The other real estate market

From CNN/Money:

Who’s buying homes? The rich

The rich are different from you and me: They’re buying real estate.

After four straight years of declines, sales of million-dollar homes and condos rose last year in all 20 major metro areas, according to DataQuick Information Systems. On average, these cities saw an 18.6% jump in high-end home sales.

San Jose, Calif., had the biggest market for million-dollar homes, with a 27.4% spike in sales last year; Phoenix saw the smallest increase at just 0.4%.

Meanwhile, sales outside of this price point actually fell 2.8%.

“It hasn’t been a good six months for all people, but it was a good six months for rich people,” said Glenn Kelman, CEO of Seattle-based real estate brokerage Redfin. “When Wall Street goes up, rich people buy homes.”

“Higher income households are feeling better about their financial security,” said Greg McBride, chief economist for

As their confidence soared, the wealthy took advantage of bargains in expensive homes. An average seaside manor on Jupiter Island, Fla., that might have sold for $4 million in 2006 cost less than $3 million last year. The Brentwood bungalow in L.A. was $1.5 million instead of $2 million, and that Scarsdale colonial fell to $1.1 million after gong for $1.5 million four years ago.

Getting a mortgage for these expensive homes was cheaper as well.

In New York, where volume grew nearly 25%, high-priced home sales were driven by bonuses on Wall Street. Even though bonuses were slightly smaller last year, they still topped $120,000. And that’s just the average; many employees brought home significantly more.

The real estate industry may take some solace from the mini boom in high-end sales, but it does not necessarily mean good times are ahead for the rest of the market. In fact, the rest of the market is facing a potential 25% drop in prices and stalling sales.

“There are not a lot of million-dollar home buyers even in the best of times,” said Bishop. “It’s always nice to see any segment come back, but it’s the middle of the market we would like to see set the pace.”

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157 Responses to The other real estate market

  1. Essex says:

    WASHINGTON — From state legislatures to Congress to tea party rallies, a vocal backlash is rising against what are perceived as too-generous retirement benefits for state and local government workers. However, that widespread perception doesn’t match reality.

    A close look at state and local pension plans across the nation, and a comparison of them to those in the private sector, reveals a more complicated story. However, the short answer is that there’s simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances that their critics claim.

    Pension contributions from state and local employers aren’t blowing up budgets. They amount to just 2.9 percent of state spending, on average, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College puts the figure a bit higher at 3.8 percent.

    Though there’s no direct comparison, state and local pension contributions approximate the burden shouldered by private companies. The nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that retirement funding for private employers amounts to about 3.5 percent of employee compensation.

    Nor are state and local government pension funds broke. They’re underfunded, in large measure because — like the investments held in 401(k) plans by American private-sector employees — they sunk along with the entire stock market during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. And like 401(k) plans, the investments made by public-sector pension plans are increasingly on firmer footing as the rising tide on Wall Street lifts all boats.

    Boston College researchers project that if the assets in state and local pension plans were frozen tomorrow and there was no more growth in investment returns, there’d still be enough money in most state plans to pay benefits for years to come.

    “On average, with the assets on hand today, plans are able to pay annual benefits at their current level for another 13 years. This assumes, pessimistically, that plans make no future pension contributions and there is no growth in assets,” said Jean-Pierre Aubry, a researcher specializing in state and local pensions for the nonpartisan Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

    In 2006, when the economy was humming before the financial crisis began, the value of assets in state and local pension funds covered promised benefits for a period of just over 19 years.

    At the bottom of Aubry’s list is Kentucky, which would have enough assets to cover 4.7 years. Other states do much better: North Carolina local government pensions are funded to cover 19 years of promised benefits; Florida’s state plan could cover 17 years; and California’s plans about 15 years.

    “On the whole, the pension system isn’t bankrupting every state in the country,” Aubry said.

    States having the biggest problems with pension obligations tend to be struggling with overall fiscal woes — New Jersey and Illinois in particular. Many states are now wrestling with underfunding because they didn’t contribute enough during boom years.

    Most state and local employees government across the nation have defined-benefit plans that promise employees either a percentage of their final salary during retirement or some fixed amount. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 91 percent of full-time state and local government workers have access to defined-benefit plans.

    Several states_ including Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Colorado and Washington_ have adopted competing defined-contribution plans, or a hybrid plan that provides government employees both a partial defined benefit in retirement and a supplementary defined-contribution plan.

    Defined-contribution 401(k) plans divert on a tax-deferred basis a portion of pay, generally partially matched by the employer, into an account that invests in stocks and bonds. In 1980, 84 percent of workers at medium and large companies in the U.S. had a defined-benefit plan like those still predominate in the public sector. By last year, just 30 percent of workers in these larger companies were covered under such plans.

    Defenders of the public pension system say anti-government, anti-union elected officials and interest groups have exaggerated the problem to score political points, and that as the economy heals, public pension plans will gain value and prove critics wrong.

    “There’s a window that’s closing as market conditions improve and interest rates rise, the funding of these plans is going to look better than depicted by some,” insisted Keith Brainard, the director of research for the National Association of State Retirement Administrators in Georgetown, Texas.

    Critics of public sector pensions paint the problem with a broad brush.

    “Unionized government workers have tremendous leverage to negotiate their own wages and benefits. They funnel tens of millions of dollars to elect candidates who will sit across from them at the negotiating table,” said Thomas Donohue, the chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a Feb. 24 blog post. “This self-dealing has resulted in ever-increasing wage and benefit packages for unionized government workers that often far outstrip those for comparable private-sector workers.”

    In a Feb. 23 radio interview, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., called federal stimulus efforts to rescue the economy “essentially a federal bailout of public employee unions.” Nunes described money owed to state pensioners as a crisis “about ready to happen.”

    Except that two out of every three public-sector workers aren’t union members.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January that 31.1 percent of state public-sector workers were unionized in 2010, compared with 26.8 percent of federal government employees. The highest percentage of unionization, 43.3 percent, was found in local government, where police officers and firefighters work. Teachers can fall into either state systems or local government.

    Ironically, in Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker is trying to weaken public-sector unions and reduce pension benefits, he’s exempted police and firefighters, who are among the most unionized public employees. And Wisconsin’s public-sector pension plan still has enough assets today to cover more than 18 years of benefits.

