Time: What mattered in 2011 – Grim: What really mattered in 2011

From Time:

5 Events that Really Mattered for Housing in 2011 – and Beyond

Government, the mortgage industry and forces of nature all shook the housing market in 2011. They had both an immediate impact and slow-burning effects, setting the stage for a bumpy 2012 with more foreclosures, political battles and local market risks.

1) Robo-Signing Reverberations

What Really Mattered: The threat of robo-signing lawsuits made banks gun-shy about pursuing foreclosures in 2011, which left many homes stuck in the foreclosure process. But once a settlement is reached, we’ll see a rush of foreclosures in 2012.

2) The Debt Ceiling and the Budget Deficit

What Really Mattered: After the debt ceiling debate, the back and forth deliberations by the unsuccessful bipartisan deficit-reduction supercommittee teased us with some proposals that will surely rear their heads again. One idea that both Republicans and Democrats didn’t totally disagree about was reducing the mortgage interest and other tax deductions. If and when that happens, high-income homeowners with mortgages would pay a lot more in taxes.

3) The Expansion of HARP

What Really Mattered: Borrowers who strategically fell behind on their payments in hopes of negotiating a loan-modification won’t be helped. What this plan will do is stimulate the economy without having to get Congress to agree on additional stimulus.

4) Natural Disasters Cause Insurance Disaster?

What Really Mattered: In flood-prone areas, you can’t get a mortgage if you don’t have flood insurance. Without NFIP, housing markets in these areas would skid to a stop. As part of last week’s payroll tax agreement, the program got a last-minute extension until May 2012, but its future remains uncertain.

5) Lowering the Conforming Loan Limit

What Really Mattered: Mortgage lenders are willing to charge lower rates for loans that are backed by Fannie or Freddie; with a lower conforming loan limit, a small number of loans that used to qualify for federal backing no longer do.

From Grim:

What Really Mattered for Housing in 2011

1) Continued decline of prices

How can you possibly overlook the continuation of the housing decline into it’s fifth year? This is, undoubtedly the single most important event for housing in 2011.

2) Stabilization of prices

Not to sound contradictory, but the decrease in the overall rate of decline (Second derivative? Don’t crash if you are reading this on your phone in the car morning) in spite of numerous negative forces (double digit U-6, slow to no job or income growth, etc), and without significant market influence (homebuyer credits, etc) does point to an overall stabilization in pricing.

3) Disconnect between mortgage rates and housing demand

I think these one can finally be put to bed this year. Extremely low mortgage rates do not necessarily lead to an increase in housing purchase activity. For years the thought was a lower price of housing capital (interest) would lead to greater demand for it. Turns out this isn’t the case and Greenspan’s greatest play simply can’t be repeated.

4) Slow Economic Recovery/High Unemployment

Probably the biggest single external influence on the housing market? Nothing more needs to be said here.

5) Bailout Capitulation

Finally the year that the housing bailout went out of style. Realization sets in that other than shoveling dollars into buyers pockets directly, which at best only elicits a temporary boost in housing, there just isn’t a scheme that’ll fix the market.

This entry was posted in Economics, Housing Bubble, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate. Bookmark the permalink.

133 Responses to Time: What mattered in 2011 – Grim: What really mattered in 2011

  1. Replace the shit-for-brains crew that runs Time with grim!

  2. grim says:

    From the WSJ:

    Big Funds Build Case for Housing

    Big money is starting to wager on housing.

    Hedge funds run by Caxton Associates LP, SAC Capital Advisors LP, Avenue Capital and Blackstone Group LP have been buying housing-related investments, betting on a rebound. And formerly bearish research firm Zelman & Associates now predicts a housing pickup, as does Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

    Ivy Zelman [predicts] that rising rents will push would-be buyers to purchase homes. A housing recovery isn’t “happening as fast as everyone would like,” she says. But there are “a lot of pillars in place to give us some optimism.”

  3. grim says:

    Zelman was in the housing bear camp for years…

  4. Mike says:

    Good Morning New Jersey

  5. Brian says:

    Are there any RE agents on this board that know the Sparta/Lake Mohawk area? Would you say this property is priced appropriately? It’s my parent’s place, they’re trying to sell it, retire, and downgrade. They’re not underwater or anything, they bought it in the 70’s. Buyers keep coming in, looking around. We’re not getting much feedback from people at open houses. If they would just tell us what they don’t like about it, we’d fix it to sell the place (countertops, fixtures, whatever). Anyway, I appreciate the feedback. Thanks.

  6. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Brain taxes?

  7. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Never mind found them brain. This home is the same price http://www.weichert.com/40133052/?cityid=48368&maxpr=275&spg=4&tsf=sbl. You are priced to high, follow link to weichart page on your link it will list similar homes in Sparta. They for the most part are much larger & newer.

  8. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Look at the room sizes in the one I posted, which one would you buy.

  9. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Brain try 199.99 if they get it consider themselves lucky. This was a summer home that heat was put in with non insulated log walls correct?

