

  93. njrebear says:

    Deconstructing the Money-Honey mess
    The imbroglio involving CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo and fired Citi exec Todd Thomson is about much more than plane rides – and it may not be over, says Fortune’s Barney Gimbel


  94. The Kid says:

    The Kid wants to know what is wiki?

  95. James Bednar says:


    While I enjoy the blog format, too much important information becomes lost among the comments. Once a topic leaves the main page, it becomes almost impossible to find it again. Many times, users come on asking basic questions, or looking for basic information, and they just can’t find it. Of course not, we’ve got almost 60,000 comments stored in our database.

    However, I can’t handle the job of creating and running another website, I just don’t have the time.

    This is where a wiki comes in.

    For those who aren’t familiar, take some time to check out http://www.wikipedia.com (if you haven’t already. It is probably the most famous Wiki around. A wiki is nothing more than a collaborative website that allows users to add and alter content without having to know much about building websites or how to navigate web-design tools. The focus is really about getting relevant information into one resource, and making it easy enough for everyone to do.

    I don’t know where the wiki will end up, but I can imagine it containing information on the local market, area descriptions, about school districts and rankings, lists of links, and countless other resources.

    The Piggington site has a great resource for first-time readers:


    He calls it a “Bubble Primer”. I’d like to replicate that, with a focus on the local market. I know a number of you have been asking for a document, and others have actually started to put documents together.

    What I’m hoping is that we can build it, in a collaborative fashion, without having to rely on anyone to make web changes, ftp files up to the server, etc.

    For those of you who are already wiki-savvy, I’d like to use the MediaWiki software. However, if anyone has another suggestion, please let me know.


  96. James Bednar says:

    From Bloomberg:

    Subprime Mortgage Derivatives Tumble for a Fourth Straight Week

    A derivatives index used to bet on the riskiest U.S. mortgage bonds headed for its fourth straight weekly decline as more lenders said they were losing money.

    Prices for credit-default swaps linked to 20 securities rated BBB-, the lowest investment grade, and created in the second half of 2006 have fallen 2.6 percent to 83 this week, and are down 15 percent since Jan. 18, traders say. The decline, which indicates a deterioration in the perception of credit quality, means an investor this week would have paid more than $950,000 a year to protect $10 million of bonds against default.

  97. LeeS says:

    Ok, do I do it? Should I even look? I saw a nice 4BR house in a town I love. The asking is $339k and they bought it in Dec. 06 for $245k, with MAYBE 1k invested in repairs. It has everything I like, should I tempt myself by looking, or just hold off and see what else hits the market this year. Or for that matter, should I do the even smarter thing and rent for 1 more year while I save up an even bigger down payment (already have $40K, could probably put together another 25k over the next year if I really put down a budget on paper).

    Anyone know any nice towns in NNJ to rent a house at a reasonable price if I have to go the renting route? I’d need something convenient to access to downtown NY, something thats no more than a 20 min ride to newark so i can catch the path. Thanks.

  98. njrebear says:

    JB or others,

    What’s the difference between the following coupons? The names are the same but rate of decline don’t match.

    1] ABX-HE-BBB 07-1 7 1 224 0A08AIAC4 88.31 98.35 86.52
    2] ABX-HE-BBB- 07-1 7 1 389 0A08AOAC1 84.53 97.47 83.35


  99. James Bednar says:

    They are different tranches, I think you might have missed the “-“.



  100. bergenbubbleburst says:

    JB or TBW: Would you guys be able to provide me with the numbers for Oradell from close of 05 to close of 06 (median rpice/averagr price) Thanks in advance.

  101. James Bednar says:

    Great piece from the Economist..

    Bleak houses

    America’s riskiest mortgages are set to pop. Where will the shrapnel land?

  102. Rich In NNJ says:


    SFH, Cond, Co-op, Twnhse
    2005 Avg $594,841; Med $589,900; Sold 80
    2006 Avg $638,446; Med $590,000; Sold 93

    SFH Only
    Avg Price Med. Price
    2005 Avg $601,388; Med $599,000; Sold 78
    2006 Avg $642,867; Med $599,000; Sold 91

    Cond, Co-op, Twnhse Only
    Avg Price Med. Price
    2005 Avg $339,500; Med $280,000; Sold 2
    2006 Avg $437,250; Med $375,000; Sold 2

  103. RentL0rd says:

    For those of you who are already wiki-savvy, I’d like to use the MediaWiki software. However, if anyone has another suggestion, please let me know.

    jb, I have played with MediaWiki, which is provided my web hosting provider.
    If you need any man-power for testing configurations, beta testing, etc. please feel free to drop me a line.

    I hope to be at the Sheraton this PM

  104. njrebear says:

    That’s it. I missed the ‘-‘ :)

  105. njrebear says:

    favicon could be a NJ map with a fuse [instead of the house] :)


  106. chicagofinance says:

    njrebear Says:
    February 16th, 2007 at 12:50 pm
    cf #89,
    do you feel we have gone past the point of no return?

    What does this mean?

  107. RentL0rd says:

    how about “jb” for the favicon.

    5 yrs from now after this market has turned and we have all bought houses, JB would still have something interesting to talk about.

  108. bergenbubbleburst says:

    #103 Rich in NNJ: Not to be an idiot, but what is the best way to interpert this data for SFH’s only, the average went up by 40K, but the median stayed the same? from 05 to 06?

    So then if I read this correctly prices are flat from 05 to 06, no declines yet? Thanks.

  109. James Bednar says:


    A $250,000 agent incentive, the highest that I have ever seen.

    MLS# 2375970 – Boonton, NJ – $7,850,000


  110. James Bednar says:

    From the DJ newswire..

    DJ No Turnaround For Home Prices Until Midyear, Economists Say
    By Steve Kerch

    The U.S. housing market has not reached bottom and will likely not begin to recover until the middle of this year, three housing economists said Wednesday.

    The weakness will extend to existing-home and new-home sales and housing starts as well as to home prices, which are likely to show their first full-year decline nationally since records have been kept, the economists told home builders at their annual convention.

    “I don’t think we’ve seen the bottom,” said David Berson, chief economist for Fannie Mae (FNM). “We’re going to see a much bigger drop in investor demand this year. But by the second half of the year, the market will stabilize, if investors pull out quickly.”

    Berson said he expects the home-price index calculated by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight will show a nationwide decline in values for 2007, the first time that will have happened since the data began being collected in 1975. Unlike other measures, the OFHEO data measure the price changes on the same homes over time, meaning the index is less likely to be skewed by the types and locations of sales.

    “It won’t be a big decline, maybe 1%. And the declines will be far more centered in areas that have had the most investor activity,” he said. “Real home-price gains, adjusted for inflation, will be negative this year, next year and possibly the year after that.”

    The biggest problem the housing market faces is “a seriously large inventory situation,” said David Seiders, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, which is hosting the International Builders Show this week. Seiders said the housing boom in 2004 and 2005 produced at least 400,000 more housing units than demand could support and builders are having to push hard to move those homes off the market.

    Seiders, though, said that he believes home sales did hit bottom in the fourth quarter and that housing will make a “gradual recovery” over the next two years. He said housing could actually begin to make a positive contribution to economic growth again starting in the second half of this year.

    “One of the good things is that the U.S. economy has been able to handle the dramatic correction in housing,” he said. “GDP growth, unemployment, the overall inflation situation and interest rates” have all been positive despite housing’s woes, he said.

    Seiders said he is forecasting housing starts to decline 14% in 2007 to 1.56 million units. Single-family starts will drop 15% to 1.26 million. Those numbers would compare with a peak of 2.1 million units started in 2005 and represent a return to 2002 levels, he said.

    “There is still a little room for sales and starts to weaken,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for Freddie Mac (FRE). “We should hit the trough in the first half of the year. But we’re a few years away from the robust levels of activity we saw in 2005.”

  111. Rich In NNJ says:


    Yes, the average price is up but the median price is flat.
    The data is for the ENTIRE year. It’s not comparing Dec. ’05 to Dec. ’06.
    Dec. ’05 Avg $649,047; Med $500,000
    Dec. ’06 Avg $652,554, Med $495,000

    So then if I read this correctly prices are flat from 05 to 06, no declines yet?

    For ALL of Bergen County I show median prices topping out in August and dropping towards the end of the year. The drop was enough to practically wipe out three quarters worth of gain.
    The only way to see the trend is to look at the data YOY or at the least, by quarters.

    Jan $522,000
    Feb $530,000
    Mar $515,000
    Apr $485,000
    May $525,000
    Jun $530,000
    Jul $525,000
    Aug $535,000
    Sep $492,000
    Oct $480,000
    Nov $480,000
    Dec $495,000
    Jan $480,000

    And don’t forget to factor in for inflation.

  112. SG says:

    Best Cities For Jobs
    Hannah Clark, 02.16.07, 6:00 AM ET

    Raleigh, N.C., topped our list this year. The city has low unemployment, strong income and job growth, and high incomes–yet it still maintains a relatively low cost of living. Raleigh is part of the “research triangle,” including Durham and Chapel Hill. Three major universities–Duke, the University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State University–make their homes in the area. The result: A city with good weather, a relatively low cost of living and a highly educated population. “There isn’t much of a negative in Raleigh,” says Steven Cochrane, an economist with Moody’s economy.com, which provided us with the data for this story. “It has a lot of the amenities of Florida, except not the hurricanes.”


  113. bergenbubbleburst says:

    #113 Rich in NNJ Thanks for all th information. So the median price of course is the more important, or better indicator, than the average price, and the median price is dropping is that correct?

    Iam trying to get a handle on prices in the 400K to 500k range in Oradell where they ended in 06, and how they are stating to trend this early in 07. I think I need another cup of coffee.

  114. bergenbubbleburst says:

    Sorry should be Rich in NNJ #112

  115. AntiTrump says:

    #90 Chuchundra:

    If you are willing to pay exorbitant taxes to support our state employees, please feel free to join us.

  116. Richie says:

    RE #10: PEX Tubing..

    My dad’s a plumber, he’s been exclusively using PEX/plastic piping since 2003-2004 when copper got out of hand for all new construction. Much easier to work with, flexible, durable, and cheaper.

    Soon our pennies will be made of plastic.


  117. Richie says:

    I can’t make it tonight; gotta take baby to see the grandparents..

  118. James Bednar says:


    Are you going to stop by tonite?


  119. James Bednar says:

    Ahh, too bad.


  120. Rich In NNJ says:


    The median price is the middle price of an even amount with half the sales being higher and half the sales being lower.
    The average is the sum of all the prices divided the total number of sales.
    Neither is perfect but the industry seems to prefer using the median price.