    The most recent Public Fund Survey by the National Association of State Retirement Administrators showed that, on average, state and local pensions were 78.9 percent funded, with about $688 billion in unfunded promises to pensioners. Critics suggest that the real number is at least $1 trillion or higher, using less-optimistic market assumptions.

    The unfunded liabilities would be a problem if all state and local retirees went into retirement at once, but they won’t. Nor will state governments go out of business and hand underfunded pension plans over to a federal regulator, as happens in the private sector. State and local governments are ongoing enterprises.

    The flow of employees into retirement matches up with population trends in states, with Northeastern states with declining populations, particularly Rhode Island, seeing more stress on their pension systems than Southern and Western states, where there’s been vibrant population growth.

    Another misperception tied to the pension debate is that while the private sector has shed jobs during the economic crisis, state and local government employment has grown — and pensions along with it.

    Since September 2008_ when state and local government employees numbered 19,385,000 and the economic crisis turned severe — the governments’ payrolls shrunk by 407,000, to 18,978,000 this January, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

    When calculating from December 2007_ the month that the National Bureau of Economic Research determined was the start of the Great Recession_ state and local government employment has fallen by 703,000 jobs amid a downturn that cost the nation more than 8 million jobs overall.

    “The down economy has had an effect, and the loss of employment outside the public sector has created a contrast” said Brainard, of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.

    Also fueling backlash is the perception that state and local workers don’t contribute to their own retirement funds the way private sector workers do.

    Four states have non-contribution public pension plans_ Florida, Utah, Oregon and Connecticut. Missouri until recently had a non-contribution policy for state workers, as did Michigan until 1997. Michigan workers hired before 1997 still don’t pay toward their pensions, and some teachers in Arkansas don’t have to contribute toward theirs. Tennessee doesn’t require contributions from most workers and employees in the state higher education system.

    Those notable exceptions aside, most states require employee contributions. The midpoint for these contributions for all states and the District of Columbia is 5 percent of pay, according to academic and state-level research. That contribution rate climbs to 8 percent for the handful of states whose workers or teachers are prohibited from paying into the federal Social Security program.

    By comparison, private-sector workers shoulder a bit more of the burden.

    In its data for 2010, Fidelity Investments, the largest administrator of private-sector 401(k) retirement plans, showed employee contribution rates in its plans averaged 8.2 percent of pre-tax pay.

    Separately, the Employee Benefits Research Institution estimates that most private-sector employers match up to 50 percent of employee contributions up to the first 6 percent of salary.

    The utility or burden of either type of retirement plan depends on whether the plan is measured by what it delivers to an individual, or by how much it delivers to all workers receiving retirement benefits from their employer.

    “It really comes down to what you are attempting to do,” said Dallas Salisbury, the president of the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute.

    Viewed through the lens of an employee, defined-benefit plans are more cost-effective at providing a pre-determined level of benefits to an employee. But the shortcoming of these plans is that they reward seniority. For workers with a shorter tenure, they’re far less generous in retirement.

    This fairness issue is one reason why 401(k) plans have grown steadily in prominence since the mid-1980s. From the payroll perspective of an employer, these defined-contribution plans produce at least some retirement income for the greatest number of employees, and the plans can move with employees who change jobs.

  2. grim says:

    From Inman News:

    Bank regulators push for principal write-downs

    State attorneys general and federal banking regulators are reportedly closing ranks in their efforts to reach a settlement with mortgage lenders over alleged shortcomings in procedures employed by loan servicers in foreclosing on borrowers and considering them for loan modifications.

    The nation’s biggest mortgage services received a proposal from state attorneys general and federal regulators last week that outlines formulas they would be required to use when considering borrowers for loan modifications, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous sources.

    If accepted by lenders, the formulas would force them to offer more borrowers principal write-downs, the Journal said, which are considered to be more effective in preventing foreclosure than lowering a borrower’s interest rate or extending the loan term.

    Anonymous sources told the Washington Post that government negotiators have set a goal of reaching a settlement that prevents 1.5 million new foreclosures.

    Banks have objected to mandatory principal write-downs because they could encourage borrowers to default on their mortgage in the hopes of having some of their debt forgiven — an unintended consequence sometimes referred to as “moral hazard.”

    The 27-page proposal — which did not address the issue of a potential financial penalty — was put forward by state attorneys general, the Journal said, who indicated they had the backing of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  3. flyover says:

    Government pensions are about the only pensions left. Under-funded means that the government must increase payments to make up the loss. The implicit idea that the stock market will fix the problem seems absurd.

  4. grim says:

    From Newsday:

    ‘Gatsby’ place joins doomed mansions list

    The once-grand white house watches over Long Island Sound from the tip of Sands Point, its days numbered.

    Lands End, the 25-room Colonial Revival mansion that local lore says was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s inspiration for Daisy Buchanan’s home in “The Great Gatsby” faces demolition this month.

    In the 1920s and ’30s, Winston Churchill, the Marx Brothers and Ethel Barrymore attended parties there. Fitzgerald was perched on the back deck, drinking in the view. Rooms featured marble, parquet and wide wood-planked floors, Palladian windows and hand-painted wallpaper.

    Now, the front door is off its hinges, wood floors have been torn up for salvage, windows are missing and the two-story Doric columns are unsteady.

    Sands Point Village in January approved plans to raze the house and divide the site into lots for five custom homes starting at $10 million each.

    Lands End is the latest Gold Coast estate to fall. With each demolition, the North Shore loses more of its gilded past, when sea breezes and social events attracted the rich and famous. Historians say hundreds of the mansions have been lost in the past 50 years as owners faced increasing taxes and high maintenance costs.

    “The cost to renovate these things is just so overwhelming that people aren’t interested in it,” said Clifford Fetner, president of Jaco Builders in Hauppauge and Lands End project construction manager. “The value of the property is the land.”

  5. Essex says:

    Just heard from a second ex-pat in Asia in as many weeks. Economies are booming over there. Life is good. Seems that all he hears from the US is depressing. Though my life is great as both work, we bought a place we can afford, and the school we attend is fine. I think the majority of Americans seem miserable. That’s my insight of the day.