  10. Brian says:

    Mikeinwaiting 10: Yes. It has a brand new furnace though. Surprisingly, their heat bills were pretty low even before they replaced the furnace. A contractor replaced one of the windows on the side of the house once and we found the walls to be about 5 to 6 inches thick. Solid wood. Not sure what “R” value that is but I always felt warm when I lived there.

  11. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Brain just for the record I am not an agent but do live up here & follow the market very closely. Never the less your competition speaks for it self. Go to gsmls under 200 3 bds 72 Woodlawn 199.99 , for 25-30 less anyone can have a lot nicer home 200-250 search.
    You do not have to be an agent to check out your competition and price accordingly.

  12. grim says:

    Brian – Couple points.

    1) Massive amount of inventory in that price range. There are close to 60 homes for sale, right now, between $199k and $299k.

    2) Most everything selling from the $250k and up mark has been updated. New siding/windows, updated kitchens, updated baths.

    3) Sales in that price range are pretty slow. We’re talking 5 in the past 3 months. At this rate, it’ll take 3 years to sell the current inventory, assuming no new homes hit the market. That said, there has been a pick up in activity lately, with 8 properties UC in this range since Oct 1st.

    4) 22 Shawnee is UC, last asking price is $199,000. Last 6 months List Price/Sell Price is around 95%, so this one should be closing around $189k. We’ve got updated kitchen (granite & stainless) and baths, an in-ground pool, 1 car garage, and is 1962 square feet vs 1202)

  13. Brian says:

    Thanks Mike. I wish somebody would at least make a lowball offer or something. I suppose if we lower the price enough it will sell. Their timing for retirement really sucks though.

  14. grim says:

    Lastly, they are chasing the market bad, who advised a $325k ask originally? This was way out of line. Reality check, come Spring they’ll be at 500 days on market. At this point, the entire Sparta buyer pool has already seen the house and passed on it. Your coming to a timeframe where you’ll be self-stigmatizing the property, everyone is going to think something is wrong with it if no one has bought it in almost 2 years.

  15. Brian says:

    Grim 13: So Grim, what are your thoughts on the best way to stand out? Just lower the price or throw in some updates too? They did put a new furnace in and they just completely ripped off the rear deck and replaced it (done after photos were taken). They don’t want to invest too much money into it as they are trying to sell it. What do you think would be the wisest way to spend money on updates? Thanks for your input.

  16. Brian says:

    Grim 15: Yeah I told my mother she really needs to think about getting another real estate agent. She’s half heartedly trying to sell it. I have to really get on her about being more aggressive if she really wants to sell it. They don’t want to be over there shoveling the circular driveway or mowing the huge lawn with their tiny little crappy lawn mower anymore. She’d rather be in a condo where she doesn’t have to think about that stuff anymore.

  17. grim says:

    Why doesn’t the listing reflect the new furnace and deck in the photos and description? That shouldn’t take the listing agent more than 5 minutes. Based on what you said, that’s just lazy.

    Also, was the old oil tank removed? Or was it abandoned in place?

  18. grim says:

    Ah one more thing, if they are only a 2br Septic, don’t go comp’ing against true 3br properties.

  19. gary says:

    Extremely low mortgage rates do not necessarily lead to an increase in housing purchase activity. For years the thought was a lower price of housing capital (interest) would lead to greater demand for it.

    When you’re fat, stupid, broke and still insist on borrowing money to pay for iShit, then a zero percent interest rate is not going to matter.

  20. Brian says:

    Oil Tank is in the basement. It never was underground.

  21. Brian says:

    Septic was upgraded in late 80’s.

  22. funnelcloud says:

    Ivy Zelman [predicts] that rising rents will push would-be buyers to purchase homes.

    Another attempt to manipulate the market…Force the rents up and people will buy,,,
    “nope” force the rents up and kids move back in with mom and dad, can’t pay $1500-2000 a month working at walmart.

  23. Barbara says:

    20. MOM!!!!!!!! Gary is picking on Apple products again! *hugs IPad *

  24. Brian says:

    Everything is functional. Maybe just a little out of style.

  25. chicagofinance says:

    I think this roughly describes me, at least for now….

    Brian says:
    December 29, 2011 at 9:25 am
    Everything is functional. Maybe just a little out of style.

  26. gary says:


    LOL! My daughter has every “i” product ever created! Drives me nuts! :)

  27. Juice Box says:

    Speaking of iPhone/iPad and Kids and Christmas….

    NSFW – (Kids swearing on twitter at their parents because they did not get the iPhone/iPad new car etc)


  28. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    You’ll need a significant economic turnaround before you are going to see housing turnaround. Even if you believe we are at or near the bottom, unless there’s some sort of legit economic turnaround (i.e. not some bs short term stimulus induced GDP pop for a couple quarters) housing could stay at this point for years.

  29. grim says:

    23 – How on earth does the rental market get manipulated in the way you suggest? Maybe in tiny submarkets where the entire rental stock is managed by a single entity, otherwise damn near impossible.

