December existing home sales jump, but still lower than last year

From Bloomberg:

Sales of U.S. Existing Homes Jump More Than Estimated to Seven-Month High

Sales of U.S. previously owned homes jumped more than forecast in December as buyers tried to lock in low mortgage rates before the economic recovery pushed borrowing up further.

Purchases of existing houses, which are tabulated when a contract closes, increased 12 percent to a 5.28 million annual rate, the most since May and exceeding the highest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. The median price dropped 1 percent from a year earlier, and the share of sales represented by foreclosures climbed.

Buyers are returning to the housing market after a government tax credit expired in the middle of 2010, indicating the drop in prices and cheap lending rates are making homes more affordable. At the same time, unemployment in excess of 9 percent and record foreclosures are among concerns that have prompted Federal Reserve policy makers to follow through with a second round of quantitative easing.

“Home sales are improving slowly, but surely,” said Aaron Smith, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “We really need to see job creation pick up to ensure housing continues to recover. Housing clearly is still a weak spot in the economy.”

For all of last year, purchases decreased to 4.91 million, the fewest since 1997.

From Reuters:

Existing home sales surged in December

Home resales jumped more than expected in December despite bad weather as sellers cut prices, offering some hope for a sector that has been struggling to recover from its worst slump in modern history.

MARK VITNER, SENIOR ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO SECURITIES, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: “It is a little surprising we saw such a big increase in existing home sales, but it is quite possible this reflects foreclosed properties and short sales. Banks likely wanted them off their books toward the end of year. There does not seem to be a whole lot of momentum in housing sector and we will not see much improvement until we move past this mountain of foreclosures. High level of sales look good on surface, but these properties are mostly being bought by investors and not true demand.”

PAUL LARSON, EQUITIES STRATEGIST, MORNINGSTAR, CHICAGO: “You have to take the home sales number with a grain of salt. We have a lot of foreclosures moving through the pipeline, and since those don’t play by rules of seasonality they can skew numbers. I don’t want to read too much into it.

From the Philly Inquirer:

Existing-home sales continue to climb

Sales of previously owned homes across the nation rose in December for the fifth time in the last six months, offering a promise to some in the real estate industry of a long-awaited recovery in 2011.

Sales rose 12.3 percent from November, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday, but were 2.9 percent below December 2009.

The median price nationally fell 1 percent, to $168,800, reflecting the continued effects of a record volume of distressed homes, which were 36 percent of the U.S. market in December, up from 32 percent a year earlier.

The end of 2009 was the expected expiration date of the federal tax credit for home buyers, which accounted for a large spike in sales. As it turned out, the tax credit was extended and expanded. After its April 30 expiration, sales of previously owned houses nationwide plunged to levels not seen for almost 40 years.

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83 Responses to December existing home sales jump, but still lower than last year

  1. grim says:

    From the NY Times:

    When Luck Plays a Role in Selling a Home

    WITH the last year such a dismal and confusing period for so many home sellers in New Jersey, some inevitably decided along the way to drop one agent and try another.

    “Some people think the next Realtor will make all the difference, or be the lucky charm, or maybe just provide a fresh start,” said Linda Grotenstein, an agent with Coldwell Banker in Montclair.

    “Of course, in today’s market,” she added, “really the most important thing is price.”

    Or luck, added other brokers based in towns around the northern part of the state. Some say they see themselves as harder-working than others; several suggested that they were particularly talented at attracting as many people as possible to see a house or staging it in its best light. But each of about a dozen questioned about the logistics of the typical home sale says luck plays an indefinable yet crucial part in finding a solid buyer these days.

    Danuta Tyszka, an agent at Weichert Realtors in Wayne, described having listed a four-bedroom two-bath house in Clifton last spring and shown it to 80 prospective buyers, none of whom made an offer. After four months, she advised the sellers to let the listing expire and allow her to relist the house for a lower price — $10,000 less, down from the high $500,000s — to see if “fresh” home shoppers would appear.

    “The first people who came to see it made a full-price offer,” she recalled. “I don’t really know that the price drop made that big of a difference. It was more like lucky timing.”

    Using multiple-listing statistics from 2010, Margaret Miggins, an agent at Keller Williams Realty in Short Hills, found that fewer than 50 percent of listed homes sold within a year. She looked at 16 middle- to high-income communities — in Essex, Union and Morris Counties — in which she markets houses. Comparing the total number of homes listed in each town with the total number of closed sales in 2010, she found that Summit did best, with 48 percent of listings sold. (There were 448 houses listed, and 217 closed sales.)