  6. grim says:

    #3 – There is another option…

    From Reuters:

    Moody’s downgrade tips Greece closer to brink

    Moody’s slashed Greece’s credit rating by three notches on Monday, raising the specter that the distressed euro zone sovereign may be forced to restructure its debt, perhaps even before 2013.

  7. Essex says:

    6. I doubt a restructuring would affect the defined benefits. Those terms are in the state constitution. Iron clad for those with at least 5 years on the job.

  8. grim says:

    From the Star Ledger:

    L’Oreal, Clark’s last major factory, to leave town

    After the end of the Second World War, Clark Township was transformed by the arrival of the Garden State Parkway and subsequent industrial development.

    RCA, L’Oréal, General Motors, Tyco Submarine Systems and U.S. Gypsum all built factories that provided jobs for Clark residents.

    This week, the township learned it will lose the last of those major manufacturing plants when L’Oréal announced plans to close its hair color plant and move the jobs to Mexico in early 2013.

    Despite the plant closing, L’Oréal isn’t leaving town. The company’s research operation is moving nearby in town and plans to expand.

    But the news that the factory jobs were being moved to Mexico still stung.

    “It was out of the blue,” said Local 262 officer Daniel Righetti, who represents about 215 out of the 300 workers and once worked at the plant himself. “They gave all the employees a letter at the end of the year saying they have double-digit profits, ‘Thanks for your hard work,’ and a couple months later, ‘Thanks for all your hard work, we’re moving to Mexico.’”

    Righetti said the reasons L’Oréal gave for moving—that the plant is landlocked, and the company needs more capacity—don’t make sense.

    “It’s been landlocked since 1955 (when the plant was founded), it hasn’t been a problem,” Righetti said. “Stop coming up with these—tell us the real reason! The real reason is, it’s money. It always is.”

  9. Essex says:

    8. They should have offered to match the Mexican salaries. Right? Right?

  10. Essex says:

    Could have provided the cardboard boxes to live outside of the factory doors.

  11. Essex says:

    cardboard boxes with web access.

  12. Bearsfan (54 & 56, yesterday)-

    The impact of the bad market is being felt on the brokerage level. Some brokerages have a better financial (i.e., more cash) position in order to ride out the storm, but individual brokers like me and giant companies like Realogy are feeling it. The amazing thing is that the worse it gets, the more my industry continues to self-destruct by cheerleading for our enemies (banksters) and begging for handouts.

    As to the idea of going around, dropping lowballs and trying to get lucky? It’s a waste of time, as you cannot force people to do what they don’t want to do. Unless the property is distressed and priced to go (in which case you still need to know exactly how to pull it off), the path you suggest is 100% guaranteed to end in nothing but wasted gas, time and money.

  13. morpheus says:

    absolute sh*t in inventory. Saw 5 houses this weekend. All crap shacks except two. The one we like has a furnace that is older than I am and the foundation leaks like a sieve. It looked like a tiny stream in the basement!

    Yet, for this fixer upper/estate sale, we might make an offer. I assume foundation repair can run $10K and a good oil fired/hot water furnace could run me $8K.

    Did I also mention that a similar house sold for $40K less in December. These asking prices are out of wack! BTW feng shui is horrible on the house. This alone may make us not make an offer.

    Are my estimates for the furnance and foundation repair on target? help!

  14. Neanderthal Economist says:

    “defined benefits are in the state constitution. Iron clad for those with at least 5 years on the job”
    Are you crossing fingers as you say this?

  15. Essex says:

    14. Not really. It’s not really going to amount to much. But it is a fact.

  16. Confused In NJ says:

    1. would make a great Farce on Broadway.

  17. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    “Nor are state and local government pension funds broke. They’re underfunded, in large measure because — like the investments held in 401(k) plans by American private-sector employees — they sunk along with the entire stock market during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. And like 401(k) plans, the investments made by public-sector pension plans are increasingly on firmer footing as the rising tide on Wall Street lifts all boats.”

    This article is a complete crock, and the above paragraph is an example. The problem with public pensions is they are making pension payments on the presumption of growth in the general funds that are completely out of whack with reality. Why TF do you think these pension funds started investing into all kinds of exotic derivative investments in the years prior to the financial meltdown? To get yield to cover the ridiculous assumptions that the general funds were going to grow 12-15% each year.

    I get a real chuckle over his statement regarding only 1 out of 3 public employees are unionized. That may be true on a national basis but why not go into the details of the state of the pension funds in the areas where its more like 3 out of 4 are unionized – like NJ or ILL.

    The guy who wrote that tripe is a hack. Undoubtedly he had each paragraph reviewed so as to paint these leeches as being stand up people. And when I say leeches, I don’t even mean the union members, I mean the union leaders and their political supplicants.

  18. Essex says:

    I doubt too many mid career public employees are counting on their pensions to cover much. They won’t take these away, but once hyper inflation kicks in they’ll just cover the cost of tuna. Unless these folks ditch the US for some sweet 3rd world spot where folks make a dollar a day. Then they’ll live like kings while the rest of you scramble for grocery bagger jobs at the local shop rite.

  19. yo'me says:

    “there’s simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances that their critics claim.”

    Residence are leaving the state and the one’s that remains are complaining of high taxes.How much more evidence do the union need?It’s either kill the beast now and start getting up from where we stand or kick the can and let this burden grow some more.

  20. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    These are the people we are dealing with:

    In Praise of Extreme Public Union Lunacy in San Jose

    Hardly a week goes by in which I do not see examples of extreme public union idiocy. Nonetheless, it is rare to see an entirely new concept prop up. Here’s a new one.

    Pete Constant, a San Jose Councilman wants to answer his own phone. However, union rules dictate that he have a $70,000 assistant he does not even want. What’s even more ridiculous is the union has sent this matter to the courts to resolve.

    Of course stuff like this probably doesn’t happen everyday, but the mere fact that it happens at all tells you there’s a problem in the state’s where these unions have gained way too much sway – CA, IL, NJ,NY.

  21. yo'me says:

    Let the State go BK and reorganize their debt.Just like the private sector.

