Stu and Gator single-handedly trigger Montclair reval

From the Montclair Times:

Montclair reassessment will impact all property values

All Montclair property owners can expect their property tax assessments to change following a reassessment that’s now in progress, some more than others, the company doing the work told the Township Council Tuesday night.

Steven Rubenstein of Realty Appraisal Co., himself a Montclair resident, did a presentation to the council at its pre-meeting discussion session. His company will working off of a land and building database created during a township reevaluation five years ago.

“We will be revising all of the values from that 2006 reevaluation, including the thousands of properties that have been changed since that time,” Rubenstein said, later adding, “This is a downward reassessment.”

Under questioning by 2nd Ward Councilman Cary Africk, Rubenstein said that even Montclair residents who had successful tax appeals will have updated assessments.

“All assessments will change,” Rubenstein said. “Every single assessment will change. Some will change a lot more than others.”

The point of the reassessment is to adjust the property values throughout Montclair so they reflect current market values. Real estate prices plummeted after Montclair’s reevaluation was done, prompting Montclair residents to file tax appeals that reflected the decreased value of their homes. Those successful appeals have proven to be a huge financial burden on the township, with $2.1 million in tax refunds required last year and as much as $4 million being projected this year by Township Attorney Ira Karasick.

In addition, there’s a need to level the playing field in Montclair, so that property owners who never filed appeals, but whose home values declined, are not shouldering an unfair burden in terms of local taxes.

“The assessment seeks to restore the uniformity that’s been severely eroded by five years of tax appeals that have plagued the township,” Rubenstein said. “The taxpayers who have filed appeals over the last five years have gotten reductions. Their assessments are not going to change as much as some of the other assessments in town. Their new reassessment value may not be much lower than what they’re at now. For the thousands of property owners that have not filed tax appeals over the last five years, and whose assessments are therefore the same now as they were in 2007, those are the properties that are going to see the most percentage change in their new value.”

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91 Responses to Stu and Gator single-handedly trigger Montclair reval

  1. Mike says:

    Good Morning New Jersey

  2. grim says:

    From the Daily Record:

    Wooden huts come down in Lakewood’s Tent City

    Marilyn Berenzweig has again lost her home, this time in Tent City, a camp for the homeless.

    The 60-year-old textile designer from Jamaica Estates, N.Y., had been living in a 12-foot-by-12-foot wooden hut in the woods off Cedar Bridge Avenue near Clover Street, a community popularly known as Tent City.

    But Monday was the deadline for huts put up at the camp within the last year to be taken down, said Steven A. Brigham, an advocate for the homeless.

    In addition to the community’s chapel, there were 15 huts like the one Berenzweig had been living in after losing her job.

    Though she put on a brave face, and Brigham was providing her with a fabric camping tent, Berenzweig was clearly worried about the future.

    The summer may have brought warm weather, but the pooling weight of the recent weekend’s rains snapped the joints of one of the fabric camping tents erected in a place of one of the huts, Brigham said.

    And in a few months will come winter. Last year saw three feet of snow in the camp.

    “It’s a little like a friend has died,” Berenzweig said of losing her hut. “It was small, but it was cozy.”

    Lakewood Township, which had sued Brigham and the inhabitants of the camp as a way to relocate them, agreed not to pursue the lawsuit so long as the community was not expanded, Brigham said.

  3. grim says:

    From the WSJ:

    Linkage in Income, Home Prices Shifts

    Home prices in some of the nation’s hardest-hit metro areas have fallen far below pre-bubble levels, stirring concerns that properties in those markets are undervalued.

    In a recent analysis, real-estate firm Zillow Inc. studied the correlation between home prices and annual incomes over the 15-year period that ended in 2000, before home prices began to surge.

    For decades, price-to-income levels have moved in tandem, with a specific housing market’s prices rising or falling in line with local residents’ incomes. Many economists say that makes the price-to-income ratio a good gauge for determining whether housing is undervalued or overvalued for a given market.

    Zillow found property prices in one-third of nearly 130 housing markets across the nation were undervalued, when compared with residents’ current income and the pre-bubble trend.

    “At a broad level, it is helpful to understand that if people in certain markets paid three times their average income in housing before the bubble, those markets are probably going to get back to that level,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow.

    The analysis underscores a broader point: While the nation’s housing markets largely fell and rose together during the housing boom and bust, they aren’t likely to hit bottom and begin recovery at the same time or pace. The Zillow analysis shows that many markets still appear to be overvalued.

  4. grim says:

    (According to the analysis NYC is still 32% overvalued)

  5. grim says:

    From Reuters:

    Once a nation of homeowners, U.S. turns to rentals

    Builders starting on new apartments are busier than ever these days as demand for rentals climbs and the once-sacrosanct American dream of home ownership fades.

    The Commerce Department said on Tuesday housing starts slipped 1.5 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 604,000 units. But starts on multifamily housing, often used for rentals, rose 7.8 percent to 179,000 units.

    The rise in multifamily units reflects an underlying trend in which rentals are increasing while the national home ownership rate declines.

    The percentage of people who own a home dropped to 65.9 percent during the second quarter — the lowest since the first quarter of 1998. That was down from a peak of 69.2 percent reached in late 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, when lax lending standards were fueling home sales.