    Chatham and Madison came within a percentage point or two of Summit.

    In West Orange, a large community in which sales have been slow, only 24 percent of listed houses were sold (1,001 listings, 240 closed sales).

    In Montclair, there are half a dozen high-end homes that have not sold despite multiple price reductions and Realtor switches. One, a Victorian at 183 Grove Street with a third-floor ballroom where Enrico Caruso is reputed to have sung, was marketed by Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty last year with an original asking price of $1.44 million, after selling for $1.4 million in 2007.

    After six month, it was listed by Halstead Properties at $1.3 million; it is now listed as a possible short sale at $999,999.

  2. Mike says:

    Good Morning New Jersey

  3. grim says:

    From Patch:

    FDU Poll: Most in NJ Feel Worse Off Than a Year Ago

    Almost half of New Jersey residents say they’re worse off financially than they were a year ago, according to a new poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business.

    And that’s an improvement over how Garden State residents polled in 2010 felt, FDU reports. When residents were asked the same question then—as to how they felt compared to 2009—54 percent said they were worse off financially.

    A quarter of New Jersey residents polled this year said they’re better off financially than they were a year ago. That figure is up 7 points from 2010.

    While the results show residents feeling their situations are improving across every income bracket, only in the highest bracket do those who say they are better off outweigh those who say they’re worse off, FDU reports. Two in five (40 percent) of those with household incomes greater than $150,000 say they’re better off, while just one in four (26 percent) in that income bracket say they’re worse off.

    In the lowest bracket, those earning under $50,000 a year, 23 percent say they’re better off financially than a year ago, a gain of 8 percentage points over last year. More than half, 55 percent, say they’re worse off, a decline of 7 points from a year ago.

    “It’s the norm that those with the most income emerge from a recession first and most everyone trails them,” Sorin Tuluca, professor of finance at the Silberman College of Business, said.

  4. Mike says:

    Yesterday’s Ledger, Parkway toll collectors are being replaced by a private company and their salary will go from $65,000.00 to $25,000.00. For Grim’s 2011 prediction I only made one prediction and that is outsourcing will pick up speed. So now does the savings get passed on to the drivers at the tolls?

  5. grim says:

    From the Philly Fed:

    Philly factory index slightly weaker in Jan.

    he index of manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region cooled slightly in January, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported Thursday.

    The Philly Fed business condition index fell to 19.3 in January from 20.8 in December, weaker than the steady outcome that economists had anticipated.

    Below the headline, however, the report had some stronger signals.

    “This is a strong level, consistent with an ISM manufacturing index in the mid-50s, and a sign that business activity across the region is expanding briskly as we kick off the first quarter,” said Neil Dutta, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

  6. grim says:

    Mike, like this one from the Record this morning?

    KPMG to cut 100 jobs in Montvale

    KPMG LLP, the tax, audit and consulting services company, plans to eliminate about 100 jobs at its Montvale offices as it outsources those positions to IBM Corp.

    KPMG told employees in its information technology division of the restructuring last week, but they have known of the outsourcing plan for about a year, spokeswoman Marianne Carlton said.

    Any layoffs would not be immediate, as employees have four to six months’ notice to apply for 50 to 60 available jobs at Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM or other positions within the company, Carlton said. Many of those IBM employees will be based at KPMG in Montvale, she added.

    Those who are laid off would receive severance and outplacement services to help them find new jobs.

  7. grim says:

    From the APP:

    School voucher bill passes NJ Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee

    Governor Chris Christie and longtime education reform advocates won a major victory over the state’s largest teachers union on Thursday when a key legislative committee passed the state’s first school voucher program.

    The voucher program is one of several dramatic changes Christie has proposed to remake public education. The New Jersey Education Association is staunchly fighting the bill and had helped to keep it bottled up in committee for the past six months.

    The voucher program “is a step toward our important goal of having a great school in every ZIP code,” Republican minority leader Thomas Kean, one of the bill’s prime sponsors, told the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, which passed the measure on an 8-5 vote.

    “In some parts of this state, some public schools need more than another year and more than a few more dollars,” Kean added. “We cannot ask those children to wait.”

    The vote came a day after Christie addressed a group of private-school advocates before a showing of “Waiting for Superman,” a documentary film that portrays teachers unions as the biggest obstacle to better education in urban areas.

    Broadly, the bill allows companies to donate to scholarship organizations, which would then in turn award scholarships to students from low-income families in schools defined as chronically failing in 13 pre-determined school districts.