  22. gary says:

    The word “pension” is a dead. RIP. Merriam and Webster will be removing it from their references as it is an extinct term. Get over it. Fund your own retirement and savings or f*cking die. Period. I’m leaving now for an interview in Manhattan – you all better be good or you’ll be punished when I get back.

  23. Essex says:

    22. Thanks Gary. Keep on beating that dead horse that they call lucrative technology consulting too. That shit is so 1998.

  24. Essex says:

    “Residents” are leaving the state because it is a shithole. Period.

  25. yo'me says:

    Thanks for the correction

  26. safe as houses says:

    #24 Essex,

    I thought residents were leaving because word got out you are planning on leaving too.

  27. flyover says:

    re #18
    Why do people think that there will be a local shop rite in an era of $20/gal gas?

  28. Shore Guy says:

    State constitutions may specifiy this or that but they are also easier to change than the US Constitution.

  29. Kettle1^2 says:

    Essex 7

    Those terms are in the state constitution

    if you are referring to the US states, then consider that the # of people not receiving those pensions far outnumbers those receiving them. It wouldn’t be inconceivable for the larger public to vote for a state constitutional amendment cutting the pensions/removing their guarantee. I wouldn’t happen quite yet, but it wouldn’t take much more economic pain to get that ball rolling.

  30. Lone Ranger says:

    “Keep on beating that dead horse”


    Compared to your horse which had a feature role in Godfather 1.

  31. Kettle1^2 says:


    Principles won’t mean squat when the real economic pain starts hitting the majority. So far we have experience only mild discomfort compared to what is coming. When that pain shows up in full force the public will be like a badger with its paw in an iron bear trap. They will lash-out at anything they believe has a hope of reducing their suffering, or anything that they can easily target as a scapegoat (regardless of whether said target is deserving or not).

    if you would like a preview go to youtube and search “argentina economic collapse”

  32. d2b says:

    We had a new boiler put in. It’s a summer/winter hook-up, providing hot water. It was $4,500. The water problem might be able to be fixed with landscaping. If not they can waterproof the basement and that will be 8k to 10k. You could always get an estimate for that because the water issue is one that you see and should be on the seller to correct. I’m about to have a drain installed outside to take water away from the house. That’s about $1,2000.

    My suggestion is to print out a picture of a Caribbean beach and tell your wife that this is the only beach that she will ever see outside on NJ if you buy a house. Houses keep you broke. After ten years, I’ve replaced the boiler, washer, dryer, and all of the kitchen appliances (even the dishwasher twice). Since it’s ten years old, the place needs to be painted again and the two bathrooms that we updated 10 years ago, look it.

  33. BearsFan says:

    Thanks Debt.

  34. Noctural Species says:

    Since last August, when he summoned more than 100,000 followers to the Washington mall for the “Restoring Honor” rally, Mr. Beck has lost over a third of his audience on Fox — a greater percentage drop than other hosts at Fox. True, he fell from the great heights of the health care debate in January 2010, but there has been worrisome erosion — more than one million viewers — especially in the younger demographic.

  35. grim says:

    Foundation repairs can be very costly. 10 grand does not get very far when heavy machinery and engineering are involved.

  36. NJ Toast says:

    Avg teacher pay in WI is $56000 an they contribute 5% of their pay toward a pension. Not sure what they get once they retire but I am thinking north of $30k. Not too hard to do the math on this.

    In NJ, I heard they adjusted the presumed rate of return on pension $$ from 8% to 7.5%. I am not a finance person but is this even possible or would it require some exotic high risk investments that pension funds should not be making?

    Back in the garden state this weekend – took a drive through an affluent area and was blown away by the # of tear downs. I estimate the smallest home I saw going up was 7000 sq ft. Was told that none of these are spec so someone must have some $$.

  37. Kettle1^2 says:

    NJ toast,

    I believe that the long term average is closer to 5% return rates unless you play in high risk vehicles.

    -not a finance guy

  38. Kettle1^2 says:

    of course if they assume 5% the pensions are bust over night.

  39. Kettle1^2 says:

    I wonder if mobile alabama map has ever tried the Camden bike trails?

  40. Al Mossberg says:



    They really need to bulldoze most of the inventory and sell the scrap metal to China.

  41. Morpheus says:

    OK…thanks everyone.

    Anyone recommend a guy who does foundation repairs in Morris County who can give a free estimate and does good work?

    Hopefully, the feng shui issue does not kill the house. letting wife decide that one. She has to make a few calls.

  42. Al Mossberg says:



    I agree. I dont think most Americans realize that things arent going back to normal. Gas and food are going up and they will stay up. If this crap holds together for 2 more years I will be amazed.

  43. Al Mossberg says:

    Looks like the dollar tested the 76 support this AM. What a hot bag of garbage.

  44. Al Mossberg says:

    SVL.V 2.01 +0.11 +5.79% SILVERCREST MINES INC.

    GPL 4.83 +0.28 +6.15% Great Panther Silver Limited Or

    HLLXF.PK 0.5620 +0.0591 +11.75% HELLIX VENTURES INC

    PXZRF.PK 14.60 +1.00 +7.34% Pretium Resources

    Not a bad way to start a Monday.

  45. Anon E. Moose says:

    Debt said [6, 7, prev thread]

    Go fcuk yourself.

    I will not befriend thug ambulance chasers who shill for banks.

    Suit your self, but I can’t make my case against the RE sales industry any better than you did, and it bears repeating:

    The RE industry is led by a cabal of idiots who are a cross-section of our industry at large. Instead of pressuring gubmint and banks to mark-to-market, acknowledge losses and accelerate both foreclosure and REO liquidation, we cheerlead the commission of financial crimes and beg for 8K tax breaks to people who were going to buy a house anyway. In the end, our gross stupidity will be the implement of our own destruction.

    And I really do applaud you for changing lines of work, think you are — as anyone would be — better off for it.

    “I wish to congratulate you on your new business, and I know you’ll do very well; and good luck to you — as best as your interests don’t conflict with my interests. Thank you.”

  46. ricky_nu says:

    nice JJ…..

  47. Morpheus says:

    #46: “thug ambulance chasers who shill for banks.”