  30. Dissident HEHEHE says:

    Also the idea of “rising rents” somehow going to spur a sizable uptick in home purchases is a joke. It may spur the conversion of more condo projects to rental or the building of more rental units but I seriously doubt a 5% uptick in rent is somehow going to spur a bunch of people who, even if they have the downpayment money, to go running to buy a home given all the transaction costs AND unrealistic sellers.

  31. gary says:

    Slow Economic Recovery/High Unemployment.

    It’s not going to get better any time soon. Any job that can be outsourced will be so leaving us fighting over scraps in the form of hedge cutter and burger flipper critters. Couple that with rising costs across the board of which we have no recourse and house prices will continue to fall with no bottom in sight. Maybe if Romney gets elected it will spur some investment growth, loosen feel-good restrictions, dump the anchor known as Oblamacare and get the ball rolling. Otherwise, if the Annointed One is re-elected, expect at least 4 more years of something resembling a Dickens novel.

  32. grim says:

    You’ll need a significant economic turnaround before you are going to see housing turnaround … housing could stay at this point for years.

    Yes and yes.

    Question is, do you want to buy a property or not? If you do, do the numbers make sense? If you don’t, go ahead and rent, no big deal.

    If you want to stay quantitative, look at the numbers, the purchase is either going to make sense financially, or it won’t. If you can rent the same property for a fraction of the cost to buy, why the heck would you buy?

    If your own affordability model is predicated on increasing prices in the near term, your model is broken, it’s not going to work. However, if your model doesn’t bank on housing appreciation, does it matter at all if housing won’t uptick for 5 more years? Or 10? If your horizon is short term, 5 to 7 years or less, does buying really make sense for you?

    Shelter is consumption, six years ago, renting made more sense. Today, it’s starting to become more evenly matched.

    We all hung on Price/Rent ratios in the early days of the bubble as one of the clearest indicators that the market was significantly out of whack. Today, with lower prices, and higher rents, those ratios are starting to approach the norms we saw in the early 2000’s. If we used the metric to illustrate the bubble, I’m not sure how we ignore the metric today without looking a bit hypocritical.

  33. gary says:

    If you can rent the same property for a fraction of the cost to buy, why the heck would you buy?

    I’ve been thinking about it lately and I never thought that I would.

  34. joyce says:

    Gary your comments about housing are hilarious and usually spot on, but I just do not understand how you can think Romney will help at all. (yes, I’m a fan of Ron Paul – but forget about him for the moment). What is one substantial difference between Romney and Obama?

    They are both bankrolled by Wall Street; isn’t that enough to know nothing will change?

  35. gary says:


    I can’t disagree with you. How about, “anyone but Oblama.” He bashes ‘millionaires and billionaires’ on a daily basis and quite frankly, it’s those ‘rich’ folk that will potentially hire me and maybe even with a benefits package! Oblamma has zero friends on the hill and I’ve never heard him drill the message that jobs are priority one. He claims they are and yet, after $4,000,000,000,000 in spending, the result is nothing. Time for change.

  36. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    (35) joyce,

    There are substantive differences between Romney and Obama, even with Obama’s predicted rightward shift. But those differences are muted unless the Senate come along.

    ATEOTD, the presidency forces the occupant into a narrow range. For example, if you look at the records and accomplishments, was there much truly substantive difference between Carter and Reagan? How about Clinton and Bush?

    The real differences come in leadership style and priorities, and, to a large degree, luck.

  37. Juice Box says:

    Grim – “the norms we saw in the early 2000′s”

    Sure lets look at Price/Rent ratios Apparently they have they correcting down to a reasonable rental yield, which means unless rents start rising rapidly real estate prices are likely to stay pretty stagnant.

    Another factor for the Renters looking to Buy is the new credit guidelines higher FICO 700 + with larger down-payment requirements etc. Estimates are that that these requirement changes alone have shut 13 million households out of the mortgage market, they will just remain Renters until they get the larger down-payment and fix their credit scores. Not easy to do with all of revolving credit, monthly fees and rising costs coupled with minimum pay raises and bonuses.

  38. grim says:

    34 – I’ve worked with a number of clients that have looked at rentals in the nicer areas and almost always they walk away disappointed (and stay in NYC).

    Decent house in a nice neighborhood starts around $3,000 a month, it’s a pretty consistent number. Trying to drop under this usually means moving down into a lower tier area where there is a larger rental stock, or something in town that is a terrible value. Problem with the lower-tier rentals always boils down to moving the kids into a school system temporarily. I haven’t met anyone that would consider renting in Waldwick if they were looking to buy in Ridgewood.

    Problem is, if we’re talking about solid towns (Franklin Lakes, Summit, Short Hills, etc), that $3k number basically gets you a livable property, bare minimum, and 4 starts to become the new 3 for something on the nicer side.

    Just like purchases, there tends to be value up in the higher price tiers. I’ve done some rentals above $5k/month (one just a touch under $8k) that were relative bargains in comparison to buying. Taxes on one of these places was in the high 40s.