    That would then affect 166 schools in districts that include Asbury Park, Camden, Lakewood, Newark and Trenton.

    There would be a limit of 3,900 scholarships in the first year, which would expand to 40,000 by the fifth year. The scholarships are expected to be about $8,000 for each elementary school student and $11,000 for each high school student.

    Businesses would be able to deduct donations directly off their tax bills as a credit.

  8. grim says:

    From Bloomberg:

    Faulty Foreclosure Case in Massachusetts High Court May Hurt Home Buyers

    Massachusetts’ highest court will consider whether a home buyer can rightfully own a property if the bank that sold it to him didn’t have the right to foreclose on the original owner.

    The state’s Supreme Judicial Court, which agreed last month to take the appeal, already ruled Jan. 7 that banks can’t foreclose on a house if they don’t own the mortgage. The lower- court decision now under review said the buyer of residential property in Haverhill, Massachusetts, never really owned it because U.S. Bancorp foreclosed before it got the mortgage.

    “It appears to be the next step in the conversation,” Paul R. Collier III, who represented the borrower in the earlier case, U.S. Bank v. Ibanez, said in a phone interview.

    Like the Ibanez case, the court’s decision may resonate with other states as they grapple with the rights of new homebuyers who may be hesitant to complete a purchase for fear of uncertain title, and with how such a trend may hobble the broader housing market.

  9. Sore feet says:

    Grim – is there info on the December sales that puts home sales into silos such as traditional sales, short sales etc in order to get a better idea as to what the true picture looks like?

  10. Sore feet says:

    Does anyone think that states with significant economic problems will successfully declare bankruptcy or in the end, will the states resolve their economic problems with a federal bailout financed but the public.

    Going forward, will the model be more outsourcing to lower current costs and significantly reduced pensions for new hires with the economic savings being used to keep the pensions in tact for those with the golden pension plans.

  11. Shore Guy says:

    If every level of government would do this, it would be a real start torwards fiscal sanity:

  12. gary says:

    Buyers are returning to the housing market after a government tax credit expired in the middle of 2010, indicating the drop in prices and cheap lending rates are making homes more affordable.

    More affordable: do you mean, like, this piece of sh!t? With $130,000 down, your PITI will be $3750 per month for this severely over-taxed, over-priced double wide. But hey, a realtor told me it’s really competitive in this area.

  13. grim says:

    I’ve had my nose buried in the MLS for the last month and let me tell you, inventory sucks.

    I’ve never seen such a poor showing of overpriced crapshacks in the past 5 years.

    Hell, in 2006 at least there were nice places on the market.

    Probably the worst January inventory I’ve ever seen.

  14. gary says:


    What’s your take on why the inventory sucks so bad and what do you think will happen in the next 3 – 6 months?

  15. grim says:

    Clot, 30 Year, thoughts?

    I almost hate to say it, but I’m seeing buyers paying a premium for any decent house that shows up just because there isn’t anything else to buy.

  16. gary says:

    It’s tough to stay solvent when you’re underwater and hemorrhaging money every month.

    Tick… tick… tick… tick…

  17. leftwing says:

    Re: Inventory


    On one end the financial condition of certain mid-upper end owners isn’t as dire as thought. These people have their homes, maintain them well, and are staying in them. With no incentive to move and a crappy market to sell into, they just stay put. Voluntary holding pattern.

    On the other end of the mid-upper end are owners in financial duress, just hanging on. They can’t sell because even if they are not underwater the hit to the equity is just too big. When combined with haircut to family income they have suffered if they sold there is no way they could replicate their lifestyle, it would be a huge step down in town and/or dwellng. Involuntary holding pattern.

    In between these ends of the barbell is your (lack of good) inventory.

  18. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    I don’t know why anybody would doubt Whitney. All you have to do is look at the past five years. Everytime she comes out and speaks the truth (Citi dividend, housing crash, future of Wall Street, municipal bankruptcies) all the usual windbags come out of the woodwork to shout her down like Bove, Cramer, Liesman etc

    Her firm quoted $30K to access that muni bankruptcy analyst report. Once she’s proven correct they’ll be able to $50K on the next one.

  19. ricky_nu says:

    Leftwing (17) – it is plenty dire in the mid-upper end towns. I recently signed up for Realty-trac (trial), and almost crapped when I saw the amount of places in pre-foreclosure in my town (an upper-haughtyville town for sure). Many of the places are being held by “trustees”, who don’t want to bring the place to market because they know they will get crushed (like someone who paid $2.8mm in 2005, put 300k down, owes $2.5mm, and pukes the place up in short-sale for $1.8mm). Believe me, those stories are out there, just that no one has any interest to tell those strories.