    As an ambulance chaser, I take offense at this. Even I have some ethics. Anyone can chase an ambulance, catching them is the problem! However, if they are in deep snow, I have a fighting chance.

  48. sas3 says:

    Anyone knows a good place for buying composite decking material? About 450 sq ft.

  49. A.West says:

    Foundation repair sounds like a black hole. Sellers will be trolling for a buyer who overlooks it and whose inspector misses it. Especially so early in the year, they’ll be hoping for a dry spell later. If the owner hasn’t repaired foundation problems, just imagine what else hasn’t been fixed properly. Just walk away and don’t look back, unless this is otherwise a perfect dream home. The right buyer for this house is somebody who is an expert on foundations, and knows what they’re getting into. But the seller is looking for someone other than that.

  50. Kettle1^2 says:


    In the line with JJ’s previous recommendation @ 47, you might want to try the following supplier for composite decking material

  51. Kettle1^2 says:

    Over the weekend i had 2 different couples trying to convince me that it is a great time to buy a home due to super low rates and historically low prices!!!! Both then immediately proceeded to tell me how their homes are now worth less then what they paid ( both bought in the last 2 – 3 years).

    Welcome to wonderland!

  52. sas3 says:

    Ket #52, thanks, but I already have big enough bre@sts :)

    Lucky that I didn’t say something like “looking to expand my deck” with a killer typo.

  53. moose (46)-

    Take your sanctimonius attitude and your turgid utterances here, roll them into the shape of a long, dense plunger handle, sit on it, and rotate.

  54. Al Mossberg says:

    Looks like the JP Morgan and HSBC silver manipulation is going mainstream. NY Times last week and the Guardian this week.

    “This is the accusation levelled at the two global banking giants by investors in the US – with another lawsuit being filed last week.

    On Tuesday, US law firm Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer filed a class action complaint on behalf of an individual investor, Eric Nalven.

    The suit named JP Morgan and HSBC in connection with an alleged conspiracy and manipulation of the market for silver futures and options contracts traded on the Comex exchange in New York.

    The complaint alleges that around June 2008, when JP Morgan acquired Bear Stearns and its short positions in silver futures, JP Morgan and HSBC started a conspiracy to manipulate the market for silver futures and options contracts for their own benefit.

    An informant, who is an ex-employee of Goldman Sachs in London, blew the whistle on the activity, claiming he had been told first-hand by traders at JP Morgan that the bank was manipulating the silver market. ”

  55. Evidently, Moose is too thick in the skull to understand there are RE people all over the US (like me and 30 year) who ply an honest trade and are being sold down the river by the practices of our dissembling “trade organization”.

  56. Confused In NJ says:

    NEW YORK – The crisis in Libya is again pushing oil higher as the New York Mercantile Exchange opens for trading.

    Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery gained 83 cents Monday at $106.25 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price almost hit $107 per barrel earlier in electronic trading, the highest since Sept. 26, 2008

  57. Anon E. Moose says:

    Debt [57];

    there are RE people all over the US (like me and 30 year) who ply an honest trade and are being sold down the river by the practices of our dissembling “trade organization”.

    There may be honest practicioners, but that doesn’t make it an honest trade. However, my point from the beginning was that the industry is corrupt, not each and every one of its members. The industry is dominated by miserable, self-interested lying individuals who are in positions to cause financial harm on others that far outweighs any value added to the transactions they faciliate. Individuals who, as a matter of course, lie simply because there is no consequence for for doing so, nor any reward for integrity. My description is of the industry, and the characterization is well earned – but I never said it was too a man.

    On the other hand, you (presuming I am a lawyer) apply the worst descriptions of the profession to each and every one of us. Even so, an honorable lawyer should be able to constructively acknowledge the weaknesses of those in his profession.

    Not to mention you have made explict and graphic threats against my life, hollow though they may be. By contrast, I beleive two weeks ago was the first time the I was reduced to a direct and personal insult against you, however richly you deserve it. Even so, I have self-censored.

    No matter, you can act however you like.

  58. Shore Guy says:

    If there is an assassination attempt on any notable member of the Saudi royal family, I bet wr see a $50+ spike in oil prices

  59. Shore Guy says:


  60. Al Mossberg says:



    The day of rage is 3/11 and it looks to me like the Shiites mean business.

    They are already marching.

  61. Juice Box says:

    shore – It really is different down there. The Jersey Shore waterfront REO I looked at last a few weeks ago was just reduced another 80k to 620k. Land is assessed more at 750k and house at 750k, Taxes are a mere 27k. house needs to be knocked down or at least 200k-300k renovate.

  62. Juice Box says:

    Re: 62 – They will be massacred. Saudis are armed to the teeth with some of our best equipment.

    what happens after? less oil of course if Iran and Iraq are any indication. Interesting read.

  63. Al Mossberg says:



    No doubt they would be slaughtered but Iran has warned the Saudis about any slaugher. It wouldnt take much to set an oil field on fire.

  64. Essex says:

    57. Guess you are about as well loved as the average public employee these days. (sarcasm off)

  65. joyce says:

    To me it’s not a matter of how useful or uselss, or even how efficient or inefficient public agencies are… it’s a matter of freedom.

  66. Kettle1^2 says:

    Al, Juice,

    Don’t forget about Bahrain! They are still rumbling.

  67. Essex says:

    Face it Joyce money=freedom here.

  68. DL says:

    $20/gal gas. Bring it on. It will save the environment, reduce consumption, reinvent the automobile industry, revitalive our cities as people will have to walk everywhere, and increase socialibility as we will have to live on top of each other. St. Patrick’s Day in ten days, as if I needed another reason to drink.

  69. DL says:

    Debt, ref 57. I know how you feel. I amassed dollars for 37 years and they won’t be worth the puke on my shoes after Bernake is finished. Hard to believe one man can wipe out my entire life’s work in 24 months but he did and no one cares.

  70. joyce says:

    I understand … but what does that have to do with the topic of public employees/agencies

  71. Essex says:

    I’m sorry what were you saying?

  72. Kettle1^2 says:


    $20/gal gas means buy-buy US economy. people wont be able to afford to drive to work. If their entire paycheck is used up buying gasoline and groceries then the consumer markets disintegrates in short order.