    The change appears to be gaining momentum.

    “Even in cases where it might make more financial sense — or it might actually be cheaper on a monthly basis to own a home rather to rent one, a lot of people are not making that purchase,” said Oliver Chang, head of U.S. housing strategy at Morgan Stanley.

    “The trend that we’re on is going to continue,” he added.

    The home ownership rate is likely even lower than the Census Bureau reports, according to Chang and his team of analysts at Morgan Stanley.

    The home ownership rate is only about 59.2 percent once mortgage delinquencies are factored in, something the government does not do, according to a research paper Chang co-authored with Vishwanath Tirupattur and James Egan.

    “The combination of falling home prices, limited mortgage credit, continued liquidations and better rental options is fundamentally changing the way Americans live,” according to the Morgan Stanley research report.

    “We believe this change is only beginning and is moving the country toward becoming a rentership society.”

    Americans have started to sour on the idea of home ownership as tighter lending standards block potential borrowers from obtaining a mortgage, due to the boom and bust of the housing sector and subsequent 2007-2009 financial crisis.

  6. Confuse in NJ says:


  7. grim says:

    From Reuters:

    BofA weighs foreclosure deal: report

    Bank of America Corp may settle a state and federal probe of foreclosure practices in a deal that lets New York proceed with an inquiry into securitizations, Bloomberg reported citing two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

    The firm may pursue an accord with most of the 50 state attorneys general, even if it omits New York’s attorney general Eric Schneiderman, said one of the people, Bloomberg reported.

    BofA did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

    The company executives, concerned that a delay in resolving the case is hurting the firm’s stock, are open to a deal that would resolve most of it, even if some mortgage investigations continue, said one of the people.

    In late June, BofA agreed to an $8.5 billion deal to settle an eight-month dispute with outside investors who bought Countrywide Financial Corp mortgage bonds. The deal, which must be approved by a New York court, applies to all investors in nearly all Countrywide Financial-created mortgage bonds.

    The investors — including Pacific Investment Management Co, or PIMCO, and BlackRock Inc — requested the bank repurchase toxic home loans that comprised a series of mortgage-backed securities.

    Schneiderman has said in court papers that the proposed settlement was “both procedurally and substantively flawed.” He and Delaware attorney general Beau Biden, both Democrats, have ongoing investigations into the mortgage system.

  8. Fabius Maximus says:

    Turd Bloosom wants a mulligan. $120 million PAC cash and no-one to spend it on.

  9. Neanderthal Economist says:

    Grim, cool charts from zillow/wsj thanks. They claim ny is 32% overvalued but then show a deep green color that suggests they are historically 30-50% overvalued so im not sure how to interpret that. Perhaps im missing something. My only beef with the analysis is that it ignoreshistorically low mortgage rates, which is the whole reason that price to income is still so high in many cities.

  10. yo'me says:

    Rising Spending Holds Off U.S. Double-Dip

    Some of the gloom that settled over the U.S. economic outlook as stocks and sentiment plunged in recent weeks may soon dissipate as households keep spending and factories keep producing.

    Industrial output climbed in July by the most this year, according to figures from the Federal Reserve yesterday. Reports last week showed retail sales rose by the most in four months and claims for jobless benefits dropped to the lowest level since early April.

    “There’s nothing in here to suggest the economy is slowing, let alone declining,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York. “Production continues, and production continues because consumers are still making their purchases.”

  11. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Fab 8 Alison McHose is a friend of mine, I will be working very hard against that wing nut.

  12. WickedOrange says:

    i just did a google search for “Linkage in Income, Home Prices Shifts” clicked the result and was able to get into the story. strange.

  13. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    “Rising Spending Holds Off U.S. Double-Dip”

    F’g hilarious- keep ’em coming Bloomberg.

  14. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    From Financial Armageddon:

    Barely Afloat

    In “Walmart Warns on US Weakness,” the Financial Times provides some front-line commentary on how the consumer is really doing nowadays:

    Walmart, the biggest US retailer by revenues, warned on Tuesday that persistent weakness in the US economy was putting pressure on its low income consumers who are increasingly worried about unemployment and becoming more reliant on government assistance.

    The struggling US economy is continuing to take its toll on Walmart’s domestic sales as it reported its ninth consecutive quarter of falling sales at US stores open at least a year. Comparable store sales at Walmart in the US, excluding fuel sales and purchases at Sam’s Club stores, were down by 0.9 per cent from a year ago.

    “We remain concerned about the economic pressure on our customers and the uncertain impact it can have on their shopping behaviour,” Bill Simon, chief executive of Walmart’s US business, said. “With this volatility, it is as important as ever to deliver on Walmart’s one-stop shopping promise for broad assortment and every day low prices.”

    Under the circumstances, it’s probably no surprise to learn, as the following articles suggest, that some desperate souls are resorting to stealing dogs, meat, grave markers, crosses, newspapers, and anything else that isn’t nailed down (and even those that are) to stay afloat amid the so-called economic recovery:

    “Protect Your Pooch! Dog Thefts Are Up 32 Percent” (CBS)

    LOS ANGELES — If you’re one of millions of dog owners in the Los Angeles area, be sure to keep an eye on your beloved four-legged friend.