    I used to sit around wondering “how the hell do so many people afford these places at these prices?” – turns out they couldn’t afford them.

  20. joyce says:

    Reducing spending to 2000 levels would be a start. It wouldn’t be a fix because of the ever increasing debt servicing costs as well as the system is just flawed to begin with.

  21. 30 year realtor says:

    Inventory? I agree with Grim. Recently listed an REO in Paramus that was in nice condition. Modern baths, granite tops, nice roof, hardwood floors, brick, circular drive, finished bsmt,yada, yada, yada…on Farview Ave and about 1250 square feet. Requested a list price of $399,900 from bank and they listed at $415,000. An appraiser had given them a value of $440,000.

    There were several ranches in superior locations and inferior condition that were priced lower than $415,000 and had not sold. After 10 days on market it sold for $420,000. Only 2 offers. Did a highest and best. One buyer walked away after his initial offer of $395,000. The purchaser started at $390,000 and jumped to $420.

    House was a solid $390 value. My speculation is that they over paid because of the good condition.

  22. JJ says:

    Whitney is an idiot, she does not work on wall street and attends more wrestling events then finance events.

    And by the way she was half right about Citi, I was 100% right. She thought they were going under, She was right share price was falling and dividend was being cut. But she was wrong on the citi bond side, it was a screaming bargain when it was like 40 cents on a dollar.

    She is 100% wrong on Munis. For instance NYC Water Authority bonds. Strangely NY is 100% liable for expenses not bond holders. Bond holders get paid coupon first. So in this case Water company collect 100 million in water bills, has expenses of Ten billion and interest payments due of 90 million bond holders get 100% of payment. That and it is insured. So bond is backed by physical assets, everyone has to stop showering, drinking or cooking NYC and NYS and the bond insurer has to go bankrupt with no remaining assets that can be sold and all the equipment, property and assets the water company owns has to be worthless for bond holders to lose out. Hello!!!

    However, citifield bonds back by selling Mets tickets is a different stories. She is using a paint brush to paint everything.

    Another example is st Johns university bonds. Backed by three huge campuses that school owns outright, tuition from 30,000 students, a big endowment fund, a basketball team that generates millions, a bond insurer and finally the Catholic Church. They have an extremely small amount of debt outstanding. Now compare that to a Vegas Monorail bond where they don’t even charge to ride the monorail.

    Dissident HEHEHE says:
    January 21, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I don’t know why anybody would doubt Whitney. All you have to do is look at the past five years. Everytime she comes out and speaks the truth (Citi dividend, housing crash, future of Wall Street, municipal bankruptcies) all the usual windbags come out of the woodwork to shout her down like Bove, Cramer, Liesman etc

    Her firm quoted $30K to access that muni bankruptcy analyst report. Once she’s proven correct they’ll be able to $50K on the next one.

  23. Dissident HEHEHE says:


    I agree Citi bonds were a bargain because the government would bail them out. Absent that fact, Citi would have gone under.

  24. JJ says:

    Exactly, for all the kudos she is getting wondering how many BAC, Citi, bondholders sold their bonds at 50 cents on a dollar int he panic. She is causing the same problem in Munis. I bought a 5.65% NYS GO bond this week at par. I saw a NY school bond at par at 6% I almost bought but was gone before I could hit buy.

    6% tax free is 10% taxable which is a very high risk junk bond. I also saw that rate for the Puerto Rico Electric Company. Which is crazy, they are a monoply. Don’t pay bill no electricity.

    Dissident HEHEHE says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:11 am


    I agree Citi bonds were a bargain because the government would bail them out. Absent that fact, Citi would have gone under.

  25. NJGator says:

    Plans being drawn up to let states declare bankruptcy
    Pensioners and investors in state bonds could lose out

  26. chicagofinance says:

    Terrible conversation. Client is a Vietnam vet has non-Hodgkins Lymphoma that is chewing him up alive. VA says Agent Orange exposure…..guy was strong as an ox….WTF???? sux

  27. BlindJust says:


    1 in 100 children are born with Autism. I didn’t know that until 5 years ago when my son was diagnosed. Your insult, whether or not intentional, included a broader audience than Cat.

    chicagofinance says:
    January 20, 2011 at 10:37 am

    #1 proof of autism
    #2 I had multiple other posters corroborate my experience with your Win7-targeted virus tinged site

  28. chicagofinance says:

    I apologize for the offense.