    If you want to save the environment reduce the human population by several billion

  73. Kettle1^2 says:


    I hope you sold your government motors stock!

  74. joyce says:

    I was trying to say that the government, and by extension public unions et al, forces (because that’s the only thing “the govt” has- a monopoly on legalized violence) individuals through direct and indirect taxation to support and pay for things that they do not necessarily want or use. Everyone can come up with examples of fraud/abuse/inefficiencies in private/public sections- but I think it’s an issue of freedom.

  75. Essex says:

    Joyce…sorry my poptarts are ready. I gotta run.

  76. Al Mossberg says:



    lmao. JJ invested a lot of thought into gubmint motors. Dont worry. JJ will go over to Detroit and build the cars himself.

  77. DL says:

    Ket1/2: You’re right; $20/gal gas is a buy US signal as long as you’re buying with any currency except US $. When the run on the $ hits it will be faster than greased feces in a male call-boy.

  78. Al Mossberg says:

    This is like 1999 all over again. I can just sit home and make an easy 8-10% by a few keystrokes. Of course the more federal reserve notes I make the more I itch for real money.

  79. joyce says:

    good one

  80. Confused In NJ says:

    $20 a gallon for gas sounds about right. It fits in well with the 12/20/2012 forecast.

  81. nj escapee says:

    be careful what u wish 4.

  82. Al Mossberg says:

    I suggest we start bulldozing the following and convert them to suburban homesteads.

    1. All POS capes
    2. All circa 76 bilevels.

    As for me I researched how the Lenni Lenape Indians lived and the early settlers. Looks like cranberries, fish, and poultry. Send the boats from NY down to Manasquan inlet to pick up your dinner. Dont try to pay with funny money either.

    In the meantime Ill start working on my roadside vegetable stand.

  83. moose (59)-

    The board here thanks you for that. You are an intellectual gnat and self-serving flack of stupendous proportions.

    BTW, if you’re not an attorney, what is it- exactly- that you do? Or, will the simple act of admitting to us what it is you do burn up the thin shred of creidbility you still have here?

    “Even so, I have self-censored.”

  84. yo'me says:

    What are the chances the gubmint subsidizing gas by eliminating taxes applied to it?That’s 30% cut on the price right there.That’s a long shot!

  85. make money says:

    I wondfer ho ware they going to spin this oil story to blame Bush for it. After all, the chosen one inherited $35 oil and the stimulus clearly worked to prop up commodities.

  86. yo'me says:

    E10 mix on gasoline makes the car use more gas.Anybody notice this?High price of gas and less milage per gallon is not a good combination.

  87. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [13] morph,

    Burner, yes, foundation, no.

  88. Kettle1^2 says:


    Alcohol has a lower energy content then gasoline, so yes it drops gas mileage. E-10 isnt great for car engines in the long run unless they were designed for it. E-15 (15% alcohol) or higher and you will damage regular gasoline engines in short order. The alcohol can dissolve some of the seals in the engine and changes the combustion characteristics.

  89. Morpheus says:

    Nom: sorry. . . .so very tired. So my price is off on the foundation but spot on regarding the burner?

  90. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [87] make

    Everything is Bush’s fault according to the left. I recall some idiots actually blamed Bush for Katrina. Not the resulting fiasco afterward (which he never should have taken ownership of), but the actual hurricane. They said global warming caused the hurricane, and global warming was Bush’s fault, ergo. . . .

    I have to find these people and sell them things I don’t actually own. Just like MSNBC does.

  91. gary says:

    Interesting. It seems like the Annointed One isn’t as front and center as he was in the first half of his administration. I guess the complexity of world events can humble one who received his 15 minutes of fame as a community squawker. I suppose he realizes that it’s a big boy world out there and that the experiment is officially over.

  92. Kettle1^2 says:

    make 87

    Why exactly is our fearless Nobel PEACE prize winner staging for an excursion into Libya? What exactly is Kadaffi doing now that he hasnt done for the last decade+?

    We need another distraction. Plus the bankers need a new profit margin.

  93. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [91] morph,

    Yes. A foundation will become a sinkhole (no pun intended). Imagine having to replace it, and that is about how much work may be involved. At a minimum, the entire perimeter has to be excavated and the foundation waterproofed. If it is damaged, the damage has to be fixed. And then dewatering measures, such as french drains, dry wells, sump pumps, etc, will need to be installed.

    Personally, I’d find the highest estimate I can and wave it under the wife’s nose. Acts like smelling salts.

  94. gary says:


    Dick Cheney is causing the increase in oil prices. Just thought you’d want to know. :o

  95. gary says:

    Is Chris Matthews getting a chill up his leg over the antics of Charlie Sheen? I mean… the Chosen One is so old news now I figure he needs to get off on something… or someone else.

  96. DL says:

    The wars are merely a sideshow/distraction from the main event. We just spent more in the month of Feb than all of 2007. Anybody seen their road fixed last month? Where is all the money going? To buy our own T-bills?

  97. Outofstater says:

    Ya know how a herd of gazelles will be peacefully noshing on a little grass, alert, but serene? Then one lifts its head, senses danger and the entire herd starts running in the same direction? That sense of danger not yet identified is getting stronger by the day. It seems awfully quiet out there too and that’s creeping me out. Or maybe I should just go get some meds. Help out big pharma a little.

  98. @ owner of this blog:

    I sent you a message to the address linked to your paypal account. Please get back to me either way.


  99. House Whine says:

    Did anybody catch the first segment on 60 minutes last night? The focus was on families, specifically children, who were homeless or living in temporary housing, due to foreclosures. They highlighted neighborhoods near Orlando. Just when I was half-convinced that the pundits were right that the recession is over, I listen to sad children talk of going to bed hungry.

  100. hoodafa says:

    Gary – how did the interview go this morning?

  101. Al Mossberg says:



    You nailed it. I love all this banter about how QE 2 will stop in June. Absolute horse crap. QE 3 wont be televised.

  102. Al Mossberg says:



    Went to get a slice of pizza for lunch. The Italian shop owner started bantering to me about the exchange rate of the Euro/US dollar. Looks like even J6P senses danger.