    Dog thefts are up 32 percent this year, according to the American Kennel Club.

    Stolen dogs are almost always resold, and are often used in laboratories or dog fights.

    Pit bulls and other large breeds are stolen the most frequently. Purebreds are also at risk because thieves think they can get a lot of money for them.

    “Operation Meat Locker Is Latest Attempt to Ax Meat Thieves” (USA Today)

    Take care the next time you order high-quality meat at a lower-than-possible price. With food prices escalating, meat thieves — organized groups who target steaks and high-end cuts at supermarkets for resale to unscrupulous restaurants and markets — are a growing problem. They’re also hitting meat lockers, cattle pens and 18-wheelers.

    The most recent example was in Austin, where in late July police arrested six men in what they dubbed Operation Meat Locker. The sting operation started when managers at H-E-B, a Texas supermarket chain, called police to say that they had stopped a couple of shoplifters who said they were selling the meat they stole to three local restaurants.

    H-E-B was mostly worried about the safety of the consumers who were ending up eating the meat. “They’re watching these guys with this stuff in their pants, and besides being nasty, what’s the temperature of the meat?” says Sgt. David Socha, who took part in the investigation.

    “Criminals Steal from Berrien County Cemetery” (

    Lincoln Charter Township Police say the down economy has forced criminals to a new low.

    For the last four months, dozens of floral arrangements and veteran markers have gone missing from the Hickory Bluff Cemetery. Detectives now believe people are stealing the mementos only to turn around and sell them at flea markets.

    “There has been more theft than normal and it is keeping us very busy,” Lincoln Charter Township clerk Stacy Loar-Porter said.

    Every theft report comes to Porter’s office, at last count, there were more than 50.

    “People go out on the weekend and put out a beautiful plant. Then they come back the next day to visit their loved one and it’s gone,” Loar-Porter added.

    But it’s not just flowers, veteran markers, thought to be made of copper, have also been stolen.

    “Most of the calls that I get where people have stolen are the section close to my maintenance building and our section closet to the ravine in back. The thieves are going to the back because people can’t see them from Cleveland Avenue,” Loar-Porter said.

    “Thieves Steal Crosses, Collection Plates From South Philadelphia Church” (CBS)

    Police are investigating the brazen theft of several sacred items, including crosses and collection plates, from a South Philadelphia church.

    The incident happened sometime late Sunday night at St. Simon the Cyrenian Church at 22nd and Reed Streets in the city’s Point Breeze section.

    According to investigators, the thieves stole two chalices, crucifixes, candle holders and altar bells.

    Church employee Helen Johnston says the thieves even stole food from the kitchen and the church’s water meter, leaving the congregation without running water.

    “Newspaper Theft on the Rise with Coupon Craze” (

    This week we step outside the newsroom to look at challenges and opportunities faced by other departments at The Record.

    We start with the circulation department, responsible for distribution of the newspaper, where director Peter Gutierrez and his staff are facing your basic good news/bad news dilemma.

    The good news: There are hundreds of dollars in money-saving coupons inside the Sunday Record – more than $1,000 in just the last two weeks alone. Subscribers get those coupons in their delivered newspaper, or single-copy buyers can get the potential savings by picking up an issue for $2.

    The bad news: Theft of newspapers from racks is widespread. In some cases, people are putting eight quarters into the machine and taking every copy of The Record (or they leave the newspaper and take only the inserts).

    Newspaper companies have always counted on the “honor system” when selling their publications out of the racks. The concept is that buyers will pay for and take only one newspaper. But too many people have been less than honorable.

    Why is it happening? Well, it’s a phenomenon that is not specific to Stockton. According to published reports, similar theft has happened in many states including Utah, Iowa and New York.

  15. Neanderthal Economist says:

    My prediction is Stu and Gator will be the only residents who’s assessments increase after the reval. Lol.
    I think they’re appeals last year alone caused the library closures…

  16. 3b says:

    #16 Apparently Retailers did well not so much because consumers are spending more but because they have a tighter control on expenses.

  17. Happy Renter says:

    So everyone’s property in the People’s Republic of Montclair will be revalued to a lower value; and then everyone’s tax rate will be increased to bring tax revenue back up to exactly where it was before.

    You can’t fight the NJ mafia (aka city hall) and win. At least not for long (but good job putting up a fight, Gators).

  18. Juice Box says:

    re # 19 – per reinvestor101 it’s all of the negativity we generate

    ” that the recent stock market volatility and weakness
    negatively affected 47% of all consumers, with 31% reporting that the
    impact on their willingness to spend for discretionary or nonessential
    items was modestly negative, while 16% of consumers observed that
    they were significantly less willing to spend in the midst of the market
    volatility. The impact, however had more of a headline or psychological
    impact than a “wealth effect” given that the negative spending impacts
    were skewed towards lower income households rather than
    upper-income households

  19. Juice Box says:

    3B – have you noticed when you buy a new shirt or new slacks now, same exact style
    as say one you bought say three years ago the material feels much thinner?