    Here is data for Bergen County for the last 11 years
    Year Avg$ Med$ %Gain of Med$
    1995 $256,865 $215,000
    1996 $268,192 $220,000 2.3%
    1997 $281,978 $223,000 1.4%
    1998 $301,504 $235,000 5.4%
    1999 $327,674 $255,000 8.5%
    2000 $371,299 $281,000 10.2%
    2001 $402,781 $315,000 12.1%
    2002 $457,456 $360,000 14.3%
    2003 $501,658 $399,000 10.8%
    2004 $565,882 $450,000 12.8%
    2005 $649,841 $510,000 13.3%
    2006 $681,009 $514,500 0.9%

    The best way for you to gauge if prices are dropping is to know the market. Visit the open houses (sorry Booyaa) and track the sales. Two identical houses with identical lot sizes may have 3 bedrooms and 1 ½ baths each but one could be on the corner of a busy street while the other has central air and updated kitchen and baths. Over time you’ll know a house is priced right for the current market, its location and it’s “contents”. Then then the haggling begins!
    Value is in the eye of the beholder as well as beauty.

    If you want the history on a particular home, let me know.

  121. The Kid says:

    The Kid cannot make it tonight. As such, The Kid has a request, can someone please take photos? This monumental gathering needs to be documented.

    The Kid

  122. AntiTrump says:

    #121 Rich In NNJ Says:

    Agree with Rich completely here. The best way is to research the towns you are interested in by going to open housing and tracking the inventory. It will be quite obvious to you what the situation is. The only problem is that I have to create fake identities as I don’t want the listing agent to harass me. ;-)

  123. Richard says:

    >>Anyone know any nice towns in NNJ to rent a house at a reasonable price if I have to go the renting route? I’d need something convenient to access to downtown NY, something thats no more than a 20 min ride to newark so i can catch the path. Thanks

    if you’re balking at paying $339k for a house sounds like you aren’t going to want to pay the rent required to meet your above criteria.

  124. Al says:

    if you’re balking at paying $339k for a house sounds like you aren’t going to want to pay the rent required to meet your above criteria.

    Thats what I have never understood about people in NJ – since when 339K is cheap??????

  125. Rich In NNJ says:

    AntiTrump #122

    I write my real name and write down the name of my realtor or hand them my realtor’s card.

    If they want feedback they call him. It’s happened maybe 3 times out hundreds of open houses.
    Besides, he’s my friend and I’ll practically be giving him the commission as I’m doing my own leg work.

  126. bergenbubbleburst says:

    #121 Thanks Rich, puts things in a better perspective. The stagnation period is about a year old, with some declines.

    Now we will start to see more and broader based substanial declines this Spring, assuming the sellers are serious.

    Enjoy the long weekend!

  127. Cirrus says:

    JB – instead of a wiki, why not a forum? They’re so easy to setup and maintain, I’m sure a few people here would be (A) More than qualified to be moderators to filter the junk and keep things orderly and (B) Want to volunteer their time to do so.

    Forums allow topics to be threaded more easily IMO than a Wiki and allow one to explore a topic more in depth without constant diversion (which aren’t necessarily BAD, but, you know…)

    You could still maintain the blog, and start a new thread per news item. But then, the people asking for MLS stuff could have a forum dedicated to, “Can somebody pls look up an MLS.” And somebody today could’ve started the whole, “What is PEX and what are the plusses/minuses.”

    Plus the search function would be invaluable.

    Just my .06 (inflation)

  128. chicagofinance says:

    James Bednar Says:
    February 16th, 2007 at 2:50 pm
    From the DJ newswire..

    Please do not post entire articles. We may need to place your posts in moderation should this behavior continue.

  129. RentinginNJ says:

    New construction rose in the northeast and dropped in every other part of the nation. why is that?

    One possible explanation is the relative difficulty of securing permits and approvals in the Northeast, which tends to be highly regulated and highly populated. This means longer lead times and high sunk costs by the time you actually secure your permits. The necessary permits, once in hand, constitute a valuable “regulatory asset”. This makes the decision to “abandon ship” much more difficult in a place like NJ.

  130. njrebear says:

    What We’re Hearing


    Merrill Lynch’s actions in regard to margin calls on its mortgage banking clients had many executives talking this past week. Merrill’s latest victim of buyback requests is California wholesaler ResMAE, a company founded six years ago by former Long Beach Mortgage chief Jack Mayesh. Does Merrill have the right to ask mortgage bankers to repurchase loans if they go bad in the first 90 days? Of course it does. But in its bankruptcy filing ResMAE claims that $308 million in buybacks that Merrill forced upon the company were not even delinquent! That’s what the document says. ResMAE charges the loans “were current despite” being what it calls “technical” early payment defaults. ResMAE also says that Merrill thinks it has the right to put loans back to the company for an “unlimited” period of time. Merrill would not comment.
    The Merrill-ResMAE dispute raises another issue. For months we’ve been hearing about what a poor job some Wall Street firms do “interim” servicers. Nonprime mortgage executives say that after the loan is funded and delivered certain Street firms screw up the paperwork. Is this just excusing making? Merrill, by the way, owns a “scratch and dent” servicer called Wilshire. How large is Wilshire’s portfolio? No one knows because Merrill, after it bought Wilshire, stopped disclosing those figures to NMN and its data-collecting competitors. Merrill also owns a mortgage banking unit in Florida. How much does that operation fund? We don’t know because Merrill doesn’t disclose those numbers. Meanwhile, talk is continuing that Merrill’s very own subprime arm, First Franklin, will only benefit from all its competition going out of business…

  131. SG says:

    Allright guys, I am off to Sheraton GTG. Hope to see some of you all there.

    Have a great weekend.

  132. jayb says:

    “We have NJMLS and GSMLS pretty well covered. Unfortunately, I’m still trying to find someone with access to the MLS systems that cover the shore areas as well as the southern half of the state.”


    You need help with Hudson MLS data?

  133. BC Bob says:

    “One of the good things is that the U.S. economy has been able to handle the dramatic correction in housing,” he said. “GDP growth, unemployment, the overall inflation situation and interest rates” have all been positive despite housing’s woes, he said.

    From post # 111,

    Regarding the positive factors, besides the fact that those that bought into this charade had a job, [with the lending standards, this is not guaranteed] how did each of these contribute to this mania??

    1)GDP, 2001-2005- zero effect
    2)Inflation, 2001-2005- zero effect
    3)Interest rates, 2001-2005- historic low fixed rates had zero effect. Toxic teaser rates?? Bingo.

    This market topped out sometime around the 4th quarter of 2005. It takes the general public approx a year to start, EMPHASIZE START, to realize the game is over. Essentially, John Q started to figure this out this around the 4th quarter of 2006.

    What’s the prognosis from the industry?? We are stabilizing and we are at/near the bottom. This is so damn asinine/moronic, do you laugh or cry?? We have witnessed the biggest real estate bubble of all time. Is it reasonable that it unwinds in such a short period of time?? IMO, buckle up we are just at the beginning of the unraveling. The news we have heard regarding the subprime is just the first shots fired, many more to come. That being said, get used to hearing bottom. I venture to guess that we will hear bottom more than actual bottoms down the Jersey Shore this summer.

    Cause down the shore everything’s all right.

  134. BC Bob says:

    Cirrus [127]

    Regarding a forum, go to the top of the page. I thought is was a great addition, let you search different topics. The majority did not like it. I think the # of posts dropped dramatically [but not positive].

  135. lowball says:

    “It’s hard to envisage going through a period as expansionary as we have without some decline in home prices before it’s all over, but I don’t look for anything really significant,” Mr. Greenspan said yesterday.

    Really? You Dirty Rat!
    Then why Bill Gates just dumped all his home builder stocks?
    Rot behind bars GreensKum!!!

  136. BC Bob says:

    I thought I’ve heard/seen it all. Clot/KL, is this the secret to success??

    “Anyone who has bought or sold a home knows appearance counts. Real estate agents call it curb appeal. But, evidently, the cosmetic appearance of a home isn’t the only thing that matters. The cosmetic appearance of the real agent showing the place apparently speaks volumes, too.”

    “Recently, Cohen — she won’t give her age — did what a growing number real estate agents are doing: she had her eyebrows and her eyeliner permanently tattooed on her face.
    The procedure, also called cos metic tattooing or micropigmentation, cost her more than $900.
    Cohen attributes the rise in the number of real estate agents getting permanent cosmetics to the slowing housing market.”


  137. UnRealtor says:

    BC #135, very Tammy Fae.

    I saw one realtor at an open house who, let’s just say, ‘had some work’, and boy was that jarring.

    Didn’t look human.

  138. Zac says:

    Grim and the crew are at the restaurant.
    Hmmm, do you think they’re talking about us?

  139. rhymingrealtor says:


    Anyone here looking for a house in Boonton. I can help !!!

    If I can sell that house my husband doesnt have to tell anyone he’s really Anna Nicole’s baby’s father. And I can even get Eyebrows.


  140. Zac says:

    hey Rhyming…
    Do builders like Hovanian and the others use the MLS system? I was just now looking online at houses in Millstone Twp. and noticed alot of vacant homes, little info about the house, no taxes listed and a few called ‘builders models.’
    Any chances of low-balling one of these builders on a McMansion ???

  141. BC Bob says:

    What, no blogging from the bar??

    “Dozens of smaller subprime originators have ceased operations or are scaling back new lending. One of the mortgage industry’s top executives, Angelo Mozilo, chief executive of Countrywide Financial, was quoted as saying: “There’s probably 40 or 50 [subprime loan originators] a day throughout the country going down in one form or another. And I expect that to continue throughout the year.”

    “What’s going on here? At a recent Senate hearing, a leading consumer-protection advocate, Martin Eakes, chief executive of the Center for Responsible Lending, called the subprime market “a quiet but devastating disaster.”

    “The “ultimate effects are very much like Hurricane Katrina,” he said, but “the difference is that this disaster . . . is occurring every single day across the country, house by house and neighborhood by neighborhood.”


  142. Pat says:

    Holy cow, Bob.

  143. Pat says:

    Weird. They must be offering up a goat.

  144. BC Bob says:


    Good to see there are two sober bloggers, keeping their eye on the ball.

  145. Pat says:

    You know, I was sitting here for a while, lamenting my sick husband and lack of a babysitter.

    But it could be worse. I could be in a bar somewhere, scaring the heck out of the poor bartender with tales of recession and Fed rate hikes.

  146. BC Bob says:

    “I could be in a bar somewhere, scaring the heck out of the poor bartender with tales of recession and Fed rate hikes.”

    God forbid if the bartender just closed on a house. He/she would drink all the profits.

  147. Jay says:

    Bob, this sub-prime blowup is happening very quickly and is getting a lot of attention. It looks like it will be a prime catalyst to create a general credit crunch. If it does, the RE market will really be heading south much more quickly than is generally predicted.


  148. rhymingrealtor says:


    I don’t have acess to Monmouth county, but they still have to list thru a realtor to go on mls, what you are seeing does’nt have a realtor to get in touch with?? Smaller builders use Realtors.


  149. Tim says:

    A coworker of mine is making an offer on a home tommorow and the realtor called her up and said she had another offer. The house has already one expired listing. And there not even lowballing, only about 5% off list. She also mentioned the realtor is getting them a home inspector. And she trusts the realtor, that she is only looking out for her best interest, I could barely keep my mouth shut.