  39. joyce says:

    Absolutely, I want someone else and not Obama in the White House; change is needed. But I’m serious when I say, I believe nothing besides rhetoric will change if it’s someone like Romney. So, what’s the point?

    I agree the president is and should not be a king with the ability to do anything (although executive orders are getting scarier with each presidency). I’m curious to know what you think the differences between them are?

  40. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Initial Jobless Claims: +15K to 381K vs. +9K consensus. Continuing claims +34K to 3.6M.

  41. spyderjacks says:

    The problem is simple: all of the conservative rhetoric has left the republican party without a viable candidate. Nobody with any political skills or vision is willing to give in to the extreme (as McCain attempted ). Obama is running unopposed.

  42. grim says:

    41 – Let’s see how bad the post-holiday season gets over the next 3-4 weeks.

  43. Juice Box says:

    re: #35 – In the coming months we may see the unholy union of Romney-Bachmann ticket. Wall St needs someone to bring in (sucker in) the Tea Party and the Religious Right to their cause.

  44. Barbara says:

    39. grim
    That was our math with 2,500 to 3,000 being the magic number. Of course, there is a DP in play and therefore at risk, so the timeline is crucial when deciding to buy or rent.

  45. gary says:

    Oblama is a smarmy f*ck. He thinks he’s the bomb when in reality, he’s a f*cking mope… a homer. He doesn’t realize it because it’s foggy way up on the Ivory Tower. Romney will get the nod but I don’t know if he can win. Clinton and Reagan had charisma, which is why deals got done. This guy we currently have in the Whitehouse talks, but no one is listening. Every time he moves, we go deeper into the quicksand. Time for a new direction… any direction than the current one.

  46. joyce says:


    the problem is people usually only listen to rhetoric and ignore the actions; if they paid attention to how people actually voted/lobbied they would notice that the two major parties are one in the same (on every major issue)

  47. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Grim 43 Agreed it is going to get ugly fast. Right in time for congress to go back and squabble over unemployment. They will go through the usual theatrics but in the end keep the 99 week deal. I would venture even the Repugs do not want to take the heat on cutting them. Once you give X amount it is very hard to take away.

  48. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Let me did up the latest food stamp number. One way or the you will pay.

  49. Brian says:

    Grim: 1202 sq ft? That has to be wrong. Where does it say that? Tax records? I don’t think it’s reflecting the addition of the dining room off the back, garage that was converted to a bedroom, 3 season room that was finished off, and second bathroom that was added. It sounds like that figure reflects the original square footage of the house.

  50. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Did= dig

  51. Mikeinwaiting says:

    More coffee; or the other

  52. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Juice Romney-Bachmann ticket, now that is a stretch.

  53. Juice Box says:

    Mike – allot will happen between now and August without a doubt, however nobody gets the nod from the GOP without the evangelicals because they are the GOP. They rejected Romney in 2008, went with Huckabee then switched to McCain/Palin. I would think the Wall St candidate who is without a doubt Romney needs someone to bring them in. There are few that fit the bill Bachmann is just one, she is polling about 10% in Iowa now and would give him the boost needed.

  54. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Brain 50 whatever the sq. ft. (400 more maybe) is the other guy is giving more cheaper. Please do not hang your hat on a garage converted to a bedroom. Look at my link in post 8, same price h8ll of a lot more house. Check out 259 SPRINGBROOK TRL , full basement with more square feet without it, (I added 400 to yours) at 179. I’m sorry but your parents are not getting that price. You came you asked, Grim gave you numbers as he has access I gave you a common sense perspective as a buyer. It is 199 if you are lucky, sorry.

  55. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Juice 54 strange bedfellows indeed.

  56. Anon E. Moose says:

    Grim [39];

    Know any flip-flop bagholders that might go for a $0 triple-net residential lease just to get the aligator away from their door? Owner gets to pretend that the asset is going to rise in value while renter covers basic carrying costs and enjoys the property.

  57. daddyo says:

    As a single family home renter in the Brig, I can attest to the 3k number. We have lived in our current place for 3 years, and just signed another 2 year lease. Originally listed at 3.5k per month, but we talked the owners into a sub-3k level because we moved in as the market was collapsing. It’s a nice house, but we could definitely use something bigger.

    We always look around for a larger rental, but unless we make the jump to 4.5k per month, there never seems to be an option. If I felt more secure in my current position, we would consider buying, but the equivalent purchase price of that 4.5k rental is probably lower 600’s, a bit of a stretch.

  58. XXX says:

    #38 FHA??

  59. Anon E. Moose says:

    Really? I got caught in moderation for THAT? Anyway…

    Gary [46];

    This guy we currently have in the Whitehouse talks, but no one is listening. Every time he moves, we go deeper into the quicksand. Time for a new direction… any direction than the current one.