    27.BlindJust says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:56 am
    Chifi, Your insult, whether or not intentional, included a broader audience than Cat.

  29. leftwing says:


    Not disagreeing. Just answering the question on why the lack of better inventory.

    I think there is also another factor depressing inventory from those who are in decent financial shape. A total reversal of the ‘bigger, better, more’ attitude. Previously, owners of a nice house with decent equity (the two usually go hand in hand) may have looked at this down market as an opportunity to trade up, thus creating some good inventory and volume. The zeitgeist is the exact opposite now – the current employment and economic backdrop and a backlash against the prior excesses have people staying in their current nice houses rather than thinking they need ‘more’, further depressing better inventory coming to market.

    Basically, we have returned to what the housing market used to be for those in decent financial shape – buy for your needs, hold the asset long term, and don’t view it as a short term tradeable commodity. Not a bad thing.

    For those not in decent shape they need to bite the bullet, swallow the loss, downsize and move on if they can. If not, they roll the dice and keep hanging on by their fingernails until the STHF and the market clears them out. By that time their once nice abode is a POS.

    This market and the inventory situation is not in ‘paralysis’. That implies a sudden seizing up out of the ordinary that people expect to change. This is the new normal. Nice house, nice town, financially responsible family – why change anything?

    I just sold our home. Don’t want to jinx it so no details yet even although all buyer contingencies have been satisfied. You guys would be like WTF? It is not the mainstream of desirability but was probably the best inventory that was out on the market in the off-season in a $400k spread around the ask. Went at 97% of ask and 107% of late 2004 price. Part of me wishes we waited until this Spring. Anyway, I did use the lack of inventory a little to my advantage. Declined every repair request from the home inspection report, telling the buyer we have no problem breaking contract and re-listing it in six weeks. They didn’t contest so no repairs, no offsets.

  30. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    This spring will see a good deal of painting at Chez Deplume. Place has to look spiffy, just in case.

  31. JJ says:

    Most teachers back in my day labeled you hyperactive, retarded, special ed etc. I personally was labeled more that the back of a mcdonalds menu. I was in the park last summer and some lady was reading a newspaper where her little monkey kid was flying all around and she was not watching. Eventually the kid ran over and tried to bite my 2 year old daughter. Wife says to lady hey your kid is trying to bite my daughter she launches into a ten minute speech about autism and that my child should know better than to try to play near an autistic kid. You don’t know what it is like to be the mom of an autistic kid. Finally, my wife goes look, I really only care that your kid is trying to bit other kids can you tell him to stop biting, she threw her paper out and marched out. OMG drama queen. Now I have signs near my house saying Autistic child neighborhood, I am rushing to train and fly by two or three of the signs. I know deaf child signs, hey it means kid may not hear horn. I have a nephew with autism, my brother-in-law goes some days I wish your sister would let me just use the belt on him to see if it would help. I told him the belt never helped me anyhow. Just made me wait for day I was big enough to grab it and hit back.

    Chicagofinance says:
    January 21, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I apologize for the offense.

    27.BlindJust says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:56 am
    Chifi, Your insult, whether or not intentional, included a broader audience than Cat.

  32. JJ says:

    29 I disagree. lots of people own their own homes outright like I do. Lots of people have good jobs like I do. In fact I just described most of my town. Problem is no one wants to catch a falling knife. I don’t want to buy cause it appears home in neighborhoods I like are falling 1% a month. If I am trading up I am doubling my monthly loss.

  33. broke says:

    How many can update their houses paying cash.Without equity loans,lack of better inventories will get worst as time goes by.Get ready basically paying for the land and have no money to update the house.Either you the seller or the buyer will not be able to update that shack.The trend will be making sure everything is in working condition.$30,000 kitchen update, $20,000 bathroom updates will be a thing of the past.

  34. joyce says:

    How many times does someone have to tell you that like 0.001% of people work on wall street or the like… that’s not many.

    Also, for some alleged finance guru, you don’t seem to realize that real estate is a very leveraged asset class (especially in the 2000’s). All it takes is a very small percentage of defaults to impact everything.

  35. joyce says:

    The government completely disregarded a century+ of bankruptcy law during the auto bailouts. Even if you fared well from then until now, why do you think the government will uphold its contractual bond agreements in a muni-default? The government never follows its own rules; they change them as they see fit whenever there is a real or engineered crisis. But since its your money this time, you think they are going to play fair? HA good luck

  36. JJ says:

    I love the same people who will tell me it is too risky to buy a five year muni bonds buy a one million dollar home with 50K down.