  150. Zac says:

    yes – they do have a realtor to get in touch with. I was just using the MOMLS.com.
    I was thinking that with all the empty McMansions, maybe low-balling a builder would be the way to go.
    I really don’t care what town I live in. I just want a really really good deal.
    And I remember 8 or 9 months ago, when there were very few people on this blog; a low-ball offer was considered at least 30% under asking price.

  151. Pat says:

    Zac..wasn’t it off peak/05 wish?

  152. Zac says:

    thats Booya Bob

  153. John B says:

    I attended the gathering at the Sheraton Tara this evening and was very impressed by the turnout. What a diverse group of interesting, and friendly folks! I’d suggest we try and schedule a regular monthly get together and perhaps have some kind of workshop / guest speaker / subject matter expert cover some of the most popular debatable topics. I’d love to see a lively debate over where prices are headed! LOL !

    And perhaps a friendly card game after, I’ve been meaning to learn how to play poker.

    Thanks James & Grim !
    Johnny B

  154. jerseygirl says:

    Need some info anyone….on an address for MLS#2295730 in berkeley Heights.

    thanks any info is greatly appreciated.

    Hope everyone had fun at the gathering tonite, I have been a lurker for approx 9 months and think maybe next time I would consider attending.



  155. Jay says:

    The Psychology of Pricing
    from the NY Times

    IN a market where buyers and sellers circle one another warily — each certain that he or she is being taken advantage of, no matter what the conclusion of a deal — the asking price of a property is rarely a straightforward reflection of comparable values. While comparables may be a starting point, the price at which a seller offers a property is often also based on wishful thinking, propaganda and ploy.

    Buyers, in turn, parry by deconstructing the price. They aim not merely to assess a dwelling’s fair value but also to plumb a seller’s bottom line and vulnerabilities. How a price tracks with similar properties, how large and hasty any reduction is, and even how parsed or rounded a number is — all these are grist for concluding, rightly or not, whether a price is firm, desperate or a sign of painful dealings to come.

    More at

  156. Pat says:

    I’ve always wondered at some of the prices I’m seeling lately…very specific..$458,255, for example.

    I thought maybe it was REO.

  157. Jay says:

    yes, it’s always puzzled me as well when you see those odd-ball asking prices.

  158. James Bednar says:

    Just got home from the get-together…

    I want to thank everyone for taking the time to come out. It really was alot of fun. I do look forward to doing it again in the near future. I concur with John, it was a very diverse and interesting group. I only wish I had more time to sit down and talk with everyone.


  159. Clotpoll says:

    Second that. Many thanks again to SG for putting this together. Good times.

    Mmmm…some frozen Ikea Swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce will make a delightful end to this evening.

  160. Clotpoll says:

    BC Bob-

    Whoops! Almost forgot…have seen no spread on BC/Carolina tomorrow night. Will e-mail you tomorrow when I see it.

    Lots of talk about the de facto currency tonight.

  161. Rich In NNJ says:

    Even though I have my own mental picture of many regulars on this site (many of you are overweight… I don’t know why…), I wish I hadn’t a previous engagement this evening. I really would have loved the opportunity to meet many of the “characters” on this site. (Although it would probably ruin my expectations.)
    If it was a success, I hope SG plans another (same location would be great as it’s not far from “prestigious” Bergen County) get-together next month.


  162. still_looking says:

    It was great to meet everyone! We had a great time discussing all sorts of topics!

    It really is educational when you blend people with such a diverse range of interests and occupations together!

    We look forward to the next one!


  163. rhymingrealtor says:

    Rich In NNJ Says

    Even though I have my own mental picture of many regulars on this site (many of you are overweight… I don’t know why…), ,

    Uhhhh maybe because we spend so much time sitting at the computer….


  164. syncmaster says:

    Can someone with access to GSMLS.COM tell me what MLS #2310126 sold for?


  165. Rich In NNJ says:

    rhymingrealtor Says:

    Uhhhh maybe because we spend so much time sitting at the computer…

    Oh wait, that’s not a mental picture.
    It’s a mirror.


  166. rhymingrealtor says:


    M LS 2310126 $357,000


    Overweight insomniac

  167. SG says:

    It was fun to meet many regular folks yesterday evening. I had that tinkling feeling going into the meeting, What if no-one shows up. Well that went away soon, and lots thought provoking discussions took its place. And I have to agree with earlier posts, what a diverse background. To name few by profession A Chief Blogger, An economist, Realty firm owner, RE Investors, Food Broker, Cabinet maker etc… With such a diverse group, the discussion was all over the place, Politics, Markets, Investments, Foreclosures, Lowballing, Marketing to sell house, how houses were constructed in 50’s vs 90’s etc…

    John B recommended getting some experts in next meetings. I support that 100%. I am not a finance or economics guy, would love to understand more (so I can make more money!!)

    Come to think of, we may be onto something here. So far, most clubs out there meet for a specific purpose only. We were kind of like Sienfeld – Meeting with No Specific Purpose (his episodes on show for nothing comes to mind :-). Anything under the sun can be discussed.

    Well so in plan for next meeting we need an Expert. Any Volunteers from the board?

  168. Pat says:

    Wifi zone place would bring some more possiblities without expert.

    Demos, site sharing and use, viewing on-line training videos and discussion (for example, HUD Purchase experts with videos on-line, etc.)

    There’s a lot of free stuff out there.

    You might have people here qualified but limited by work issues and non-compete agreements, who might be able to give input.

  169. James Bednar says:

    From the Asbury Park Press:

    Creditors peg Dwek debts at $400M

    The bottom line on claims against Solomon Dwek’s bankrupt property empire: More than $400 million — double the payroll of the richest team in baseball, the New York Yankees.

    The bulk of the claimed debt was incurred within a year of the spectacular collapse of Dwek’s 350-property empire, which was sparked in April when he bounced a $25 million check at a drive-through window at a PNC Bank in Eatontown.

    Solomon Dwek owes approximately $350 million to 98 creditors and investors, according to claims filed with the state court-appointed manager of his properties. The claims were due Thursday, but the figure does not include some who didn’t file because PNC Bank pushed Dwek into federal bankruptcy court last week.

  170. gary says:

    Thank you SG for organizing the event and it was a pleasure meeting everyone there. I wish I had more time to talk to everyone in depth as well. The time flew by.

    Thanks also to JB for being so patient with the bombardment of questions.

    Now, on to business: When are we crashing Jimmy Weicherts house? :)

  171. lostinny says:

    I’m sorry I wasn’t able to attend last night. It sounds like it was a good time. I do hope to make the next one.

  172. New In Town says:

    Somehow, when I think about why someone would imagine that others they do not know have in common as a group an undesirable trait, the words ‘snob’ and ‘prejudice’ come to mind.
    This can’t be true, certainly. Often too much can be inferred from an offhand remark.
    But to me it seems better to assume that others are pretty much like me, rather than that they are not, until it is shown to be otherwise.
    Perhaps I should change my handle to Pangloss?

  173. njrebear says:


    Citigroup CEO meets with Saudi prince
    Bank’s largest shareholder has called for ‘draconian’ cost cuts as shares have underperformed the market

    Sure, make even more riskier loans!

  174. BC Bob says:

    Sounds like all had a great time. Hopefully, I can make the next one. Glad to see the cobwebs are gone and you’re back to your stations.


    BC, +7 – Daily News Line

  175. AntiTrump says:

    From Today’s NY time article:

    “I’ve seen prices like $433,779,” said James Lake, a vice president of Bellmarc Realty. “It indicates it’s going to be a difficult transaction from beginning to end.”

    Ms. Sacks agreed. “That would be a real turnoff,” she said. “Then, you’re talking about someone who’s going to be arguing about leaving a curtain rod.”

  176. AntiTrump says:

    More from the NY Times aritcle today:

    Sellers who have priced too high can still salvage the situation. Brokers say they must act quickly — ideally within a few weeks — and make sure there are buyers around to take notice. (“In July, a one-bedroom price drop will get activity, but a Classic 6 probably won’t because families are away,” Mr. Phillips said.)

    Second, to be effective, the lower price must tempt a whole new group of buyers, which means slimming down to at least the next break point.

    “Something dropping from $949,000 to $899,000 will suddenly show up on someone’s radar,” said Lisa Strobing, a Bellmarc executive vice president who teaches classes on pricing to agents.

    For sellers already hovering just above a break point, the reduction can be small though psychologically significant, like going from $2.01 million to $1.95 million. But in general, Ms. Fox said, “small reductions are a waste of time.” She recommended whittling down by 5 to 10 percent, or more depending on the situation.

    Of course, Mr. Phillips said: “A good broker will interpret certain things if a property’s been around for a month at $1.5 million, and then dropped by $100,000. If another couple of weeks go by and there’s no action, you will know a little bit of negotiation is possible there.”

  177. AntiTrump says:

    Recommend Reading this article in full from nytimes.com. No registration required for current days articles.


    If you can click the link. go to nytimes.com and then real-estate section. You will see the article on the first page titled “The Psychology of Pricing”

  178. RentL0rd says:

    SG, Grim, Clot, gary, KK, still_looking, and the guys who don’t post but joined us neverthless ;-) … great to meet you all!

  179. RentL0rd says:

    CommanderBobNJ.. how could i

  180. RentL0rd says:

    and Adam.. I need your autograph on a $20bill next time

  181. syncmaster says:

    rhymingrealtor #168,


  182. abamitphd says:


    Why ruin a perfectly good piece of currency?

  183. AntiTrump says:

    Some excerpts from an editorial in today’s wall street Journal:

    “However, we finally have a threat that really does bear watching — namely, a potential credit crunch precipitated by the housing downturn and rising default rates. As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke noted in his Senate testimony this week, the economic damage from the real-estate slide has so far been contained to housing. But in addition to the pain that homebuilders have experienced, banks and mortgage brokers are increasingly feeling the pinch, especially in the sub-prime sector. And in a perverse sort of populism, lawmakers are making noises about reducing access to credit for the riskiest borrowers, which would only exacerbate the crunch and could help take the economy down into recession.”

    “The Fed’s remarkably easy monetary policy helped goose house prices over several years. In turn, a large number of first-time buyers took advantage of low mortgage rates, especially on adjustable-rate loans, to stretch their buying power in the hopes of leveraging their way up the home-buying ladder. But someone finally blew the dog whistle in late 2005, and the buying dried up.

    Now the housing market is flat to down across most of the country and loans with adjustable rates are adjusting upward. So even with unemployment low and the economy still humming, marginal buyers can suddenly find themselves forced to sell. And if they had little equity to begin with, they may not have much money left after they sell — if they can sell at all. If they can’t, they fall behind on their payments and the banks have to book the loans as delinquent.”

  184. AntiTrump says:

    more from the same editorial:
    “Thus does a virtuous circle caused by easy money turn vicious, and interest rates aren’t even all that high — at least not yet. The Fed’s concern over housing’s potential effect on the broader economy is no doubt one reason it has kept short-term rates at 5.25% for several months, despite signs that inflation risks remain. Notwithstanding yesterday’s monthly inflation statistics (a function mainly of energy prices), gold has climbed back up to $665 an ounce, the dollar is weak, and “core” inflation remains above the Fed’s 2% upper limit.”