    There’s a story about an old-time pilot nearing mandatory retirement who’s doing his 6-month recurrency check in the simulator. Check pilots like to throw all sorts of thing at a pilot in the sim that could never be practiced safely in real life, often multiple critical problems at once. So the story goes that some young buck check pilot thinks he’s going to get one over on the old timer, and really throws the works at him (engine fire, hydraulic failure, cabin pressure, etc.). So the [POINTY AND OF THE AIRPLANE] starts flashing like Hong Kong and the old timer takes out his manual pocket stopwatch and starts it running while he winds it. When the stopwatch hits 30 seconds, he looks up and addresses the problems calmly, dealing with every one as needed.

    The only fault the check airman can find with his performance is that he delayed in addressing the problems. When the check airman asked him why, the old pilot said “I never killed anybody by winding my watch.”

    If every move causes more problems (like we’re in quicksand), then we should stop moving. The thing that scares me about this election is that we really are in an “anybody but the current guy” mode, and A) I think that’s the worst possible way to elect a leader, and B) putting up some weak candidate who’s strongest appeal is “At least I’m not the other guy” on the thinking that a ham sandwich could out-poll Obama (in Borough Park, no less) is probably the best and only way that Obama gets re-elected.

  60. cobbler says:

    We still have too many houses around for a sustainable demand – especially assuming the move from 69% or so ownership rate to a reasonable 55-60%; so, until more houses rot away, get demolished or trashed by the squatters, the averages will be creeping down. It doesn’t mean that the “wealth pockets” won’t have localized up-markets, as the number of people who can [from the legitimately responsible underwriting point of view] afford 500K+ home declined very little from say 2005. Certainly, WS incomes and payrolls dropped, but there is still enough money in NJ to populate the “Top 50” or even “Top 100” towns. Counterbalancing this, there is little to stop decline in lower-tier towns.

  61. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [40] joyce,

    You can look at their positions on taxes and regulation for starters. Lots to chew on there. These are the most glaring. Then there’s healthcare, which Romney promises to undo, irrespective of the fact that he did it in Mass. FWIW, there is a meaningful distinction between state level health insurance (states regulate it after all) and federally mandated health insurance, and I buy his point that the states should decide what is right. For his critics, I would also point out that federal deference to the states on these issues is consistent with conservative principles as it permits market forces to inform states on what works and what doesn’t.

    On the social side, Obama is (as I predicted he would) undercutting DOMA by changing regulations to harmonize DPs and CUs with traditional marriage (he makes no secret of not only wanting to end DOMA, but paving the way to force DOMA states to recognize gay marriages from other states, thus vitiating their DOMA laws). At some point, he runs up against DOMA but is waiting for a democratic House and a second term before overturning it. He has also caused DoJ and HUD to focus more on expansion of civil rights into new areas, often to the detriment of other policy goals, some of them pressing. Romney would, understandably end this. Interestingly, Obama has done little on the abortion front, and I expect that Romney would do little there as well.

    This is the view from 10,000 feet. Want more granularity? You have to buy me drinks at a GTG.

  62. Brian says:

    55- Yeah got it. Lower the price. I read your post. I’m not naive. Clearly they need to do that. I was concerned the listing did not accurately reflect square footage and that might scare people off looking at it online. It’s normal for that area’s Arthur Crane homes to be a collections of many additions put on over time.

    So what are you waiting for anyway Mike?

  63. grim says:

    50 – Tax records. Now that I look at other homes on the street, the taxes are definitely on the low side (average is probably closer to 6500). Was the work done with permits?

  64. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    Jubak says to sell Amazon.


    I don’t disagree, but what I find interesting is that the biggest reason to sell Amazon is the 800 lb gorilla of sales tax policy yet Jubak never mentions it.

    Amazon is the retail version of Napster in a sense as it allows people to skirt sales tax collections. It will not be long before the states are able to pile onto Amazon and enforce sales tax collection, either up front or by forcing Amazon to name names, thus killing their business model. All they need is a democratic Congress and a second term for Obama, and Amazon will lose the significant advantage it enjoys over brick and mortar.

  65. grim says:

    but the equivalent purchase price of that 4.5k rental is probably lower 600′s, a bit of a stretch.

    Closer to $750k, the 4-handle on the mortgage really pushes down the PITI compared to say, a 6.

    Purchase: $750,000
    Mortgage: $600,000 (20% down)
    Interest Rate: 4.25%
    Taxes: $15,000
    PITI: $4,200 (Not including homeowners)

  66. Brian says:

    Grim – 64: I think my grandfather and his buddies did most of it decades ago. So, I don’t know. I was too young to remember or care.

  67. Anon E. Moose says:

    Seriously considering a property whose tax bill currently rivals the P+I, and would very likely exceed it during my ownership. This is the kind of insanity that this market will drive people to.

  68. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Brain 63 to get out of NJ! Have 1 more in school 4 more years I’m out of here. Sold all my RE 05&06 see no reason to jump in now.

  69. Juice Box says:

    History Rhymes again?

    Last time the Iranians mined the Strait of Hormuz we really walloped them, a guy I work with was in the Navy and the gulf at the time.