    I am usually more shocked by how much people make than how little they make. Plenty of people like me are waiting for clear signs of a bottom and perhaps a bit of a turn around before buying. With stocks rising and interest rolling in liquidating for most people would be a loss of 2-3k a month.

    joyce says:
    January 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    How many times does someone have to tell you that like 0.001% of people work on wall street or the like… that’s not many.

    Also, for some alleged finance guru, you don’t seem to realize that real estate is a very leveraged asset class (especially in the 2000′s). All it takes is a very small percentage of defaults to impact everything.

  37. joyce says:

    “Plenty of people like me …”

    I know plenty of people who are smart. Using that scientific polling method, I will conclude that the majority of Americans are intelligent.

  38. BlindJust says:

    37. Joyce
    My son asked me this morning if I was smart.

    My answer was, “Well, I’m not as dumb as I used to be.”

  39. ricky_nu says:

    JJ (31) – agreed – I am long real estate, paid for as well – but way under-weighted. Not sure when or if I care to upgrade.

  40. Nicholas says:

    I don’t know why anybody would doubt Whitney.

    If you believe what you are typing then it is clear that you have a very serious flaw in your thinking process. I don’t care if Stephen Hawkings said it or if Jesus himself came down and spoke to me personally, I’m going to question and verify as best I can. I’m pretty sure thats what got us into this mess in the first place, we took the word of the ratings agencies as if they were gospel. Why? Because they were right so many times before, how could they be wrong.

    Howsing always goes up until it doesn’t. Merideth Whitney is right until she is wrong. Don’t get any illusions that she is infallable.

    Do your homework.

  41. Nicholas says:

    lol, Howsing, should be housing. Phonetics for the loss.

    My answer was, “Well, I’m not as dumb as I used to be.”

    The correct answer is “I’m not as dumb as I used to are”.

  42. Juice Box says:

    JJ – Bill Gross did not rule out Muni Bond defaults. He is just predicting less than Whitney. Even Jamie Dimon recently said he expects to see more U.S. municipalities declare bankruptcy. There were a handful in 2010 and Diamon said more than a handful this year with the States facing 140 Billion in deficits. Look what Governor Christie did last week when he roiled the markets with talk of Bankruptcy and his own shorting of NJ new issuance of tax-exempt school bonds.

    Right now Whitney is on the high side of the expectations with 50 to 100 defaults and she is charging what $30k for the report. Well the Mutual Funds who trade in and out of Munis are going to pay her for her report whether it is right or not. The retail investor however won’t pony up the fee.

    I am thinking since the Fed cannot legally intervene in the Muni markets and a deadlock in Congress that is now actually talking about real budget cuts there could be lots of defaults.

  43. dan says:

    I hope Curtis is spotting some good future bike trail routes down there. I mean, once those are created, there’ll be no need for him and his cap.

  44. BlindJust says:

    Thanks for the grammar lesson, Nick, but our responses are equivalent.

  45. Nicholas says:

    Just letting you guys know.

    I recieved a letter in the mail regarding refinancing my VA loan. Apparently, I get to skip January and February payments, need no money down, no income verification, and no appraisal. Apparently this a federal program that is only available to VA loans and is expiring soon so they are going to have people standing by on Saturday AND Sunday to take my call at any time.

    Wasn’t there someone complaining about the poor loan quality because of FHA/VA financing requirements being too lienient. The housing tax credit effectively made all FHA/VA loans 0% down? Think we are going to see a backlash about loans originated in 2008-20010 because of this?

  46. Sore feet says:

    Are real estate agents considered independent contractors? Can they file for unemployment?