    “The unknown is how far the credit contagion will spread. While rising, overall delinquency rates are still fairly low. But if banks continue to be hit by defaults, it may constrain their lending in other areas. Credit spreads, which have remained remarkably narrow, could widen. Meanwhile, Congress’s newfound preoccupation with “predatory lending” could, if it leads to changes in the law or in tough lending standards, increase the credit squeeze currently beginning to be felt. Decreasing consumer access to credit would in turn cast a pall over consumer spending and add another drag on the economy.”

  185. abamitphd says:

    I also had fun last night, and look forward to making this a regular event.


  186. Clotpoll says:

    Next time we meet…a “see-through” in Edgewater. Everyone brings their own crowbars, Krylon and MD 20-20.

  187. KK waits patiently says:

    Rich In NNJ:
    Housing anxiety burns calories!

    “Mmmm…some frozen Ikea Swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce”
    Don’t you know…this season it’s all about mango chutney. :)

    Grim, you are awesome! SG, thanks again for organizing. I appreciate the opportunity for camaraderie with those who share a common interest. I would encourage anyone who frequents this blog, but is “on the fence” about meeting, to attend next time. This friendly group is well-versed in their chosen studies/professions, which affords lively conversation and intriguing insights.

  188. Rich In NNJ says:


    Then I guess I need to worry more!


  189. BC Bob says:

    20% of the world’s population is celebrating. I wonder what they are buying for gifts??? Happy New Year!!

    “According to Chinese folk customs, 2007 is the ‘Year of Gold’, one of the five elements, and also is the ‘Year of the Pig’, a sign on the Chinese zodiac. The pig is regarded as good luck for a good life. A ‘Golden Pig’ baby has the benefit of being born under two lucky signs.”


  190. BC Bob says:

    Is today’s bottom tomorrow’s top?? Long article but worth reading.

    “we are perhaps in the 1st quarter of the residential downturn. That quarter usually sees the first signs of slippage give way to a market “FREEZE” where foreclosures are not yet hitting comparable with auction numbers, and sellers still have Kudlow type sugarplums rather than reality dancing in their heads. A wild prediction, the eventual residential downturn will approach the Texas 1980’s or the New York 1974-5’s. Maybe worse!”


  191. metroplexual says:

    Was anyone listening to Bloomberg Radio yesterday? I could not believe my ears, from around 9:30 to 3:00 when I was listening just about the entire focus was on the negatives in housing. From subprime implosions to vacancies and the 1/2 a million homes being built right now. The expert (I forget who) said there are 4 million vacant houses nationwide.

  192. RentL0rd says:

    KK, the website I was talking about yesterday – http://www.breakoutwatch.com
    The subscription can get expensive though :(

  193. RentL0rd says:

    ps: no affiliation whatsoever to that site – except that I use its services

  194. James Bednar says:

    Why ruin a perfectly good piece of currency?

    Defacement of Currency

    Defacement of currency is a violation of Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code. Under this provision, currency defacement is generally defined as follows: Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

    Defacement of currency in such a way that it is made unfit for circulation comes under the jurisdiction of the United States Secret Service.

  195. James Bednar says:

    A must-read for the die-hard econogeek.

    How Resilient Are Mortgage Backed Securities to Collateralized Debt Obligation Market Disruptions? (PDF)
    Hudson Institute

  196. still_looking says:

    (196) so if Dubya ends up on a 3 dollar bill I don’t get to draw horns and fangs on him???

    oh well… back to looking…anyone with access able to get addresses for me? 2375517 and 2375775 and whether they’re relisted??

    Gotta laugh.. I just saw a re-list (new mls #) of a prop in hillsborough we looked at…all with some new pics… I’m not too sure they even gave it a trim, let alone a haircut!


  197. metroplexual says:


    So, I am in the new Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum out by Dulles airport 4 weeks ago. They have this machine which for two quarters and a penny will stamp the museums name and whatever special exhibit you choose on the penny.

    Now if the Smithsonian not only condones it but profits from mutilation of currency should the organization be sanctioned or is it just a dumb statute?

  198. The ponzi money has gone POOOOOFFFFF! says:



  199. still_looking says:



  200. RentL0rd says:

    shall be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

    hey, I can live with that ;-)

  201. nwbergen says:

    I was nice meeting everyone last night. SG thank you for organizing the get together. I still don’t know who Clotpoll is, I guess I left to early. See you all in a week, we are off to Mexico to warm up.

  202. BC Bob says:

    “I still don’t know who Clotpoll is”

    I wonder the same???

  203. chicagofinance says:

    The Subprime Market’s Rough Road
    February 17, 2007; Page A7

    Rising defaults and delinquencies by home buyers with shaky credit are wreaking havoc in parts of the mortgage industry and stirring concerns about a stumble in the U.S. economy.

    Foreclosure rates on “subprime” loans — those made to borrowers with poor credit records — more than doubled last year from 2005, according to a UBS report. Some firms that specialized in those loans now face large losses or even bankruptcy. This past week, Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. reported a $37.8 million loss for the fourth quarter — three times wider than analysts expected. Also this past week, ResMae Mortgage Corp. became at least the 20th subprime lender to close or be sold when it filed for bankruptcy.


    Who stands to lose should the industry collapse? Firms that specialized in subprime mortgages are feeling pain right now, as are financial institutions that lent to those firms. But the subprime market is fairly fragmented: The top three subprime lenders had a roughly 21% market share combined last year, and the top 10 controlled less than 60% of the market, according to a UBS report.

    Because so many of these mortgages were used to back bonds that were then sold off to investors world-wide, the risk has been spread more broadly through the economy. In 2005, two-thirds of home mortgage originators were securitized, according to the FDIC. Investors in the derivatives market who sold protection against the riskier loans stand to lose money if defaults increase.

    Some hedge funds and banks, on the other hand, made the opposite bet, and will make money as borrowers default.

    Could the collapse of the subprime market presage a bigger unraveling of the economy? Mr. Bernanke voiced concern about the subprime-mortgage industry on Capitol Hill this past week, but gave an otherwise upbeat assessment of the economy, which has seen unemployment reach near-record lows, strong corporate profits, steady gross domestic product growth and moderate interest rates.

    But some worry that the subprime shakeout will lead to tightened credit restrictions on all borrowers, which could hurt consumer spending. Credit tightening also could cause further pain in the housing market, dashing hopes that the worst of the housing slump is over.

  204. The ponzi money has gone POOOOOFFFFF! says:

    Credit meltdown>>>hehehehehe

  205. abamitphd says:


    that would be six months for me, not you.

    i’d rather sleep with my wife than take a chance rooming with the average guy at a low-security facility.

  206. BC Bob says:

    “dashing hopes that the worst of the housing slump is over.” [#206]

    Back to April 17, 2000, Nasdaq approx 3,600 on its way to 1,100

    JAMES CRAMER, THESTREET.COM: No, I believe — and I was a heavy buyer on Friday.[edited]

    PRESS: But even if you look at this recovery today, Nasdaq is still down 29 percent below what it was on March 10, the high of this year. So isn’t the trend, Jim, definitely down, despite these ups and downs?

    CRAMER: No, look, we had a very orderly sell-off until last Friday, which was anything but orderly. But we’ve had a series of pull-backs in the last 18 years, all of them look in some way, shape or another like this, which just hit a lot of the institutions. And some individuals panic. Cooler heads prevail, people come in, get an opportunity to buy the dip, and it works. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it works and it worked again.I’ve got to tell you, I don’t think the individual is done investing one bit. I think he’s back, he’s going to stay back, he’s smarter than ever. I just don’t buy it.

    CRAMER:[edited] Well, geez, you know, the time to sell has happened. Now it’s time to look at bargains. There are bargains everywhere. There are bargains in drug stock, bargains in computers. That will get Greenspan, who is the man who has been ratcheting and ratcheting and ratcheting up rates, gets him off the back of this market, which allows the market to kind of gently go back up. And by November, all- time highs once again and Gore’s in. Sorry, that’s the way it’s going to be.

    CRAMER:Sun Micro, a lot of the companies that Bill may think are too high because they are pieces of paper but we know are going to generate excellent profits, if you take a longer-term perspective on those, you’d do quite well. And forget the talking heads. Half the time, the talking heads are looking at the chart of the stocks and they’re just too nervous.


  207. Clotpoll says:

    BC Bob (191)-

    Call me a “golden pig”. Heck, call me a copper, nickel, silver, steel, titanium, corn, soybean, orange juice, wheat, sugar, coffee and pork belly pig.

    Oops…”pork belly pig” is redundant.

    Sync (205)-

    Thanks for outing me. Guess I’m gonna have to get my face tattooed into some sort of Realtor death rictus now.

  208. Clotpoll says:

    Many earlier this week were asking about different ways to close title. Well, check this out…the first electronic purchase money title close ever in Indiana:


    When this hits NJ, you’ll be able to open your windows and hear the collective whimpers of all the lawyers. Like starving wildebeests in the canyon…

  209. BC Bob says:

    Call me a “golden pig”.


    Once every 60 years or every 600 years depending on the stars. The ironic part is that it begins tomorrow. Who’s B-day tomorrow?? I guess I better buy more gold??

    By the way, did you see my post 52 regarding your comments on hedge funds?

  210. Clotpoll says:

    BC (212)-

    Missed that post. I like the idea of hedging a hedge fund, though. Maybe it’s time to get short vs Fortress (NYSE: FIG). Their IPO last week was not exactly a moon shot, and I do think the idea of a publicly-traded hedge fund is straight outa the Three Stooges. I can’t, however, find out what the short interest or ratio are right now. Do you know?

    All disclaimers apply. Shorting stocks exposes the investor to the potential of unlimited losses.

  211. BC Bob says:


    If someone wanted to own shares in a hedge fund why don’t they just buy the biggest? Goldman.

  212. Clotpoll says:

    Yeah, but Goldman’s activities are diluted by investment banking, consulting, VC, etc. It’s not a pure play as a hedge fund.

    And, I’ve heard Goldman’s proprietary trading hasn’t been lighting it up lately.

    All disclosures apply.

  213. jerseygirl says:

    sorry to ask again…can anyone help me with the address and possible info for MLS# 2295730 in Berkeley Heights.

    Thanks, it states its a building lot and my husband wants to build a house rather than buy “someone elses headache” (his words). He is a carpenter and can make junk look beautiful with a little fancy trim work.

    Thanks in advance for the info.


  214. Clotpoll says:

    How about Sears (NASDAQ: SHLD) as a hedge fund play? Cramer is always going off about this being a way to get a piece of Eddie Lampert on the cheap. 10B of trading profits last quarter is not exactly chump change.

  215. Clotpoll says:

    Jerseygirl (216)-

    On Summit Rd, off Murray Hill Blvd (no street number). Stylin!! Nice views there, too.