  70. Brian says:

    69 – Good deal. I bought all of mine in 06. Ouch. Yeah I’d like to move down south somewhere someday but I’m stuck here for a while. I told my wife I hope you like the neighbors because we’re gonna be here for a while. I’m so sick of the idiots. It’s even getting bad here in Sussex County. Did you hear about the knuckleheads that killed the Newton/Sparta road upgrade? What the heck is their problem? They can’t get anything done around here without all of the crazy obstructionists coming out of the woodwork. Here’s the Newton town manager trying to bring jobs to the area by attracting businesses and supporting infrastructure upgrade projects and the mentality of the Sparta people is that it will somehow wreck the town if they upgrade the road.

  71. joyce says:

    I appreciate your opinions. I can’t say that I agree with them. First, let’s dispense with Romney’s stance on social issues. I happen to believe “social” issues are none of the federal government’s business accordingly to the law and common sense. Regarding Romney, his stance on social issues and what the government’s role should be changes depending on which way the wind is blowing.

    Regarding healthcare, the fact that he thinks the government (whether state or federal) can compel you to participate in commerce via buying insurance through a private party or govt exchange speaks volumes about his ideals. He doesn’t oppose government tyranny if it’s done by him/his administration. Technically, it would be federal deference to the states – but make no mistake, market forces will not prevail. How many state/county/municipal monopolies do we currently have? A common example brought up is the fact that you can’t buy health insurance across state lines effectively creating a monopoly or oligopoly in one state. How do market forces penetrate that?

    Issues that I hold near and dear… Obama turned out to be (not surprisingly) a liar and fraud regarding foreign wars and civil liberties (patriot act, and now NDAA). Romney is openly advocating his support for all of these (and more) unconstitutional and unproductive wars… unproductive for the country not for the corporations. I remember Romney in the debate listing a few military projects that might not happen if the “proposed increase in the Defense Budget was trimmed” or as they like to claim if the budget was “cut” in Orwellian Newspeak.

    I’ve already mentioned above that the banksters would continue to dominate the government as in the past countless administrations.

    Romney has no credible plan to balance the budget. His plan is predicated on growth in the economy that won’t happen. It’s mathematically impossible. Sounds like Obama’s plan as well (imaginary growth some time a decade or so away).

    My opinions of course – but I see no worthwhile differences between Romney and Obama.

  72. cobbler says:

    nom [65]
    I wouldn’t be confident about the state sales taxes being make or break for the Internet retailers (including Amazon). I guess Amazon finance guys could give an answer e.g. by comparing per capita Amazon purchases from the states with and without sales tax (with the similar average incomes). I am surprised no analyst asks this question on their conference calls.

  73. Mikeinwaiting says:

    Brain I know the stretch in question, would help. I am in Vernon we have roads washed out that will stay that way all winter ,no money to fix. I guess this is a good thing, don’t spend money you don’t have. The joys of Sussex county.

  74. Mikeinwaiting says:

    “Mortgage rates trickled higher this week, with the 30-year fixed trending up 4 bps to 3.95% and the 15-year variety increasing 3 bps to 3.24%. ”
    Have lived through some rates that make this statement laughable. You would think houses would be flying off the shelves so to speak. For various reasons discussed here today this is obviously not the case.

  75. Brian says:

    74 – They secured the money ($25 mil) for the project from a federal grant in 2002. Everybody was ready to go. The newton town manager is bringing in businesses like Thorlabs, Dell Computer, other retailers, etc which might actually bring jobs to the area. At the last second, Sparta cites environmental concerns (they really don’t care it was just a tactic to kill the project) and there’s no time to remedy them because they need to break ground in a certain timeframe or the Feds want their money back. Here’s the government actually doing the job I expect it to do (build roads and infrastructure) and Sparta pulls this self destructive garbage. Now no one gets the improvements. Andover and Newton get screwed too. So, now we get nothing, and the county may be on the hook for the $500,000 already spent. Brilliant.

  76. John says:

    Price used to be the major issue in a home purchase – now we have to also contend with the issue of property taxes which are usually omitted from any affordability studies. One only has so much available on a monthly basis for “housing”. This is mortgage payment, property taxes, utilities, and sometimes association/condo fees. With property taxes almost having doubled over ten years and $12,000 a year or $1,000 a month being the norm that’s an extra $500 or so a month no longer available to the buyer. This translates into $100,000 or so off the price of the purchasing power of a home. The scary aspect is that barring some new math, property taxes will continue to go up, most likely at a 2% annual rate. Throw into the mix increasing food costs and energy costs with marginal wage increases its hard to understand how housing prices will increase in any significant amount or at all given they’re still out of whack by historic norms. A rental has appeal even if the monthly number is similar because you can leave when the lease is up. Homeowners have found selling and moving can take years and cause major disruptions of long term plans and retirements. People are thinking twice before buying in these times and getting stuck. Even 4% mortgage rates and 30% off peak prices are just not enough. Property taxes and everything else are not going down any time soon – only thing left is the price of the house. Seems to me another 20% down from here is not unreasonable. Houses need to be priced according to the times and not according to what the owner paid for it and “want” back.