  103. Shore Guy says:

    How many bombs does a man have to drop

    Before they call it a war

    And how man times must the dollar drop

    Beforeth fed says no more

  104. JJ says:

    The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.
    Shore Guy says:
    March 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    How many bombs does a man have to drop

    Before they call it a war

    And how man times must the dollar drop

    Beforeth fed says no more

  105. JJ says:

    How can you go hungry in Orlando? The half eaten Turkey legs in Disney world dumpsters could feed a nation.

  106. JJ says:

    The US is doing fine, in fact just today the folks at the NYSE told me Die USA machen gut.

  107. #108 – HA!

    You sure it wasn’t ‘Die USA! Machine Gun!!’

  108. Essex says:

    101. that was depressing.

  109. House Whine says:

    Yes, it was depressing. And nobody seems to be offering any good answers. I felt a bit guilty about my full tummy and my full fridge.

  110. Barbara says:

    Re: Foundation repairs….
    Neighbor of ours, with a very handsome historic house, three stories with a full basement…had their foundation repaired. Cost: 100k. Took nearly two years to complete because the first contractor got overwhelmed, couldn’t clear coin and bailed. I am no expert, and I’m not really sure what the issue were with this house (looked ok from the outside, no tilting on the inside). I would get an engineer in there first.

  111. Essex says:

    Unfortunately, life can be very tough once you fall out of the lordship’s manor.

  112. chicagofinance says:

    we have a clot sighting……

    “It is a big day of gladness at the Sober Valley Lodge because now I can take all of their bazillions, never have to look at whatshiscock again and I never have to put on those silly shirts for as long as this warlock exists in the terrestrial dimension.”

    “This contaminated little maggot can’t handle my power . . . Clearly I have defeated this earthworm with my words.”

  113. chicagofinance says:

    we have a clot sighting……..

    “They continue to be in breach, like so many whales,” he said. “It is a big day of gladness at the Sober Valley Lodge because now I can take all of their bazillions, never have to look at whatshisc-ck again and I never have to put on those silly shirts for as long as this warlock exists in the terrestrial dimension.”

    “This contaminated little maggot can’t handle my power . . . Clearly I have defeated this earthworm with my words.”

  114. whine (101)-

    I see this stuff every day. Pretty much everywhere in the US features tons of people in the same dire straits as those people in Orlando. I can show you five SRO motels in Somerset Co. that have been stuffed to the gills for over three years.

  115. Neanderthal Economist says:

    That 60 min piece was rediculous. How can we broadcast that and still claim recession is over? Declining labor participation rate suggests recession is just getting started.

  116. chicagofinance says:

    Oh how I miss his calm steady hand on the rudder of our lives…..

  117. House Whine says:

    115- Well then, we have a very long way to go to recovery. Especially considering that Somerset County is one of the wealthiest areas, supposedly, in the country. According to the 60 Minutes segment, this is highest recorded percentage of children living in poverty since the Depression. Where is Obama on this subject? Or Michelle Obama? Did I miss something??

  118. gary says:

    Where is Obama on this subject? Or Michelle Obama? Did I miss something??

    This administration is slowly backing up and fading away.

  119. whine (118)-

    You want to know how bad it is? Check the food stamp participation numbers. It is actually past the percentages of equivalent programs during the ’30s.

    Hungry don’t lie.

  120. Bureau of Lies and CNBC can’t fudge those food stamp numbers, either.

  121. gary (119)-

    Amazing what a dance the minstrel has to do now that he must start raising campaign loot from his bankster massas, while still pretending to be a streetwise, hip collectivist.

  122. Tilt.
    Game over.

    “The last time Charles Biderman appeared on CNBC, he was carted onstage (and promptly off) in the late hours before Christmas Eve, when it was virtually assured nobody would hear the self-evident truths out of his mouth such as this one: “individuals have been selling, companies are net selling; insider selling and new offerings are swamping any buyback and any cash M&A activity since QE 2 was announced. Pension funds and hedge funds don’t really have that much cash to invest. So what nobody’s asking is what happens when QE 2 stops: if the only buyer is the Fed, and the Fed stops buying, I don’t know what is going to happen…When I was on your show a year ago I was saying the same thing: we can’t figure out who is doing the buying; it has to be the government, and people said I was nuts. Now the government is admitting it is rigging the market.” Now that the great muni scare forced retail to take proceeds from muni liquidations and invest in stocks just as the market topped out, CNBC brought Biderman on again, hoping to get something, anything, bullish out of the flow of funds expert. Wrong. “In December of 2009, I received a lot of ridicule for saying that the Fed is rigging the market, as everybody is well aware.” As for the “sustainable economic recovery”, i.e., what happens to Quantitative Easing?: “They probably will end for a while; we think there is going to be a QE3 and 4, or until the market says: “No Mas – we are not going to believe this game the Fed is playing… the Fed is printing over $100 billion a month to buy other assets and pay bills, and economic growth is picking up at a $200 billion ANNUAL rate. This is a very inefficient method of boosting the economy…and then how do we repay these trillions that have been created out of thing air in the future?” At which point the producer screams “get him off my show.”

  123. Outofstater says:

    #119 Gary – I read your post and my first reaction was, “OMG, that’s it. He’s right!” This administration is slowly backing up and fading away. It is so overwhelmed by events and a world seemingly spinning out of control that it doesn’t know what to do.

  124. Essex says:

    What would you like the government to do? Spend more on programs? People would bitch about that. So you get what you get folks. The die is cast. Wouldn’t matter who was running things.

  125. Al Mossberg says:


    Is the stench of death getting stronger yet?

  126. Outofstater says:

    #126 I would like government to do as little as possible, get out of the way and let the market work.

  127. Confused In NJ says:

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. and its NATO allies edged closer Monday to formulating a military response to the escalating violence in Libya as the alliance boosted surveillance flights over the country and the Obama administration signaled it might be willing to help arm Moammar Gadhafi’s opponents. Europe, meanwhile, kick-started international efforts to impose a no-fly zone.

    Luckily the Trillion “O” will spend on this is not foreign aid.

  128. sas3 says:

    outofstater #128… you complain that the government is “slowly backing up and fading away” and you want it to “do as little as possible, get out of the way and let the market work”. Obama derangement syndrome?