    Didja just rob a bank?

  216. Jamil Hussein says:

    I have a bit anecdotal evidence how desperate realtors are nowadays in Manhattan.
    I’m often window shopping with my wife outside the local realty offices.
    Before, we could do this without being approached by realtors but in the last few weeks this has changed. Nowadays, if we are spotted by a realtor while checking out the ads, the realtor will immediately dash out of the office and starts asking question like “interested in buying?”. We always say no thanks, just browsing but the realtor continues and gives her card. They must be desperate. This happened last weekend and again today (with different realtors).

  217. jayb says:

    Other than a google search or someone specifically looking for RE blogs about NJ, how else will someone find out about this blog? Minus word of mouth. This is directed more at James.

  218. rhymingrealtor says:

    BC Bob

    I was the crazy beeping lady today.


  219. BC Bob says:

    “I was the crazy beeping lady today.”


    Don’t let them bid higher than my lowballs.

  220. Steve says:

    Hi all… interesting (albeit scary) spreadsheet to play around with…


  221. chicagofinance says:

    Clotpoll Says:
    February 17th, 2007 at 4:47 pm
    BC (212)-

    …….and I do think the idea of a publicly-traded hedge fund is straight outa the Three Stooges. I can’t, however, find out what the short interest or ratio are right now. Do you know?


  222. AntiTrump says:

    Saw these listings on craigslist. Not sure how accurate this is. Can anyone with MLS access confirm that this guy isn’t bs?

    MLS # 2317848
    18 Meadowbrook Rd, Short Hills
    Bought for $755,000 (June 2004), now at $705,000.

    MLS # 2367287
    318 Taylor Road South
    Bought for $865,000 (Dec 2004), now available $859,000.

  223. AntiTrump says:

    Saw these listings on craigslist. Not sure how accurate this is. Can anyone with MLS access confirm that this guy isn’t bs?

    MLS # 2317848
    18 Meadowbrook Rd, Short Hills
    Bought for $755,000 (June 2004), now at $705,000.

  224. AntiTrump says:

    And this:
    MLS # 2367287
    318 Taylor Road South
    Bought for $865,000 (Dec 2004), now available $859,000.

  225. Richie says:

    Below cost? I wouldn’t pay $200,000 for that house.

  226. abamitphd says:


    Note the date on that blog post you linked to: Friday, May 06, 2005

  227. Jtw says:

    Hey Guys/Gals,

    I’ve been reading this blog for close to a month. I am looking at townhouses in Southern NJ. They run betweem 225k and 250k for a 3bd 1.5bth. They have around 3k taxes. They have dropped from around 275k at peak (2005).

    When working with the numbers, I figured that the PITI would be around 1.8k to 2k. To rent the same house, would run you around 1.5k. I was wondering, do you think it would be a good time to buy, since the PITI less tax-savings would be around the same or even less than the rental cost.

  228. jerseygirl says:


    Thanks, i think i will take a drive by tomorrow after church. Why do you ask if i robbed a bank…is it a nice area im not familiar with that part of Berkeley Heights now your making me real curious.

    Let me know your thoughts


  229. AFE says:

    How do you all feel about watchung boro? Specifically how is the commute (what is the commute) to the city and how are the schools?



  230. Frank says:

    Subprime are much harder to get but at least they’re made to real borrowers. ALT-A is the scary product. These are the don’t ask, don’t tell mortgages used for investment properties. These mortgages are starting to see a lot more delinquencies. CDO’s are the real disasters waiting to happen. Inexperienced portfolio managers have loaded up on BBB subprime tranches, got the blessing of S&P or Moodys and sold them to hedge funds. These guys have never seen bad times in their lives (since they’re only in their 20s). The market for such products has exploded in the last 2 year and was responsible for explosion of subprime mortgages. Without CDO’s you could not get a 1M subprime mortgage with 540 FICO and no-doc. Get ready for a bumpy ride.

  231. gary says:


    It was nice meeting you in person but we didn’t get a chance to talk in depth, I really wanted to get your take on some things. Nonetheless, it was a pleasure. Perhaps at the next gathering we’ll get to talk in length.

    There was one question I wanted to ask you and didn’t get a chance. We were involved in a bidding war on a house back in late 2000 and I asked the agent what the highest bid was so we can decide if we wanted to go higher and the agent said, “just keep bidding and I’ll let you know if you’re in the running.”

    Is that the way multiple bids are handled? It just seemed to me to be a low-down and shoddy way of handling a negotiation. Is there any way to find out the highest bid on a multiple offer? We just felt insulted and walked away from it. Even if we easily outbid the other offers, I just didn’t care for the treatment.

    What’s the best way to handle this if it ever occurs again? I just have a feeling it may happen again as we’ve got our sites on a so-called “very desirable” town simply because it’s convenient to school and our jobs. Anyone can chime in if they have a suggestion on multiple bid situations. Thanks.

  232. UnRealtor says:

    AntiTrump, via Zillow:

    18 Meadowbrook Rd
    06/21/2004: $755,000

    318 Taylor Rd S
    12/06/2004: $865,000

    Looks like a couple of idiots overpaid for these crap-boxes, and as their ARMs adjust upward, they’re having to eat the loss.

    Typical “camp out” flippers, who buy anything, stay there for 2 years, hoping to cash out on “appreciation” and then buy the house they really want with the profits. Looks like the gamble didn’t pay off.

  233. UnRealtor says:

    AntiTrump, via Zillow:

    18 Meadowbrook Rd
    06/21/2004: $755,000

    Looks like a couple of idiots overpaid for these crap-boxes, and as their ARMs adjust upward, they’re having to eat the loss.

    Typical “camp out” flippers, who buy anything, stay there for 2 years, hoping to cash out on “appreciation” and then buy the house they really want with the profits. Looks like the gamble didn’t pay off.

  234. UnRealtor says:

    And also:

    318 Taylor Rd S
    12/06/2004: $865,000

    [JB the 2-link max rule is such a hassle.]

  235. Kid Twist says:

    Thought this was intresting
    Collision course on trade policy
    By Robert Kuttner | February 17, 2007

    GET READY FOR a four-way train wreck on trade policy. The engineers: The Bush administration, the Democratic leadership in Congress, the Democratic back-benchers, and the government of China.

    The Bush administration dearly wants a renewal of the president’s authority to negotiate more trade deals. The House and Senate Democratic leadership sees an opportunity to win a long-sought Democratic goal — the addition of labor standards to trade deals.

    On Wednesday, at a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee, chairman Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat, warmly welcomed US Trade Ambassador Susan Schwab . “I am very pleased with your leadership,” he said. Rangel is pleased because the White House has agreed in principle to a deal bartering negotiating authority for labor standards.

    But many other Democrats in Congress are not pleased. They see echoes of past trade deals such as NAFTA, whose language on labor rights turned out to be meaningless in practice.

    There is widespread skepticism that the Bush administration would agree to language guaranteeing, for instance, the right of workers in countries with favorable trade deals to join or organize unions. (The administration doesn’t even enforce that right for American workers.) The issue threatens to divide the Democratic leadership from most newly elected members.

    And that’s just the beginning of the trade wars. This week, the Commerce Department reported the trade balance for 2006 — a record deficit of $764 billion. Nearly one-third of that was with China.

    The same Democrats willing to make a deal on negotiating authority are not backing down on China. Rangel and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have proposed a measure to increase tariffs on countries that subsidize their exports, the prime offender being Beijing.

    The US China Economic and Security Review Commission has documented extensive subsidies by the Chinese government, which offers American manufacturers billions of dollars to underwrite costs of land, facilities, worker training, and tax holidays. Most products of these factories go right back to the United States and widen China’s trade surplus.

    While explicit export subsidies are illegal under the World Trade Organization, there is a loophole for implicit ones such as those that China uses to attract US multinationals. Rangel and Pelosi intend to remedy that by changing US law, and their legislation setting retaliatory tariffs is expected to attract substantial Republican as well as Democratic support.

    As a challenge to Beijing, this legislation comes at a moment when Chinese officials are beginning to talk about diversifying their huge portfolio of foreign currencies, the fruits of their chronic trade surpluses. With $1.07 trillion worth of foreign currencies, China has surpassed Japan as the world’s largest holder of foreign exchange. And China’s immense stash of dollars happens to be a prime source of funding America’s national debt.

    As Congress increases the pressure on the Chinese to reform trading practices, there is anxiety in Washington about China resorting to its financial neutron bomb, the threat to diversify its currency holdings out of US dollars.

    In January, Premier Wen Jiabao said that China would “strengthen the management of its foreign exchange reserves and actively explore the channels and methods of using the reserves.” That comment had currency traders wondering whether China would soon begin dumping dollars.

    Even a serious hint in that direction would cause the dollar to tumble in foreign exchange markets, where it has been none too strong lately. And a swooning dollar would require higher interest rates and economic slowdown, at home.

    Diplomacy has not been this administration’s strong suit, nor has nimble negotiation with Democrats in Congress. The White House could strike a deal over labor standards, only to find the congressional leadership needing to placate its restive rank and file with tougher measures on China. And if the dollar should take a dive on Bush’s watch, along with the economy , the result would be more Bush’s recession than the Democrats ‘.

    The coming showdown over China–and perhaps with China — lacks the drama of the Iraq disaster, but could be every bit as serious. And like Iraq, it is hard to imagine an easy solution.

    China needs foreign industry to provide jobs for its growing population. The Bush administration needs China to fund its huge deficits. American business thinks it needs cheap labor and foreign subsidy. And the Democrats need to reform a co-dependency that is bad for American jobs and is ultimately unsustainable financially. But, as with Iraq, getting out of this mess turns out to be a lot harder than getting in.

    Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect and a senior fellow at Demos. His column appears regularly in the Globe.

  236. Steve says:

    Abamitphd: understood, but it was really the attached spreadsheet in the first post I was referencing -e.g. you can download and change the any of assumptions in the first tab (top) as needed …

  237. UnRealtor says:

    What’s a fair way to calculate what a house should rent for?

    Is it based on what a mortgage payment would be if the house was purchased? Combined PITI? A random number?

    I’m seeing crazy rents for houses, so I just want to know if they’re living in a fantasy, or I’m living in a fantasy. :)

    Is there a standard ‘rule of thumb’ for calculating house rent?

  238. njrebear says:

    unrealtor –

    from what i know.
    Yearly rent * 10 = Price of house

  239. KK waits patiently says:


    It was a pleasure meeting you too!

    Thank you for sharing the website with me. And the disclaimer. I am always interested in hearing what investment strategies are working for people.


  240. abamitphd says:


    I understand it is very useful. Thank you for pointing it out.

    But I was just pointing out that this guy was doing the calculation. We’ve had another 15% price appreciation since then.

  241. abamitphd says:


    James. Thanks for posting. I found this last night and it is a great read.

    Given the recent problems in the sub-prime market, everyone is trying to understand if this could affect the prime market. The authors outline a mechanism through which this could happen.