    “On an unadjusted basis, prices for finished goods moved up 7.2 percent for
    the 12 months ended July 2011”

  20. Juice Box says:


    A boulder topped with a pink ribbon and covered in a spray-painted message: “Happy birthday, Isa.” sits in the driveway of Isabelle Prevost, Monday, August 15, 2011, in Acton Vale, Que. The 20-ton stone was left there as a gift by Dany Lariviere, her ex-husband and mayor of a nearby municipality, following lengthy divorce proceedings. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson–note.html

  21. danxp says:

    22 juicebox

    is it all companies that do that now? buying a regular plain ole t-shirt at banana or gap would be about $20, but it’s of the thickness of a really cheap undershirt… even the hanes white t-shirts are thicker… truly disappointing… don’t even get me started on hooded sweatshirts…

  22. 3b says:

    #22 Juice: Yes. Clothes are becoming disposable now 6 months to a year and it is time to dump them. And quite frankly I don’t see all that much difference in the so called higher quality stuff either.

    And I guess while we are on the subject, I would like to point out how dry cleaning has gotten much more expensive; maybe it is only in the land of Unicorns.

  23. Juice Box says:

    re: #24 – the retailers have been trying not to raise prices. They have made stuff smaller and clothing thinner etc.

    Now they are really getting squeezed by the biggest largest capitalists in the world and will have no choice but to raise prices.

    If you did not know the biggest capitalists in the world have about 80 million members and are know as the CPC.

  24. nj escapee says:

    I work from home so my uniform consists of tshirts, cargo shorts and sandals. maybe jeans in the winter. no drycleaning required.

  25. Juice Box says:

    re #25 – my FIL specializes in overseas delivery of goods sold here, even the Russians are no longer order Levis in large quantities from the USA for delivery to Russia. They get their own better quality version directly from the factories now.

  26. Juice Box says:

    re # 25 – 3b – Plosser of the Philly Fed was on Blooomberg this morning, basically saying the data did not support the Fed’s statement of ZIRP for two more years. He is absolutely right.

    Bye, Bye Middle Class.

  27. Painhrtz - Salmon of Doubt says:

    Congrats Stu and Gator, good thing you left and only have the multi in Montklair. Chairman Fried will surely be looking to send you both to a gulag in Manchuria had you remained.

    you both will be the only ones to get a tax increase by the way

  28. Libtard in Union says:

    Thanks Grim, for the headline.

    Honestly, the worst part of the town reassessing again is having to listen to the idiot public who is so clueless as to how the process works. It was bad enough in 2007, and the assessment company actually did a decent PR job that time.

    Gator and I watched the Montclair town council meeting last night. It is televised live on local access. I beg anyone else with FIOS in the area to watch one of these things. I have never witnessed such an inept group of bumbling fools, completely clueless as to how anything works. If any of them put down the latest issue of “the Nation” for a minute and did some research or even spoke with someone from another town government, it would be a miracle. Instead, same old tax and spend on useless krap in which we don’t need and passing completely unenforceable resolutions on external parties, like PSE&G and Montclair State University.

    We are really liking Glen Ridge so far. Our house was appraised on Monday for the refi (never thought we would be doing this so soon after purchase), and we can’t wait to see what kind of an impact our sweat equity and contracted improvements have made on our home’s value. Will my cheapness have paid off?

  29. Al Mossberg says:

    Hey Bob,

    Im banking on another margin increase on the honest money. If we dont get it Im going to choke myself.

  30. Juice Box says:

    Abercrombie & Fitch – back in the black and another Win Win Proposal from them



    New Albany, Ohio, August 12, 2011: Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) today reported that it has offered compensation to Michael ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino, a character in MTV’s TV show The Jersey Shore to cease wearing A&F products.

    A spokesperson for Abercrombie & Fitch commented:

    “We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans. We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino and the producers of MTV’s The Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.”

    Abercrombie & Fitch
    Brand Senses Department
    (614) 283-6500

  31. NJGator says:

    Pain (30) – Our 2010 settlement actually requires “governing body approval”. We’ll see what happens with that. And I fully expect that we’ll be one of the “few” properties selected for re-inspection.

    FYI – Stu got an official Baristanet warning yesterday for a comment that jokingly described the Mayor as mentally ill. One more infraction and he could probably get banned like Clot.

  32. chicagofinance says:

    Reserve tickets before people start paying attention and you get locked out for months…..

  33. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    (35) juice,

    I bet that AF starts talks, then when another brand signs the cast to an exclusive deal, AF pulls out.

    Course snooki knows all about pulling out.

  34. NJGator says:

    Sign of a bad economy? Wealthy Montclair residents stealing 18,000 towels/year from YMCA.

  35. A.West says:

    Speaking of the Chinese Communist Party,
    Communist party members are the elites, they get access to cheap state-run bank loans, land grabs, etc.
    Remember those high speed rail lines Americans have been lusting after?
    I just read an interview that suggested the >$100bn debt used to finance building is typically backed by local government land grants. Passenger fares generate virtually no funds, so lots of these lines are built on the assumption that land/property prices will keep rising, and thus allow the debt to be repaid. So the underlying thought process behind much of that rail investment? Lets use the railroad project as an excuse to borrow money and do more speculative property development.
    The high speed rail operations will be lucky to ever break even, especially after recent highly-publicized accidents, fare cuts, and frequency reductions.