  47. JJ says:

    General Motors
    Re-In-Car-Nation: What Will
    GM Do With All Its Cash?
    On our forecasts, GM will generate in excess of
    $12bn of free cash flow per year over each of the
    next 5 years. We expect GM to improve its already
    impressive net cash position from $18bn at the end of
    2010 to $71bn by 2015. If our calculations of GM free
    cash flow are correct by even an order of magnitude, it
    begs the question of how the company will deploy its
    cash resources. We can think of 4 main ways:
    1. ACQUIRE more captive financial services
    capabilities. We are convinced GM will want
    to aggressively rebuild a full scale retail and
    wholesale captive auto lending business –
    critical to achieving the company’s full volume
    potential. We estimate adding a $50bn retail
    and wholesale finance portfolio could add more
    than 200k units of volume and $0.70 to EPS.
    2. RING-FENCE legacy liabilities. GM wants to
    get out of the fund management business so it
    can direct 100% of its attention to designing,
    building and selling vehicles. A $10bn US
    pension contribution is worth $0.35 to EPS.
    3. ELIMINATE all outstanding gross debt. GM
    has $5.7bn of gross debt and $6.9bn of Series
    A perpetual preferred. Paying down both
    completely would add $0.37 to EPS.
    4. HOARD excess cash for downside
    protection. We would not encourage
    substantial cash return until the GM’s product
    portfolio and the machinery of captive financing
    are firmly in place. This could take years.
    We forecast GM to generate 100% of its market cap
    in cash over the next 5 years. We struggle to find any
    other stock in our universe with such cash generating
    qualities. The confluence of cyclical recovery in N.
    America (where GM derives 2/3 of its cash flow) and
    secular growth in emerging markets (the rest of its cash
    flow) drives our GM cash flow forecast and $50 target.

    on top of this GM does not have to pay income taxes until 2018!!

  48. JJ says:

    Muni defaults are a different animal, remember Orange County the biggest Muni default of all. Guess what no bond holder lost money, they paid all interest and principal. It was a default because they did not make an interest payment on time.

    Juice Box says:
    January 21, 2011 at 1:31

  49. BlindJust says:

    Was just sent this bargain. Will be interesting to see what this eventually sells for…

  50. Just spent a few while with a developer having an issue consuming marketdata. I go through all the standard stuff (he’s connecting to my servers just fine, no errors anywhere, blah blah blah). He finally gives up trouble shooting and gives me access to his machine so I can poke around.
    I vi the release notes for the app he’s using; they were written in `98, and proudly proclaim they’re Y2K patched! Nice.

  51. J. says:

    Broke #32: That’s the conclusion I’ve come to. Bought in 1996, had the 3-year update plan and the 5-year update plan. 14 years later, siding, windows, roof, 2 water heaters, 1 furnace, full electrical upgrade, basement remodel — all cash, no equity loans. Baths are still old, kitchen is still old. Refacing cabinets, considering vinyl plank for flooring, and instead of new bath, put in a new vanity, floor, and tub liner — and the heck with it. The days of Jenn-Aire and trying to turn a cape into a McMansion are over.

  52. Anon E. Moose says:

    Re [51];

    TINY. No listed SF (if they bring themselves to say it, its that bad), and abuse of the fish-eye lens.

  53. grim (15)-

    Not here. The dozen or so legit buyers just sit on their hands.

    There is no RE market here anymore. It’s broken beyond repair. All that’s left is a low-level marketing scheme and some shit-for-brains agents who think driving around and answering their office phones for free constitutes a career.

    20-40 years in the wilderness. No one will be spared.

  54. he (18)-

    Whitney doesn’t command 30K for a piece of research work because she has a track record of being wrong.

    Also, unlike Bove, she is not a job-hopping crook.

  55. jj (22)-

    Only thing Whitney got wrong on Citi was assuming that the gubmint is not an illegal racket, completely owned by banksters.

  56. Juice Box says:

    Bill Black still at it, this time his is calling out Obama.

  57. joyce says:

    Maybe they want to refinance your loan because they no longer have your note and want to “replace” it with a real one.

  58. JJ says:

    Muni bonds bottomed out on Tuesday and are recovering. If you don’t buy today you missed the bottom.

    That will be 30K please

  59. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    Saw an ad on Fox Biz network. Some ranch in New Mexico selling parcels. Subtle message was that U should have the security of land ownership (in someplace safely remote).

    Obviously, I am not the only one pitching Nompounds.

    FWIW, I thought the price of $1K per acre for land in New Mexico was a tad high, regardless of how pastoral it looked on TV.

  60. Shore Guy says:


    If it lacks its own longterm source of water, any price is too high.

  61. Confused In NJ says:

    Interesting weather this weekend, they are predicting -25 degrees in north west Sussex County. Worst I ever saw it was -38 degrees in Watertown NY 1965, when my car tires froze to the ground along with the transmission fluid. Took 1/2 hour for the engine to defrost the tranny, and then thunk, thunk, thunk, with the flat spots on the tires, till they heated up.