    Some highlights:

    1. since the last cycle, servicers are more likely to renegotiate a problem loan than put it into foreclosure. they amortize the late interest into a new loan, and start all over again. this makes the foreclosure numbers look much worse than they actually are. i am trying to track down some measures of work-outs.

    2. a significant fraction of mortgages originated are securitized, and sold to bankruptcy-remote structures created by investment banks, which in turn sell the credit risk to investors through RMBS (residential mortgage-backed securities).

    2. most mortgages are placed in a structure called a master-trust. these trusts have to sell junior tranches (BBB) before they can sell the senior tranches (AAA), which means investors in the mezz tranches are crucial to the ability of these structures (and of course investment banks) to buy new mortgages.

    3. there is a no-arbitrage relationship between the junior RMBS tranches and the mezz tranche of the ABX. this means if the spreads on ABX tranches stay high, hedge funds could make easy money with a trade against the RMBS mezz tranches. this will push the spreads on the RMBS mezz tranches up, and make the securitization of mortgage credit uneconomical at current mortgage rates.

    4. the biggest investor of these mezz RMBS tranches are something called a CDO. a CDO is like a mutual fund, but it only invests in about 100-125 instruments, and tranches the risk. the authors say that about 40 percent of the securities in CDOs are RMBS, and of this, 70 percent are sub-prime and home equity loans. the authors document that CDOs purchased more RMBS than was actually originated in 2005 (they bought some old stuff).

    5. demand for CDOs is typically driven by the ability of investment banks to find investors for its mezz and equity tranches.

    6. the deterioration in sub-prime will hit the mezz tranches of these CDOs hard. investors in mezz tranches of new CDOs will demand higher spreads to cover the risk, but this makes the CDO uneconomical. you lose a natural investor for both sub-prime and prime RMBS

    7. with the CDO falling apart as an investor in RMBS, investment banks won’t be able to securitize mortgage pools. this means both prime and sub-prime, although the market might be other ways to sell the prime. this means big increases in sub-prime spreads, moderate increases in prime spreads.

  242. njrebear says:

    Having said that, the current ratio is more like 15X to 18X.

    I’m looking at a couple of townhouses renting at 16X ratio. ‘AFE’ on the other day said he/she rented at 18X.

    10X is the hostorical ratio.

  243. bairen says:

    I looked at a few houses this weekend in chatham/madison area. Agents are no longer talking about “appreciation”. Instead the new catch phrase is “maintaining value”. I just smile and wonder if they’ve noticed the 20k drops in value over the last 30 days on zillow for virtually everthing in the area under 600k. A lot of houses’ values have dropped 20% on zillow since the the summer of 06. 1 more drop like that and I will be geting a lot more interested in buying.

    In the meantime I just want to keep saving and looking.

  244. RentL0rd says:

    I got a letter from Citi with new credit cards replacing my old ones. There was apparently some security breach that requires I replace my old cards with new.

    They wouldn’t tell me what kind of security issue it is, except that law enforcement is looking into it. From the sound of it, looks like a whole bunch of accounts have been compromised.

    Has anyone else experienced or heard of this?

  245. njrebear says:

    what is a ‘mezz’ tranche?

  246. bairen says:

    244. Yes. Something similiar happened to a brokerage account I had. a debit card that was reissued to me but never received was used to make a purchase. I complained and got my money back and then closed the account.

  247. AFE says:

    bear (242)

    Just to add, the 18x ratio place is in Middlesex county. What counties are you all looking to rent?


  248. Clotpoll says:

    Jerseygirl (231)-

    Only made the bank robbery reference as that lot + new home should equal a finished package of around 1.3M. Nice area.

  249. njrebear says:


  250. RentL0rd says:

    About this rent to value ratio, are you coming up with this number based on current rental rates in the area – or is there more theory to it?

    I have a rental property (funny, but I also rent) at about 11x -but never considered it that way. I just paid attention to what the bottom line is every month after all expenses.

  251. RentL0rd says:

    bairen #246 – I think its more than just one account that is affected.

  252. UnRealtor says:

    Thanks njrebear.

  253. Clotpoll says:

    Gary (234)-

    Multiple offer situations are tough. Sellers have a wide range of tactics available, as the law stipulates only that the listing agent give all offering parties an equal shot. Of course, this vague legal nod to “fair dealing” also means that the seller side can stomp all over each offeror equally, playing one party against the other and generally wreaking havoc to get to a desired outcome.

    I’ve never encountered an experienced agent who would tell a prospect in these situations what the highest offer was…even AFTER the highest and best offer had secured a contract. Very often, the “winning” party in these melees wakes up the next morning with a serious dose of buyer’s regret and cancels the deal. The last thing a listing agent wants in that situation is another party knowing what the highest offer was. I have, on occasion, been party to bidding wars in which the seller instructed the listing agent to inform all parties of each other party’s offer after every round of counters; this is an extremely effective tactic, and I’ve wondered why more sellers don’t use it.

    I think the only effective general advice I can give buyers in multiple offer situations is the following:

    1) The fact that you are in a multiple offer situation (especially those with 3 or more offers) is because the listing agent and seller have underpriced the house. Understand, going in, that you and the other offerors are now going to correct that mistake.

    2) With #1 as a given, your next task is to determine the true value of the subject property. Do your homework, come up with a number, and write it down somewhere. When it’s 2 AM and you’re foaming at the mouth trying to plan your next move, refer to this number. Whether you’re at, near or above it will give you a clear idea of what to do next.

    3) Understand your own competitive personality before you dive in. All humans have a “fight or flee” response in the face of stress. If you’re a “flee”, you need to talk yourself into hanging in if you want to succeed; if you’re a “fight”, you need to understand that hanging in- at all costs- may win you a house…and wreck your life.

    Other than the above three points, I wish I could offer a sure-fire gambit that wins every time. But, I don’t have one. Write a strong offer, don’t load it with contingencies, understand that you are entering a process that is going to correct someone else’s mistake and think with your head, not your adrenal gland.

  254. Clotpoll says:

    AFE (232)-

    Watchung is a decent commute to NYC; high school is OK, not top-notch. 1-2 exits west puts you in Bernards Twp & Ridge HS is one of the best in the US. A nephew and niece of mine are recent grads, so I have some first-person backup on this. Also, magazines and other school “raters” uniformly put Ridge at the top of their lists.

  255. Clotpoll says:

    BC Bob-

    Still can’t believe the spread was +7. Oh well, good game.

    Too bad your best player spit the bit at the foul line.

  256. still_looking says:

    this is a repeat request: sorry for the repost –

    anyone with access able to get addresses for me?

    2375517 and 2375775

    and whether they’re relisted??

    Thanks in advance, (HELP???)


  257. James Bednar says:

    2375517 – Raritan, NJ
    211 Old Croton Road
    OLP/LP: $580,000
    DOM: 4

    Previously listed as 2043198
    OLP: $525,000
    LP: $480,000
    DOM: 149
    Looks like it fell out of contract.

    2375775 – Readington, NJ
    44 Holland Brook
    OLP/LP: $1,075,000
    DOM: 3

    Previously listed as 2298079
    OLP/LP: $1,195,000
    DOM: 203

  258. still_looking says:

    thanks, jb!!

    finally home from work… what a bad nite…ugh


  259. The Truth says:


    What does “one of the best high schools in the country” mean? One of the best 2? 10? 1000?

    Always amusing to see how people try to associate the “best” with themselves. There are smart kids and then there are not so smart kids. There are good schools and then there are not so good schools…give me a smart, motivated kid and I’ll take that over a top school any time. Same with towns…is Summit the “top town” in New Jersey?

    And if the magazines say its true, it must be!

    When it comes to achievment and potential, I think the individual is far more important than the group that they associate with…

  260. chicagofinance says:

    James Bednar Says:
    February 17th, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    A must-read for the die-hard econogeek.
    How Resilient Are Mortgage Backed Securities to Collateralized Debt Obligation Market Disruptions? (PDF)

    this isn’t econogeek material as much as capital markets primer

    for those intimidated or not inclined to drink enough coffee to push through this material, skip to page 23 figure 10 and page 24 figure 11

    To understand a real risk in the markets (relative to these securities)….look at figure 11. Assume you used the Class A, AAA-tranche as an investment. You thought you were being smart and picking up extra yield by using the Class A tranch in lieu of cash. However, you use cash as YOUR OWN collateral in making investments using margin borrowing.

    Imagine if suddenly the value of the Class A tranche dropped (even slightly) and you were forced to add to your collateral pool. Further be concerned if this event was correlated with a drop in the value of your investment and your broker made a margin call on you.

    Know that there are people out there using Class C (BBB tranche) in lieu of cash also.

  261. chicagofinance says:

    from page 26

    The growing investor acceptance of CDO structures has been supported by
    rating agencies willingness to rate these assets. Unlike other assets that rating
    agencies rate, these assets are subject to considerable market risk, a risk which
    rating agencies do not claim to be able to effectively rate. Recognizing these
    issues, in May of 2005 former Fed Chairman Greenspan warned that “the credit
    risk profile of CDO tranches poses challenges to even the most sophisticated
    market participants” and warned investors “not to rely solely on rating-agency
    assessments of credit risk.”
    Because many buyers of senior CDOs can only hold investment grade assets
    they may continue to hold deteriorating and increasingly illiquid assets as long as
    their ratings have not been downgraded. Because the market is OTC, investors
    may incorrectly value these assets in their portfolio and be forced to recognize
    large mark to market losses in a fast moving, liquidating market. As a case in
    point, Janet Tavakoli points out that the blindness of rating agencies to supersenior tranches can result in 2 different AAA tranches with different attributes.

  262. Frank says:

    The funny thing is, CDO mostly own BBB, AAA and AA are owed by more conservative investors like pension plans. These guys loaded up on subprime BBB in hope of carving out their equity pieces that could yield as much as 40%.
    It was a good plan as long as the good times rolled. Now is show time.

  263. Frank says:

    Last week, inventory in NJ has increased 1%. Fasten your seat belt and get ready for deep Spring discounting.

  264. chicagofinance says:

    abamitphd Says:
    February 17th, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    good summary

    I appreciate the issue you highlighted in your second #2 (bottleneck created by the need to syndicate the mezz pieces). Also the idea that there are hedge fund traders (i.e. actors in the marketplace) out there to muck up the works and potentially strangle this thing.

  265. bairen says:

    #255 Rentlord,

    I forgot to add that I received a letter from the brokerage firm about unusual activity on this account. When i called the firm told me there were other accounts involved and didn’t seem surprosed that I was disputing the withdrawals on the accoun.

  266. njrebear says:


    1] they amortize the late interest into a new loan, and start all over again. this makes the foreclosure numbers look much worse than they actually are.

    Few days back I read that Wells Fargo doesn’t report loans that were started all over again. I’m trying to find the source.

    Thanks for breaking up the report for us. I still don’t understand what a ‘mezz’ tranche is. Googling didn’t help :(

  267. Clotpoll says:

    Thetruth (263)-

    No argument from here. Just answering a question. Right or wrong, many people do rely on “Best of” and “100 Best”-type lists. Students- and parents- are always the biggest x-factor in school success. However, be aware that the number of parents that do in-depth, hands-on schools research is a trace number, at best.