  36. Painhrtz - Salmon of Doubt says:

    Gator I’m surprised Stu has not been banned since you left the People’s Republic. Not to split hairs but saying Fried is insane is veritable. The stories coming out of their make me believe he is no different than watching Kim Jung Il

  37. Barbara says:

    expect a rate raise about 6 months after the reval

  38. Juice Box says:

    A. West – Back in the 1990s I hired the son of one of the top dogs in China’s Auto Industry. Kid was extremely well educated, but lacked basic street smarts very sheltered upbringing. His views were along the party lines for sure. I felt sorry for him because he had an arranged marriage to the daughter of another top dog, and you could tell he wanted a pretty wife by all the time he spent in strip clubs. He now has four children here in the USA and won’t go back. He even put on a few pounds eats steak and lives in Newport Beach and hasn’t had a care in the world since the party still takes care of him and his parents.

    Seems they are now invading NYC as well.

  39. NJGator says:

    Barbara – Rates going up no matter what. This is a downward reassessment. Just about everyone’s assessment will drop. And this being Montclair, there will be a big tax increase to follow. Can’t wait to see the final 2012 tax rate.

    I am sure they are going to try and assess everyone around 90% to get some downside protection against further price declines in the real estate market. I’ve got my spreadsheet of recent sales that were actually above assessed value. I will be paying particular attention to see what the town does to the assessments of those properties. By rights they should go up, although I doubt the town will do it.

  40. Barbara says:

    Asbury PArk is the best example of this tap dance. Only good thing is that fooling with the rates is a more political issue. People can get emotionally attached to assessments but see rates as nothing more than fat hands in their pockets. Of course, both are the later but that’s just how people tend to react. You may actually get some new bodies during that city council vote.

  41. NJGator says:

    Client #9 Chimes in…

    Obama’s FDR Moment
    President Obama should heed the famous wisdom of FDR: “Above all, try something.” Being passive in the face of rising anxiety breeds discontent, doubt, and ultimately, contempt.

    Interestingly, the president’s one grand moment to date—his embrace of the plan to capture Osama Bin Laden—emerged from a willingness to be bold, even when many of his advisers were counseling otherwise. He defied the more modulated approaches many military advisers recommended, and the payoff, both substantive and political, was huge. The president should take this lesson and apply it to his actions in the domestic arena.

    First, he should act dramatically to help the American homeowner. There is a continuing and incendiary crisis in the housing market, with about 20 percent of all homes underwater (that is, the mortgage owed on the house is greater than the value of the house). This is dragging down our economy, creating a downward spiral of foreclosures and abandonment. The lack of mortgage reform also reminds every homeowner of the unfairness attached to the bailouts: The banks, in their moment of insolvency and need, got hundreds of billions in direct cash payments, guarantees, and transfers in the form of artificially low interest rates, all of which have led to a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers and savers to the banks. Yet homeowners who have seen their primary asset drop in value have been given nothing at all by the banks and nothing meaningful by the president.

    The administration, in conjunction with the Federal Reserve, should insist that banks, in return for all the taxpayer subsidies they have gotten and continue to receive, reduce any mortgage that exceeds the value of the house. Once it is established that the homeowner is underwater, other variables can be considered to determine how much the mortgage should be reduced: the income of the borrower, the year the mortgage was issued, the behavior of the bank in recommending the mortgage, or the culpability of the borrower in misrepresenting income levels.

  42. NJGator says:

    Barbara (45) – We will get new bodies no matter what in the new council vote. Montclair has a long honored tradition of pretty much throwing everyone out every 4 years. This is why the current mayor is circulating a petition to move our election date from May to November. Ostensibly it will save the town $50k every 4 years by having one less election to pay for. His real motiviation is that it will give him an extra 6 months in office. This is his only chance of getting any more time in office.

  43. Anon E. Moose says:

    Barb [42];

    Nassau Co. plays a similar game. They send out post cards with everyone’s ‘ratable’ (or some other term) value, something that is half or less than market value so as not to spook the pigeons. Owners have something like 45-60 days to grieve the value. Once that time passes, they set the rates and hit owners with the tax bill. Once they see the dollar signs, people get motivated to contest, but they can’t because they waived that right during the valuation period. Not to mention that the formula to calculate the taxable value is so much financial alchemy. Long history of politically connected owners having curiously low valuations, too.

  44. 3b says:

    #46 Once it is established that the homeowner is underwater, other variables can be considered to determine how much the mortgage should be reduced: the income of the borrower, the year the mortgage was issued, the behavior of the bank in recommending the mortgage, or the culpability of the borrower in misrepresenting income levels.

    of course this is unfair to those whose houses are not under water, and those who have not purchased yet. In light of this we would also recommend that the Federal government give every adult 21 years and older anywhere form 25k to 50K as a gift. After all if we are going to do for one, we should do for all.

  45. cobbler says:

    NE [11]
    I take any charts treating NYC Metro area as a single thing with a football-size grain of salt, especially when they are not setting apart SFH but blending everything together. Manhattan condos and coops by value are probably 40% of everything in the metro area, extremely highly priced v. the median income, and price decline there was relatively minor – so they skew the whole enchilada. OTOH, price drops in places like Newark had been on par with LV and Detroit, but as the total value there is low, they carry very little weight in the formula.