  77. cobbler says:

    John [77]
    It doesn’t seem that the states with low property taxes have any better luck at recovering from RE slump than NJ, unless you’ve got any proof to the contrary. Ditto for the rent v. buy advantages: don’t forget that landlord’s property taxes are eventually paid by the tenants, otherwise the landlord will go bust…

  78. Anon E. Moose says:

    Cobbler [78];

    See my query above about $0 triple-net leasing… Tenant pays for the use, owner pays for the capital.

  79. John says:


    I suspect low property tax states don’t do any better because the wages to expenditures ratio is probably no better than here. Its not like they have an additional $1500 or so to spend on discretionary items. I think landlords will eventually be in trouble as they will not be able to pass on their costs of their business model at some point. It works now but for how much longer – you can only refinance and raise rent so much – at some point the numbers don’t work. Right now premium rents give the renter an out which has some appeal. A home owner can only get out, quite often only with a loss.

  80. John says:

    I think the 1999-2000 housing price levels are next and those numbers may well work for the market to stabilize and give buyers a reasonable amount of confidence to proceed.

  81. Anon E. Moose says:

    John [80];

    Actually, depending upon the measure, the calculus in lower-priced areas can be much worse. Take Monroe County, NY (Rochester). It has a horribly high property tax rate. That’s because the houses are typically about half the cost of the NYC metro area, but they provide middling to decent schools in the suburban areas. The problem is that you can’t pay a good teacher in Rochester half of what they make in the NYC metro. Sure they make less, but not half. So, on a percentage basis, the tax rate looks horrible; but in reality, on a dollars basis, they’re WAY ahead of the game.

  82. gary says:

    I think the 1999-2000 housing price levels are next and those numbers may well work for the market to stabilize and give buyers a reasonable amount of confidence to proceed.

    Without question, it’s a no-brainer.

  83. Anon E. Moose says:

    Juice [82];

    05/21/2010 Listed for sale $1,235,000

    I’ll have some of what he was smoking.

    As its priced now it seems much more in line with the neighborhood. Might take another $50k to get a deal done. http://www.zillow.com/homes/comps/52908851_zpid/

  84. gary says:

    Juice [82],

    $2000 a month in property taxes… omg… $2000 a month! And they’re riding the market down. 1.235 million to 849K, three different brokers and 400+ days on the market. Offer them 575K and tell them you’re doing them a favor by taking it off their hands against your better judgement.

  85. 1987 condo buyer says:

    Regarding real estate taxes, not all towns went crazy. I bought in 1993 and my taxes were $3,600 for a 3 bedroom ranch. Over last 18 years i added 1000 square feet and redid kitchen, current taxes are $7,975…. Not that i am happy with that amount but it is not like the crazy numbers being thrwn around, then again it is just a functional 4 bedroom (small) quarter acre plot expanded ranch.

    By the way, Grim was spot on in yesterday’s comments on the housing market in the early 90’s

  86. John says:

    Many people can’t buy because they can’t sell. Regardless of their purchasing power – it can only be unleashed if they get out of their (usually underwater) buy price. That eliminates many many potential buyers to stabilize the market. The only buyers to enter the market, unencumbered, are the first time buyers who are usually at a lower buy price point. It may well be when this buyer eventually moves up that the market will move on. Until then the majority is stuck unless they’re willing to take a hit, bought early on in the cycle (pre 1995 or so) or get lucky. I’m beginning to think that inflation is the antidote.

  87. joyce says:

    you want inflation?
    You’re salary never inflates as high in % terms as the cost of food/energy or housing in this case.

  88. joyce says:

    to continue:
    The answer is defaulting on the loans with the individuals repairing the savings (possibly declaring bankruptcy) and the bond holders taking losses (big losses).

  89. freedy says:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/print/442228 all time record/as the market rally continues .

    Anybody think wall street is fixed?

  90. John says:

    joyce 90

    Ultimately the problem is debt – there is to much of it – if we can now get our debt at lower rates, inflation later on will further minimize debt costs.

  91. John says:

    It’s only a loan if you plan on paying it back.

  92. joyce says:

    If your wages remain the same or very similar, the cost of everything you must buy goes up, debt payments remain fixed… are you sure you’re better off?

  93. Anon E. Moose says:

    Freedy [91];

    Nothing would make me happier that to cash out some panicky Boomers at cents on the dollar. Makes me want to buy.

  94. Juice Box says:

    re: #93 – Yeah, and we are busy transferring those deadbeat losses to the taxpayer. FED buys a trillion or so in MBS, Fannie and Freddie loaded up insuring 6 trillion in Mortgages, FHA is now stuffed with another trillion due to GWB’s FHA-Foward program.

    It was only a year ago that the government inducing Obama were very vocal about getting out of the mortgage business.

    Now it seems we are heading in the other direction Comrades……

    Inflation is coming whether we like it or not I am afraid…..