    BTW, I have no skin in the Bernards vs. Watchung thing. I don’t live in either town.

  268. Sapiens says:

    “Thanks for breaking up the report for us. I still don’t understand what a ‘mezz’ tranche is. Googling didn’t help :( ”

    mezzanine is a euphemism for subordinated debt.


    “Mezzanine fund: Used to provide a middle layer of financing in some leveraged buyouts, subordinated to the senior debt layer, but above the equity layer. Mezzanine financing shares characteristics of both debt and equity financing.”


  269. AntiTrump says:

    #239 Kid Twist Says:

    The democratic senate/house is kidding if they think they can mess with China and not pay an economic price. We are neck deep in debt to China,not to mention the trade deficit with them. Sad as it sounds, they have the biggest influence in setting long term interest rates.

    Our only hope is that, we are their biggest buyer and until other parts of the world start to load up on flat screens like we do, they don’t want to shut out their biggest market either.

  270. Clotpoll says:

    Anti (273)-

    China is our co-dependent, not our master. Their enmeshment with us is as pathological as ours is with them.

    What’s about to ensue is going to be like an argument between Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain.

  271. AntiTrump says:

    #247 bairen Says: Agents are no longer talking about “appreciation”. Instead the new catch phrase is “maintaining value”.

    Funny how things change. By next year, I see it move from “maintaining Value” to, “minimal depreciation”.

    I was thinking of NAR’s “Now is the best time to buy” campaign. So are they saying that the last couple of years was NOT the best time to buy? How about next year?? Can’t believe these bunch of morons. From the number of homes going into contract, they have definitely convinced some people.

  272. AntiTrump says:

    #267 Frank:

    1% in a week? And the spring party hasn’t even started yet. This spring is going to see many delusional sellers utterly disappointed.

    I think I will strike next spring. Hee Hee Hee (Evil Laugh)

  273. Clotpoll says:

    Why do we imbue the Chinese with power and acumen that they don’t posess? Must we always have a putative bogeyman or arch-enemy that has to be overcome?

    China is a Commmunist country. It is run by a bunch of Communists that can’t do anything right. They have no education, no rational intellectual basis for any policy, no national vehicle for dialectic discourse to fuel progress…nothing. Their economy- and currency- are rigged fictions, they foul their environment to the point of ecological cataclysm and basic human rights are suppressed at every turn. In short, they are the perfect proof of the concept that not all activity is progress.

    Our own house is a shambles only to the extent that our house is dependent upon theirs. And, their house of cards can be brought down in one fell stroke of the pen, by a governmental edict that nationalizes every means of economic sustenance.

    Because they are Communists.

  274. AFE says:


    Thanks for answering my questions :) Boy folks don’t cut you a break here, do they?! As you said, I too believe academic success is so dependent on the individual but not knowing much about north jersey, and eventually wanting to buy up there, I figure let me get the most for my money (specifically property taxes!!) and do my research first. Will look into Bernards Twp.

  275. AFE says:

    The truth (263)

    I definitely appreciate what you are saying about schools. Do you have any experience(s) in Watchung or other areas up there? I don’t need to be super close to the city, commute maybe 2-3 days a week, rest in N. Jersey. Also, like I said to Clot, it is more about resources. Once resources are available, I will make sure my kids use them to the best of their ability, know what I mean? I grew up in upstate NY, did not necessarily attend a school that was the “best” in the nation, state or anything like that, but we had a lot of good resources to which I credit my current achievements to, that’s all.


  276. abamitphd says:


    thanks chicago. feel free to correct where i am wrong.


    i was part of a working group that was looking into the role of the rating agencies in structured finance. people were concerned that half of their revenues were from structured finance fees.

    do you know janet? i have read her stuff, and she is enjoyable, but not short on strong opinions.

  277. BC Bob says:


    Forget about the spread, I owe. No moral victories on my part. We’ll call it the Trenton bet. There is an exemption/loophole. It’s called, your best player choking at the foul line. I owe.

  278. abamitphd says:

    #270 #272

    what is a mezz tranche?

    Let’s say we have a pool of 1000 mortgages, each with an original amount of $250,000 loans worth $250 million. Strucutred finance is a way of distributing losses to different classes of investors. A simple structure might look like this:

    $200 million Class A Senior Rated AAA
    $40 million Class B Mezzanine Rated BBB
    $10 million Class C Equity Unrated

    The first $20 million of losses from the pool is absorbed by the equity tranche. The next $40 million is absorbed by the mezzanine tranche. And the final $200 million is absorbed by investors in the senior tranche.

    Investors first in line face greater risk, because losses for them are more likely, but are also compenated with high returns.

  279. Frank says:

    Based on Realtor.com, on 01/07/2007 there were 75,225 houses for sale in NJ, today there’s 80,191, that’s 6.6% increase in 1 month. I see 20% off sale in my neighborhood this Spring. :)

  280. BC Bob says:

    Frank [283],

    Get ready for the flood of inventory. It will be overwhelming.

  281. Michelle says:

    Most of the towns I am looking at – the inventory is down from January. Still waiting to see that bump up.

  282. lowball says:

    #276 AntiTrump Says:
    “This spring is going to see many delusional sellers utterly disappointed.”
    Let’s see:
    2.1 mill. homedebtors with an empty shack on the market – and no sucker in sight
    1.9 mill. shacks currently listed in foreclosure
    2.2 mill. ARMed bagholders expected to default
    subprime just fell off a cliff (“like a rock” Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band)

    It’s a good time to be a bagholder this spring, just dig your heels in a little deeeper and look for a pack of rabid buyers to storm the property waving checkbooks and offers.

  283. SG says:

    HSBC offering 6% Yield on Money Market

    (Reuters) – Ratcheting up competition among banks for depositors, HSBC Bank USA plans on Monday to temporarily raise the interest yield on online savings accounts to 6 percent, higher than its competitors.

    The 6 percent annual percentage yield applies to “new money” that existing or new customers deposit into HSBC Direct accounts, and will be available through April 30, according to HSBC Direct’s Web site. Thereafter, the yield will revert to the regular online yield, now 5.05 percent.

    Not sure if Sub-prime issue has anything to do with this.

  284. The ponzi money has gone POOOOOFFFFF! says:

    Lots of Margin calls now and in the near future!

    The economy in general is levered especially on the gov’t and consumer side.

    Can u feel their pain?



  285. The ponzi money has gone POOOOOFFFFF! says:



  286. The ponzi money has gone POOOOOFFFFF! says:

    The Housing ATM printing press has been closed down….


    THE Spring 2007 Massacre is on…..go ahead wait ’til spring 2008 the Depths of misery….



  287. The ponzi money has gone POOOOOFFFFF! says:

    Still a few greedy grubbers grasping for their dream….

    U want your fantasy price then get a second job…hehehehehe

  288. SG says:

    off topic. those who r interested in india investing


  289. what bubble says:


    Can JB or any of you w/ access to GSMLS numbers confirm something for me? I was at a speech w/ the Nutley finance commissioner the other day and he indicated that in recent weeks/months the average time a house for sale in Nutley has been on the market has been 8 days. I find this to be a prespoterous proposition..can anyone confirm?

  290. SG says:

    I think following on our Friday’s meeting success, we should start plan for next one. I was thinking if we could list of topics that readers/participants are interested in, take a vote and see if we can find someone who is expert in that area. Here is probably start list,

    1. Lowballing – Techniques and Tips. I am sure there will be lot of interest. Have heard about things like Teaming up, but not sure how, why etc…

    2. NJ Town selection guide – Pros/Cons of each town. Actually a Decision support system, that considers factors like Schools, Traffic, Public Transport etc… would be so beneficial. May be the Wiki idea JB had can help in creating such selection guide on collaborative basis.

    3. Home Improvement ideas – For guys who want to buy properties with hidden potentials at good price and fix it on their own.

    4. RE Investment options in NJ – Pros/Cons, Timing considerations etc… May be John B, of someone else with investment experience can explain to novices like myself.

    5. Foreclosure – Dos/Don’ts etc…

    Again, I don’t think we should turn these events into dull lectures. We definitely need some fun & drinks :-)

  291. UnRealtor says:

    Kid Twist #239, FYI:

    The American Prospect is a monthly magazine “of liberal ideas, committed to a just society, an enriched democracy, and effective liberal politics”…


  292. rhymingrealtor says:

    what bubble Says,

    From 1/1/2007 on GSMLS only there were 38 homes that sold in Nutley of those 2 sold in 8 days or less. One 8 days One 2 days.
    Spreadsheet says…… average 109 days on market

    Yes, after hanging around this blog, I am well on my way to becoming a spreadsheet geek/dork

  293. gary says:

    Clotpoll: Thank you for the “multiple bid” insight. I know that wasn’t an easy one line answer.

    SG: Fun and drinks indeed! The Grey Goose was going down too easy! WOO HOO!!

  294. syncmaster says:

    Masco to Cut Jobs After Quarterly Loss

    The Masco Corporation, the maker of Behr paint and Delta faucets, posted its first loss in five years and is laying off about 16 percent of its work force as a result of a slump in the housing market.

    The company also forecast that its 2007 profit would be lower than analysts anticipated.

    The fourth-quarter loss was $187 million, or 49 cents a share, compared with net income of $173 million, or 41 cents a share, a year earlier. Masco, based in Taylor, Mich., said further weakness in the housing market might push 2007 earnings to $1.50 a share or less, including unspecified charges for the job cuts.

    Masco will have cut 8,000 jobs by the end of the first quarter, including 1,000 salaried positions, the chief executive, Richard A. Manoogian, said in a conference call. Fewer sales at the Lowe’s Companies and Home Depot and the slowdown in new home construction, which accounts for 40 percent of Masco’s sales, hurt revenue in the fourth quarter.

    Sales in the first quarter will drop more than 10 percent, Mr. Manoogian said. Sales for the year will drop into the “midsingle digits” on a percentage basis, he said.

    Sales in the fourth quarter fell 5.8 percent, to $2.95 billion, the first decline in at least nine years, because of the new home construction slowdown.

  295. homebuyer says:

    Rich or someone else,

    Out of curiosity, you mentioned that in #122:
    “Two identical houses with identical …
    Value is in the eye of the beholder as well as beauty.”

    I know there should not be generalizations but I just wanted to know how much less should a house on a corner of a busy street cost compared to a house on the same street that is a few houses in.

    I understand this comes down to what your willing to live with but my feeling is that most likely unless money is no object everyone makes some sacrifices in buying a home.

    What are the compromises that one may be willing to live with and generally speaking what is the premium/discount one should consider.

    From previous posts I think if you break up a home into the sum of its parts you can look at a home that has been remodeled or upgraded and then take 40-70% of these costs to get some idea of how much something should cost.

    Some things are more arbitrary like being on the right side of town that goes hand in hand with location. Considerations like noisiness around the house, curb appeal of the home and neighborhood, neighboring towns are other factors.