  46. NJGator says:

    3b (50) – This would be most unfair to the residents of the Land of the Unicorn, where prices have gone up 26% in the last year. They would all bet bupkus.

  47. Barbara says:

    49 Anon and gator

    your posts helped me remember a question I have always wanted to ask, but keep forgetting. When towns do well below market value in their assesments, but then pump up the ratable, how do you contest? Is it only be comparing your bill to the bills of similar properties? Or does keeping the assessments well below market and messing with the rate give them cart blanche, neutralizing any argument?

  48. Barbara says:

    “its it only BY…”

  49. Barbara says:

    ….is it…….

  50. NJGator says:

    Barbara (53) – The state analyzes all usable sales in every taxing district each ear and publishes an average ratio (assessment/sale price) for each town. If your own’s average assessment is below 100%, you have to prove that you are assessed more than 15% above the average ratio in order to prevail in an appeal. That number is the “Upper Limit”. This year in Newark, the average ratio is 67.14%. If you want to win a property tax appeal in Newark this year, you have to show that your assessment is more than 77.21% of your property’s true market value. If you can do that, then your assessment is reduced to 67.14% of market value.

    The “Upper Limit” can never be more than 100% of your property’s true value, which is why towns who reassessed recently have been supremely F’ed.

  51. 3b says:

    #56 It will be interesting to see how this goes in the land of Unicorns. Some residents not happy town may be spending over 200k for this; which they have to borrow.

  52. 3b says:

    #52 NJ Gator: I wonder where Jets is lately, latest Trulia number for the land of Unicorns is down around 14% from last year.

  53. Happy Renter says:

    [57] “It will be interesting to see how this goes in the land of Unicorns. Some residents not happy town may be spending over 200k for this; which they have to borrow”

    I would not be happy about it either, since it is a complete waste of money. To properly assess the value of real estate in Brigadoon-on-Hackensack aka The Little Community That Could! ™, all one need do is take last year’s valuation and increase it by 26%.

    Sheesh. Why does the government need to complicate things?

  54. Juice Box says:

    I am thinking of giving boulders away for Christmas, seems like a real trendy item.

  55. 3b says:

    #59 You would fit in oh so well in Brig-on-Hack; the Unicorns will welcome you

  56. Happy Renter says:

    Wells Fargo Lowers Conforming Loan Limits

    “The deadline for ending temporarily higher loan limits at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA is October 1st, but they are effectively ended now.

    A Wells Fargo spokesman confirms, ‘August 15th was the deadline for applications and rate locks for FHA and conventional conforming loans with balances above the limits we expect will be in place after September 30th.’

    The realists note that within certain mid-to-high end communities, which can underpin an entire county’s economy, the majority of houses and borrowers could be impacted, again weakening the macro economic foundation.”

    Please direct all questions to Gary.

  57. Confused in NJ says:

    No end to the insanity in Washington.

  58. Juice Box says:

    Somebody in Marketing at A&F is getting fired

  59. Simply Ravishing HEHEHE says:

    And Back To Munis, As Fitch Downgrades New Jersey GO From AA To AA-

  60. chicagofinance says:

    The End Is Nigh (Brewster’s Millions Edition):

    AUGUST 17, 2011

    Pour Perks in New Jersey .

    Great wine and the suburbs aren’t words commonly found in the same sentence, but there are a few (admittedly, a very few) places in the greater New York area where it is actually an advantage to be a suburban oenophile.

    New Jersey wine lovers, for example, are twice blessed. They have great BYO options (many restaurants lack liquor licenses due to arcane state laws and diners are allowed to bring their own bottles) and they also have the Pluckemin Inn in Bedminster.

    Situated some 34 miles west of Manhattan, the Pluckemin Inn is home to a chef who studied under Alain Ducasse and has a wine list with 5,450 options, including a prodigious selection of white Burgundies, California Cabernets, Barolos, Brunellos and grower Champagnes. All the best names are represented—often in multiple vintages.

    “We have pretty good allocations,” acknowledged wine director Brian Hider, in a modest understatement. (Great wines are allocated to a limited number of restaurants—usually those with significant buying power.)

    Unlike any restaurant in Manhattan, about 2,300 of the wines on the restaurant’s list are also for sale in Pluckemin’s “virtual” wine store, thanks to another arcane New Jersey law.

    “When the LaGrassas bought the restaurant in 2003 it came with a rare ‘double license’ for a restaurant and package store,” explained Mr. Hider. “We thought, ‘Why not sell wines at retail too?'”

    Mr. Hider, a 42-year-old who was born in Edison, N.J., has been the wine director of Pluckemin Inn since the restaurant opened in 2005. Mr. Hider was “discovered” by the Inn’s late proprietor, Carl LaGrassa, and his wife, Gloria, during their frequent visits to the Tewksbury Inn in nearby Oldwick, N.J., where Mr. Hider was a sommelier. He and Mr. LaGrassa struck up a friendship based on a mutual love of wine. Mr. LaGrassa’s ambitions went far beyond the accumulation of great bottles: He wanted to have his own restaurant as well.

    When Mr. LaGrassa passed away in 2009, his dream became his wife Gloria’s, though her wine knowledge was comparatively limited. And so Mr. Hider became Mrs. LaGrassa’s tutor—tasting wines with her and taking her on trips to wine regions in California and France. He even color-coded the bottles in her cellar.