    Market will not be able to fix issues such as poverty, but stimulus spending by the government can help the poor. If we are anyway going to see big inflation, why not get there with all the guns blazing instead of accepting defeat and giving up? The big inflation will also solve problems of pensions and guaranteed raises for public employees.

  129. gary says:

    And you wanna know what the tell-tale sign is that the end is near? That m’fer will somehow get re-elected.

  130. Outofstater says:

    #130 The administration is backing up and fading away, not the government. And I wasn’t complaining; it was an observation. Stimulus spending?? Using what for money?? There is no money. There is only debt.

  131. House Whine says:

    You can say I am off-base here, but I think it’s almost unbearable that we have millions of children going to bed without dinner. No, I don’t have a solution but enough with people complaining about having to sacrifice a raise for 1 year or having to contribute more for their healthcare. Nothing is as bad as a country as rich as ours not finding a way to feed its children. ‘Nuff said.

  132. sas3 says:

    gary, #131

    Right now, Obama trails a “generic republican”, but beats all the GOP front-runners, there is no “somehow” in Obama getting re-elected. The alternative will be a joke on us all.

    Outofstater, new stimulus spending can use the same type of money that funded the Iraq war, and the same type that was used to give tax cuts for the rich. When everyone is feeding at the through, why not let the starving children have a bite? Assuming that the Faux types have the decency to not lament “how the lazy children of non-tax-paying parents have it all with three meals a day!”

  133. d2b says:

    Debt 121-
    Something to consider about food stamps is that recently unemployed people rarely qualify because they had too much income. You have to be broke for a while before things can kick in.

  134. Confused In NJ says:

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama reversed course Monday and ordered a resumption of military trials for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, making his once ironclad promise to close the isolated prison look even more distant.

  135. Outofstater says:

    I think hungry kids should be at the front of the line for help of all kinds, both private and government and I do put my money where my mouth is, on a regular basis, to our local food pantry. It’s all the rest of the spending that bothers me and the ever growing mounds of debt that will sink us all. We are borrowing and printing money to pay our debts. Doesn’t seem like a sustainable model to me.
    I must admit I do have a problem coming to terms with my belief that no one should go hungry with my equally strongly held belief that the market should be free to work. (That’s one definition of insanity, right?) And I could say that if we let the market work and let the economy recover on its own, in the long run, people would be able to feed themselves, but as Harry Hopkins said during the last Depression, “People don’t eat in the long run, they eat every day.” The best solution I can come up with is for individuals and private entities to dig into their own pockets and voluntarily give food to those who need it. So that’s what I do.

  136. Essex says:

    128. The market is working. The gulf between the ultra rich (those with biiiiig money to invest) and the destitute, those with nothing. Is ever increasing. Fall out of the middle class yet? If so, there is only one way….dooooown. What else would you like the market to do?

  137. House Whine says:

    137-Thanks Outofstater. You are right. I haven’t been contributing nearly enough to my town’s food pantry. Time for me to step it up. There but for the Grace of God go I.

  138. Confused In NJ says:

    Osama Bin Ladin spent $200K flying four jets into various targets. The US got duped into spending untold Trillions as a result. If Bin Ladin ever dies it will be of laughter as he watches our whirling dirvish screw itself into oblivion.

  139. nj escapee says:

    Confused, don’t forget “never let a crisis go to waste” a lot of money was made by the likes of Blackwater, Chertoff and Ridge in the name of Homeland Insecurity.

  140. chicagofinance says:

    Believe it or not, I actually find Sastry 10x more offensive than Jam Master Jamil…..

  141. sas3 says:

    #142? I am suggesting deficit spending targeted towards very low income people and you are deeply offended by it? What are you smoking?

  142. Libtard says:


    Billy Ray Valentine: Yeah. You know, it occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people.
    Coleman: You have to admit, sir, you didn’t like it yourself a bit.

  143. Shore Guy says:

    One of the biggest things holding back poor folks, especially the urban poor, is lack of educational attainment and one of the biggest factors in that lack of attainment is the lack of parental support. Another is a local environment that devalues education anddisyra
    cts students from learning.

    Therefore, the poor should have the option of publically-funded residential schools.

  144. Libtard says:

    And the wealthy should be provided smart phones with better keyboards. How you hanging in there Shore?

    BTW, I agree with your assessment. Irvington, East Orange and Newark have the most amazing educational facilities. Unfortunately, if these kids parents don’t value education, no amount of spending is going to improve the graduation rate there.

  145. chicagofinance says:

    sas3 says:
    March 7, 2011 at 10:36 pm
    #142? I am suggesting deficit spending targeted towards very low income people and you are deeply offended by it? What are you smoking?

    no offense, but you consistently have the credibility of an armchair quarterback should you be familiar with the term…..may a more diplomatic way to express my opinion is that I believe your arguments are generally not well thought through, and are reflexively socialist for no other reason than moral righteousness…..I find that troubling at best….

  146. chicagofinance says:

    Stu: A client of mine is part of the EDA team in Trenton for school facilities. He mentions these hi-tech blackboards and TVs in schools from those districts that are left turned off because faculty and students find them a burden to use.

    Libtard says:
    March 7, 2011 at 10:59 pm
    BTW, I agree with your assessment. Irvington, East Orange and Newark have the most amazing educational facilities. Unfortunately, if these kids parents don’t value education, no amount of spending is going to improve the graduation rate there.

  147. Pat says:

    Hmmmm….the myth of the Promethean Boards, a.k.a. the Saviors of the Math Scores.

    In my kid’s school, they play Jeopardy on them in the cafeteria- right before the state assessment tests.

    I d ooo n ‘ t k n ooooow what they do with them the rest of the time.

  148. jamil says:

    142, i feel insulted

  149. sastry (130)-

    Once again, please send me some of what you are smoking.

  150. whine (133)-

    Food is for winners.

  151. chi (142)-

    The naivete is breathtaking.

  152. sastry (144)-

    I am suggesting we all chip in and build a spaceship to Jupiter. We’ll save money and keep the ship cool by going at night.

  153. wow, you’ll have a magical blog. Write much more about it.

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