    I would love to hear peoples thought on what is important and in dollar terms how much these things are worth. I would really appreciate comments from those of you who have been following markets in different towns. I am sure there are some lowballers and they have used this tactics in bidding already so I would love to hear how you looked at it.

    Any feedback that we can share would be much appreciated.

  296. homebuyer says:

    oh yeah one other thing i would like to ask.
    you can see that homes in various towns have been tax reassesed.

    I would love to hear feeback on this example
    There is a 500,000 house, 1 year back this house had taxes of 6,000 or 500 month. The house value was reassesed and taxes are now 9,000 or 750 a month on the same house. Using PV of money the $250 for a period of 10 years (I chose this randomly) at 6% is worth approx 22g’s.

    Considering everyone is montly payment sensitive to some extent how much do people value this?
    also should house price drop in value at all since the taxes are now alot higher and that obviously impacts housing affordability.

  297. BC Bob says:

    “Maybe we call it a push?”


    We’ll call it an expired/withdrawn listing.

  298. RentL0rd says:

    jb, did you get my email from yesterday?

    just making sure your spam bots didn’t filter it.

  299. BC Bob says:

    “NYSE undergoes quiet revolution on trading floor. Computers supplant outcry of ‘buy’ and ‘sell'”

    “The number of people on the floor has dropped to about 2,100 from 3,000 in a matter of months.”

    “For decades, they’ve gone to Suspender’s of Wall Street to celebrate big gains and drown their sorrows when the markets plunge. Billy Ahearn, the retired New York City firefighter who owns the bar, said these days it’s not uncommon for his regulars to come in clutching pink slips.”

    “On Christmas Eve, the bar was filled with a few dozen patrons who had lost their jobs on the NYSE floor. Many confided in Ahearn that they never saw the job cuts coming, and would get out of the business altogether.”

    “It’s hurt his business, still recovering from the Sept. 11 attacks. It is tough to complain about business when people’s lives have been affected,” he said. “This directly impacts our pockets. Machines and computers don’t eat and drink.”

    “Traders from major firms from Merrill Lynch & Co. to Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. have removed employees from the floor. The NYSE itself is also cutting about 500 jobs.”


  300. Frank says:

    Real-estate agents are next…..

  301. WickedQuiver says:

    can some one please hook me up with the link to the james post about the condos bought in the late 80’s not breaking even until the late 90’s. I have a raging debate going on… need some ammo.


  302. Frank says:

    I can tell you about houses in Roselle Park that have been bought in late 80s for 200K, you could not sell them for that price until 1999. Know they go for 400K.

  303. BC Bob says:


    I don’t know if this is what you were seeking?? This is a 1991 article. I don’t recall what year was the bottom.

    “Home prices show no immediate signs of rebounding after a free fall that has lasted at least two years.”

    “The sustained slide has been the most severe in the relatively young history of the city’s co-op and condominium marketplace,” said the Corcoran Group, which surveys sales of expensive Manhattan apartments. It reported a 26 percent price decline between the spring of 1989 and the end of last year, and in January, despite increased activity, it reported another 3 percent slip.


  304. Clotpoll says:

    BC (302)-

    We’ll do lunch. BC/Carolina will be the ACC final, so we’re gonna revisit this, guaranteed.

  305. Clotpoll says:

    Frank (305)-

    They’ve been saying that since computers were invented. Later, the internet was supposed to do us in.

    Unf, you can’t invite a computer into your house to help value your new Home Depot kitchen and Mr. Bathroom vinyl tub/shower liners.

  306. Pat says:

    Yeah, and if agents went the way of the dodo, who’d be the whipping boy on these big decisions?

    There’s always gotta be a devil because we won’t face the reality in the mirror.

  307. Clotpoll says:

    Pat (312)-

    Brutal. Just brutal.

  308. WickedQuiver says:

    BC thanks for the response! But there was a JB post about late 80’s north jersey condos that were underwater until the 90’s. That was the post i was looking for.

    I’m on a surfer forum (i’m a surfer) talking real estate with a wamu loan dude who i think is a snake.

    At one point I reference clot’s advise:


  309. WickedQuiver says:


    I’m a syracuse alumni. I hate the “All Cash Conf”. Shame on you for raiding the Big East.


  310. 1987 Buyer says:

    Late 80’s condo? I lived it…bought in 1987 at $132,000…sold in 1999…that is 12 years later!!! for $92,000!!!! Brought $10,000 to the table after 12 years of mortgage payments. Got tired of waitinf. Bought a house in 1993 and rented condo and lost money each month. Should have waited, they sell for $250,000 now!

  311. Clotpoll says:

    Steve (316)-

    Show me a top NJ school district where people HAVEN’T piled in! It’s a load on the town, but there’s a reason for what goes on in those situations.

    Wicked (315)-

    The only thing BC still has in common with Big East teams is that they can’t hit a free throw to save their lives.

    You call it “All Cash Conference”. I call it 9 teams in the tourney.

  312. chicagofinance says:

    SG Says:
    February 18th, 2007 at 12:23 pm
    I think following on our Friday’s meeting success, we should start plan for next one. I was thinking if we could list of topics that readers/participants are interested in, take a vote and see if we can find someone who is expert in that area. Here is probably start list,

    1. Lowballing – Techniques and Tips. I am sure there will be lot of interest. Have heard about things like Teaming up, but not sure how, why etc…

    2. NJ Town selection guide – Pros/Cons of each town. Actually a Decision support system, that considers factors like Schools, Traffic, Public Transport etc… would be so beneficial. May be the Wiki idea JB had can help in creating such selection guide on collaborative basis.

    3. Home Improvement ideas – For guys who want to buy properties with hidden potentials at good price and fix it on their own.

    4. RE Investment options in NJ – Pros/Cons, Timing considerations etc… May be John B, of someone else with investment experience can explain to novices like myself.

    5. Foreclosure – Dos/Don’ts etc…

    ummmmm…….I guess I’m out of my freakin’ element here :(

  313. Clotpoll says:

    Steve (316)-

    I gotta hand it to Syracuse, though. In what other Division 1 program can a lead-footed white guy…who never saw a shot he thought he couldn’t make…and couldn’t defend a parking meter…become a superstar?

    Your hero is now lighting it up nightly for the NBDL’s Bakersfield Jam, playing for none other than “Honest Jim” Harrick. He also walked on a $180,000 contract in Greece to make 1/10th of that in Bakersfield. I guess Gerry missed his Econ 102 classes, too. Get a quick update here:


  314. Clotpoll says:

    Quiver (315)-

    Sorry, Steve (316). My ‘Cuse retort was aimed at Quiver. Trigger finger was twitching too fast to get cracking back on Wicked.

    And, Mr. Wicked, if you attempt any comeback defense of McNamara, I’m backatcha even harder with Preston Shumpert. I think you’ll agree that neither one of us wants to go there. You coulda hooked up an EKG to that guy on the defensive end & it would’ve been a flatline. I think he plays in Lebanon now (how can Lebanon have professional sports?).

    This is your warning.

  315. Clotpoll says:

    ChiFi (319)-

    I suggest that the chosen topic at the next meeting be discussed after three healthy shots of Knob Creek.

  316. Michelle says:

    A question for realtors on the board…. When you send out emails to clients do they always include the original list price of the house in question? I am working with a realtor in NJ who has been sending me emails with this info included for the longest time. Recently I contacted a realtor in PA to send me some Doylestown listings and her emails just have the price in a different color – black for no change, green for a decrease and red for an increase. She told me that if there was a specific house I was interested in she could get me the recent pricing info but usually we were not “privy” to that info. What a total PITA. I understand this agent is a dud, but is it usual to not include OLP? They are both Coldwell agents but the one in PA is using the new “Trend” system so the emails look totally different.
    I don’t suppose anyone here has access to the Bucks county, PA MLS? Thanks.

  317. chicagofinance says:

    Clotpoll Says:
    February 18th, 2007 at 8:02 pm
    ChiFi (319)-
    I suggest that the chosen topic at the next meeting be discussed after three healthy shots of Knob Creek.

    ummm – OK

  318. chicagofinance says:

    Q: did grim pay for any drinks? Because if he did, you guys suck!

  319. chicagofinance says:

    I guess it will happen…

    DaimlerChrysler AG is moving forward with preparations to sell or spin off the Chrysler Group, raising the prospect that it could auction off the embattled U.S. unit in the coming months, two people close to the matter said.

  320. rhymingrealtor says:

    chicagofinance Says:

    ummmmm…….I guess I’m out of my freakin’ element here :(

    Me too, I thought it was supposed to be for fun!


  321. rhymingrealtor says:



    An agent is only going to be able to send whatever format the MLS services allows, GSMLS and NJMLS only allows a customer copy to be sent. Whatever information that is contained within that version will be sent. Email is an easy way to send alot of listings at once. I can elaborate further on any that are of interest to my client.

  322. gary says:


    It was fun!! I had a blast! A few jokes, a few drinks, a few laughs. Next time I’ll jump up on a table and sing!! LA LAAAA!!! :)

  323. Clotpoll says:

    Grim (& all at the Friday nite funfest)-

    Check this link to an interview with Merciless Ray Mercer (onetime heavyweight world champ), who is sponsored by my business partner, Bobby Farrell. Bobby is one of a handful of guys who’ve gotten into the boxing game in the last few years & are trying to help clean it up. Cut to the end of the interview for Mercer’s props to Bobby (BTW, I’ve seen this guy train recently & he does NOT look 45 years old):


  324. Clotpoll says:

    ChiFi (326)-

    You can’t polish a turd.

  325. WickedQuiver says:

    PS: I ran into Matt Doherty a few month after he was fired at chelsea piers.

  326. twice shy says:

    Hey Quiver,
    Love having a stand-up on the board. I’m a sponger, on the beach now till the water gets to 39 degrees. 5/4 wetsuit is as thick as I’ve got.

    The condo 12-year breakeven is gospel. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Anecdotally, I bought a condoshack in 1988 and sold in 2000 at 10K over breakeven. Had to rent the sucker for 10 years as an out-of-state landlord. Not fun.

  327. Clotpoll says:

    Quiv (335)-

    Just giving you the treatment. All in good fun.

    Was Doherty tending bar at Chelsea Piers?

  328. BC Bob says:

    By the way, Cuse was out the door, on its way to the ACC, until the Hokies lobbied the Gov. He ultimately twisted Virgina’s b*lls. Without Virgina’s vote the expansion would not have happened. Result, Hokies in Cuse out. Cuse goes 4-8 in football, 1-6 in Big East play, in 2006.

  329. WickedQuiver says:

    (338) ha ha no, he was in a suit i thought i stumbled upon him in ny interviewing for a new job. if he was I guess he didn’t get it.

    (339) i know the left at the alter story and cuse football troubles all too well.

    VT, Miami, fine. BC… that just left a lot of people bitter.

  330. BC Bob says:


    Believe me, I didn’t/still don’t like it. We caved in for the $. I miss watching my team in the Big East tourney.

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