    “Brian puts green stickers on the wine bottles that I can open without thinking. Yellow meant to pause and red meant ‘Call Brian,'” said Mrs. LaGrassa, a gregarious woman in her 70s.

    Mrs. LaGrassa is listed as Host on the menu along with the names of Executive Chef Jose Cuevas and Pastry Chef Joseph Gabriel. But Mr. Hider’s name isn’t on the wine list at all. Usually, such a large list (actually two books—for red and white) would have a wine director credit somewhere. Mr. Hider seemed genuinely surprised when this was pointed out to him. “I never thought about that,” he replied.

    Another missing element was a selection of older wines. Although there were a few great old bottles, including a 1934 Domaine de la Romanee Conti Romanee Conti at $25,000, they were surprisingly limited for such a list. That’s due to yet another arcane New Jersey liquor law: Restaurateurs in New Jersey can’t buy wines directly at auction like they can in New York. (Auctions are the primary source of most older bottles.) “In New Jersey you have to clear everything through a wholesaler, which makes it a lot more difficult,” explained Mr. Hider, who is holding some wines in reserve, building up a cellar of older wines gradually.

    Pluckemin patrons are allowed to bring their own wines to the restaurant ($35 corkage fee), but there is a limit of one bottle per couple. My wine-collector friend had brought two bottles of California Cabernet (Colgin Cellars and Peter Michael), but we wanted to order a white wine, preferably Burgundy. I asked Mr. Hider to choose between two Meursaults we were considering—the 2006 Domaine Fichet Les Tessons ($145) and the 2006 Domain Remi Jobard Les Genevrieres ($160). He chose the less expensive Fichet, enthusing over its elegant profile. “Fichet is a real up-and-coming producer,” he said.

    The wine, a judicious balance of mineral tones and rich fruit, was a fine match with appetizers that included octopus carpaccio with tomato confit and a tuna crudo with coriander, mussels, peach, mustard sprouts and lobster vinaigrette. The Pluckemin menu is wide-ranging, including simple “Plucky Classics” like Burgers and Fish and Chips, and five- and six-ingredient items like a Wild Alaskan Halibut, Cayuga freekeh, clams, mussels, calamari and saffron jus. (Chef Cuevas worked with Dan Barber at Blue Hill and Mr. Ducasse in New York before moving to New Jersey in 2009.)

    A few days after the dinner, I was looking over the Pluckemin wine shop website and noticed that the 2006 Fichet Meursault we’d chosen was $82. Could we have purchased the bottle, paid the $35 corkage and brought it to the restaurant—thereby saving $28? I called Mr. Hider to propose the scenario. “If you had gone to all the trouble, I would honor that,” he replied pleasantly, adding that a couple of diners had suggested doing the same. No doubt they were New Yorkers like me.

  61. yo'me says:

    Who holds the most U.S. debt?

    You do. Roughly 28 percent of the $14.3 trillion national debt is sitting in a Treasury Department account called “Social Security.” Another 12 percent is held in hundreds of other trust funds. These are savings accounts used to cover future payments like Medicare.

  62. ithink _ ithink says:

    2.5 yrs after being in the house our town was reassessed. We removed the false ceiling in the basement so we could move vents, pipes, etc. We still left the paneled walls up. Walls don’t matter apparently; no ceiling = unfinished basement = lower assessment. The thinking now is to never put a ceiling up when all is said and done and just paint out all of the pipes, venting, & ceiling to white.

    Our cat was very sick in the master bath so no one got to see the nice new tile job there so that was assessed in out of dated favor too.

    But why are certain improvements like counter tops, cabinets, or tile a reason to increase? It’s like changing out knobs on a dresser, no? I buy a busted dresser for $10, I go all design*sponge on it, yet even though I’m not selling it marked up in a boutique, I’ve got to pay? I see an out of date neighborhood with good house bones as a demo blank canvas that historical trim provenance or tiled rooster backsplashes won’t forgive. I could see a higher assessment for a 2nd story or an extra garage, but new breakfast bars made of grave stone or not, why discourage the improvement?

  63. chicagofinance says:

    The End Is Nigh (Late Show Edition):

    Internet jihadist calls on Muslims to cut off David Letterman’s tongue

    David Letterman has become terror target No. 1.

    The new threat comes from a frequent poster on Islamic jihadist forums, Umar al Basrawi, who implored American Muslims to “cut the tongue of this lowly Jew and shut it forever,” according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, a non-profit that monitors online jihadists.

    Letterman, who isn’t Jewish, became the object of al-Basrawi’s ire when the late-night funnyman told a joke about the death of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda’s search for his replacement.

    “So [al Qaeda] picked a successor to Osama bin Laden and his name was Ilyas Kashmiri,” Letterman said during his opening monologue on June 8th, “well, guess what, he was blown up by an American drone.”

    “It wasn’t going to work anyways because they got off to a rocky start with this guy,” Letterman continued, “he botched up the story of Paul Revere.”

    Apparently, comparing the dead terrorist to Sarah Palin was one step too many for al-Basrawi, who ended his online rant with, “We ask Allah to paralyze his tongue and grant the sincere monotheists his neck. Oh Allah, amen.”