  62. China short-term liquidity beginning to seize up. I predict this will be a big topic on this board pretty soon:

    “When two weeks ago we first pointed out the surging Chinese weekly SHIBOR (following up on comparable observations from last summer) it prompted a variety of bemused responses, the bulk of which were of the now traditional “this is irrelevant” variety. Too bad. Today, the 7 day SHIBOR (and repo rate) has just surged to new multi-year highs and has literally exploded from 2.5% to 7.3% in a few short days. Two weeks ago we said: “In a nutshell: there is no marginal liquidity left in the world’s fastest growing economy. Eventually this will dawn on the world. Until then, BTFD.” Looking at the SHCOMP’s performance over the past two weeks, this has in fact dawned on the world. And when the headline scanning algos running our own stock markets realize that the world’s biggest marginal economy has absolutely no short-term liquidity left, the aftermath will be very ugly.”

  63. nj escapee says:

    -25 degrees, all I can say is brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  64. serenity now says:

    Minus 25 degrees!! A cold day in Hell.

  65. Libtard says:

    Was once in St. Paul when the high was -20. It’s a long story and I must head out to my physical therapy session (is it really necessary after I shoveled my driveway for the umpteenth time this winter). Maybe I’ll share with you my interesting experience later tonight. If I can still type after those mad therapists try to kill me again.

  66. Confused In NJ says:

    69.Libtard says:
    January 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm
    Was once in St. Paul when the high was -20. It’s a long story and I must head out to my physical therapy session (is it really necessary after I shoveled my driveway for the umpteenth time this winter). Maybe I’ll share with you my interesting experience later tonight. If I can still type after those mad therapists try to kill me again.

    Mrs Confused goes to PT three times a week at Kessler for her left sholder. Been a bummer keeping appointments with the snow & ice.

  67. Can anyone recommend a therapist that will put a bullet in my head?

  68. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    JJ doesn’t like Whitney because she’s too totally smoking hot. He just likes his women smoking hot not totally smoking hot.

  69. Libtard says:

    Back from the masochists.

    Well that freezing morning in Minnesota, I had to catch a flight back to Newark. The plane was on the tarmac in MSP overnight. As I step on the Embraer, I notice that all of the other passengers are still wearing their gloves and hats. Apparently, the water lines in the plane are frozen so there’s no heat until we are airborne. Also, no coffee for the same reason. The flight attendant of course has the heat cranked to no avail. So we take off and all of sudden the plane is like a sauna and the flight attendant can’t get to the thermostat since the pilot won’t give her the signal to unbuckle herself due to heavy turbulence. Next we find out the lavatory is out of service also due to the frozen lines. Needless to say, it was the second worst flight ever. The worst flight involved sitting directly behind a woman with IBS. I think I shared that story a while back.

  70. Juice Box says:

    Worst flight I was ever on I was returning from the Caribbean. I noticed I was surrounded by a bunch of plump ladies 4 or 5 rows of them and I am sitting in the middle. Turns out they were returning from visiting a sighting of the Virgin Mary or something. One of them breaks out a guitar and then they proceed to start singing Kumba my Lord and all of the other gospel classics like Amazing Grace,Rock Of Ages, What A Friend We Have In Jesus etc. This went on for several hours, and all I could do was bury my face in my book. Sometimes mental anguish on a flight is worse then physical pain caused by cramped seats and this was one of those times.

  71. NJGator says:

    Olbermann out at MSNBC. Tonight was his last broadcast. Happy Friday, folks.

  72. Yikes says:

    House Whine says:
    January 20, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Delaware- in my neighborhood there had been a migration to Pa. Now, it seems that the younger retirees ( late 50′s, early 60′s) are moving to Delaware. They are close enough to still visit NJ but they claim it is much cheaper to live there. They were all fortunate enough to sell their homes here first. Whether they are happy living in Delaware, I do not know. And the homes they sold here in NJ were in an upper middle class town, but no McMansions.

    PA makes sense. Taxes on our house in NJ would have been double, perhaps more. Why, to fund those stupid pensions? Not to mention the sticker price would have added 250k ish.

  73. Punch My Ticket says:


    Good. Now if Faux would get rid of some of their dumb f**ks …

  74. Use the V for Victory flyers we have provided to let Big Sis know that we are not her slaves

  75. Andrew Pelt says:

    Use the V for Victory flyers we have provided to let Big Sis know that we are not her slaves

  76. Wildie says:

    Doesn’t seem like they’d have any trouble getting on to a highway for their commute.

  77. Wilford says:

    Perfect post, I am browsing back more often to watch out for fresh news.

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