    He then compared Letterman fate to the successful hit of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was called by Islamic radicals in Brooklyn in 1990.

    “To the righteous Muslims in America: Isn’t there among you [a man like] Sayyid Nosair, the Egyptian, who can cut off the tongue of this lousy Jew and silence him forever, just like Sayyid – may Allah hasten his release – did to his fellow Jew, [Rabbi Meir] Kahane?” al-Basrawi wrote in a translation provided by MEMRI.

    A spokesman for Letterman declined to comment.

    Al-Basrawi appears to have an Iraqi identity based on his name, according to MEMRI spokesman Richard Wachtel.

    There have been more than 1,200 posts and replies by al-Basrawi on the jihadi-themed Shumoukh online forum, according to MEMRI.

    Most of al-Basrawi post’s concerned terror attacks and the jihadi movement in Iraq, Wachtel said.

    The FBI did not immediately return a call for comment.

  64. Happy Renter says:

    [70] “I could see a higher assessment for a 2nd story or an extra garage, but new breakfast bars made of grave stone or not, why discourage the improvement?”

    Don’t question the NJ mafia. Consider yourself lucky to have to have the privilege of paying for a new kitchen counter top and paying taxes on said counter top for the rest of your life.

    Why shouldn’t NJ be entitled to increase your taxes based on your enjoyment of a nice shiny new counter top in your kitchen?

  65. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    (67) moose.

    Not that far from me, but I would not want to live on elm closer to town. Too much traffic

  66. Gator (36)-

    Make another post at Baristafart, and imply that the only cure for that jerkwad’s mental illness is a hollow-point round.

  67. 3b (50)-

    I’d sign on the dotted line right now if our dying gubmint bought me and mine one way tickets to Chile.

  68. chi (68)-

    Brian Hider is a nice guy. Their retail operation sells virtually no wine. His pals and a handful of regulars at the Plucky call him every once in a while and place orders for stuff that he barely marks up at all.

    The recession has hit the Somerset hills. The locals have really pared back on their dining out and consumption of first growths.

  69. Word has it 56 Degree in B’ville is hurting. Another chi-chi wine joint, with stuff nobody wants or can afford.

  70. Libtard at home says:

    Meat (77) – Amanti Vino in Montclair seems to keep cruising along. We can still afford to buy wine here in Montclair. We just steal towels from the Y to make up for it.

  71. NJGator says:

    78 was Gator.

  72. Heartwarming:

    “In addition to the nationalization of his gold insutry, Chavez earlier also announced that he would recover virtually all gold that Venezuela hold abroad, starting with 99 tons of gold at the Bank of England. As the WSJ reported earlier, “The Bank of England recently received a request from the Venezuelan government about transferring the 99 tons of gold Venezuela holds in the bank back to Venezuela, said a person familiar with the matter. A spokesman from the Bank of England declined to comment whether Venezuela had any gold on deposit at the bank.” That’s great, but not really a gamechanger. After all the BOE should have said gold. What could well be a gamechanger is that according to an update from Bloomberg, Venezuela has gold with, you guessed it, JP Morgan, Barclays, and Bank Of Nova Scotia. As most know, JPM is one of the 5 vault banks. The fun begins if Chavez demands physical delivery of more than 10.6 tons of physical because as today’s CME update of metal depository statistics, JPM only has 338,303 ounces of registered gold in storage. Or roughly 10.6 tons. A modest deposit of this size would cause some serious white hair at JPM as the bank scrambles to find the replacement gold, which has already been pledged about 100 times across the various paper markets. Keep an eye on gold in the illiquid after hour market. The overdue scramble for delivery may be about to begin.”

  73. lib (78)-

    Amanti is doing well in spite of being in Montklair, not because of it. They scaled their selections to focus on value and unusual wines the minute the eclownomy got bad. They aren’t choking on Parker/Specatator 98-point wines that nobody wants, and the liquidity of their inventory will assure they live to see better days.

  74. ZH has taken to calling the Euro periphery Club Ded.

  75. NJGator says:

    Meat (81) – That’s good news. Because the last thing we need is for them to go under and be replaced by another mediocre Italian restaurant.

  76. chicagofinance says:

    I can’t ever forgive them for taking away my favorite shot and a beer watering hole for alcoholics……now it is anyplace…

    There Went Meat says:
    August 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm
    chi (68)-

    Brian Hider is a nice guy. Their retail operation sells virtually no wine. His pals and a handful of regulars at the Plucky call him every once in a while and place orders for stuff that he barely marks up at all.

    The recession has hit the Somerset hills. The locals have really pared back on their dining out and consumption of first growths.

  77. chi (84)-

    Back in the day, I always enjoyed watching the parking lot fights there. The best you can get now is watching some fat douche yell at the valet.

    I have the weird feeling that place is one bad event away from becoming a Chili’s with a world class wine list.

  78. I’d like a quesadilla and a fish taco with that Jobard Meursault, waiter…

  79. Back in the day, we’d close the Ryland on snow days, then go over to the Plucky and drink until we couldn’t stand up.

    Good times.

  80. chicagofinance says:

    I hope things are sorting themselves out at the new venture…….

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