  95. Juice Box says:

    inducing = including

    damn spell checker

  96. Anon E. Moose says:

    1987 [87];

    Grim was spot on in yesterday’s comments on the housing market in the early 90′s

    Grim’s truest statement was when he said that 80% of “inventory” isn’t really for sale. If the dreamers aren’t willing to accept what the market will pay, then its just not for sale. For this I blame the listing agents. At some level, even a $200 MLS insertion fee is too much to spec for what amounts to a lottery ticket – an almost guaranteed loser.

  97. chicagofinance says:

    freed……ever heard of an ETF….the article makes a specious point…..

    freedy says:
    December 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm
    http://www.zerohedge.com/print/442228 all time record/as the market rally continues .
    Anybody think wall street is fixed?

  98. chicagofinance says:

    Princeton Brews Trouble for Us 1 Percenters: Michael Lewis
    By Michael Lewis
    Dec 28, 2011 7:00 PM ET

    To: The Upper Ones, From: The Strategy Committee, Re: The Alarming Behavior of College Students

    The committee has been reconvened in haste to respond to a disturbing new trend: the uprisings by students on elite college campuses.

    Across the Ivy League the young people whom our Wall Street division once subjugated with ease are becoming troublesome. Our good friends at Goldman Sachs, to cite one example, have been forced to cancel their recruiting trips to Harvard and Brown. At Princeton, 30 students masquerading as job applicants entered a pair of Wall Street informational sessions, asked many obnoxious questions (“How do I get a job lobbying the U.S. government to protect Wall Street interests?”), rose and chanted a list of charges at bankers from JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, and, finally, posted videos of their outrageous behavior on YouTube.

    The committee views this latter incident as a sure sign of trouble to come. The whole point of going to Princeton for the past several decades has been to get a job at Goldman Sachs or, failing that, JPMorgan. That Princeton students are now identifying their interests with the Lower 99 percenters is, in its way, as ominous as the return of the Jews to Jerusalem.

    Having fully investigated the incidents in question, we are now prepared to offer strategic recommendations. Going forward all big Wall Street banks, when visiting college campuses, should adopt the following tactics.

    No. 1. Send only women. You may not have fully understood why you hired them in the first place, but now is their moment to shine. For some time now the standard recruiting mission has included at least one woman and one person of color, to “season” the sauce. But typically, in the interests of keeping it “real,” there has been on the scene at least one white male recruiter.

    Anyone who studies the Princeton-JPMorgan video will see that we can no longer afford to keep it real. The camera passes forgivingly over the JPMorgan women — the viewer feels sorry for them, for some reason — and comes to rest on the lone white Morgan man. The viewer doesn’t feel sorry for him. Get him out of there. Now.

    No. 2. Having identified your female employees, gather them together to explain that they have no obligation to justify your behavior, even to themselves. They shouldn’t give college students the satisfaction of thinking that you have devoted so much as a passing thought to the following subjects: Why it is OK for Wall Street banks to create securities designed to fail; why it is OK for them to game the ratings companies; why it is OK to get paid huge sums of money while working for companies rescued, and still implicitly backed, by the U.S. government; why it is OK to subvert attempts by politicians to reform the financial system?

    Avoid taking questions from college students. For that matter, avoid engaging them in substantive conversation of any sort. Your women need to shift the conversation from content to form. They must say things like, “I don’t mind what you are saying, I just mind how you are saying it.” And “I don’t understand why you can’t treat other people with respect.”

    They must cast themselves not as extensions of a global financial empire but as guests. Everyone at Princeton can agree that it is wrong to be rude to ladies on a visit.

    Happily, many Princeton students, hiding behind aliases, have already taken up this cry on campus websites. Encourage those who still want to work for big Wall Street banks to blog and post our new defense. Don’t offer jobs to these students who agree to help, however. They are better suited to being Wall Street customers than Wall Street bankers.

    No. 3. Focus on what actually angers these angry young people, rather than what they say angers them. The character of Princeton students didn’t change overnight; what changed is their circumstances. They think they are pissed off at us because of what we did. They are actually pissed off at us because we can no longer afford to hire them all. To that end …

    No. 4. Engage, quietly, with the ringleaders. Of course, all variations of the Occupy movement claim to be leaderless. We on the committee aren’t buying this. With the possible exception of Bank of America, there is no such thing as a leaderless organization, only organizations in which the leaders operate in the shadows.

    Sources inside inform us that one of the leaders of the Princeton-JPMorgan protest — the young man who led the so- called “mic check” — is a comparative literature major named Derek Gideon. Sources further indicate that for his senior thesis Mr. Gideon is writing — get this — a poem.

    This poem of his apparently leaves him with a great deal of time and energy to stir up trouble.

    “My goal is to change the dominant campus culture,” he has been quoted saying, “the culture that assumes that going to work for Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan is the most prestigious thing you can do, without having any critical sense of their current role in society. We’re very privileged to be here. We’re getting an incredible education. All just for us to be sending 30 percent, 40 percent of our graduates to the finance sector?”

    Unsurprisingly, Mr. Gideon doesn’t know precisely what he is going to do with his life after he graduates. This young man strikes the committee as an ideal candidate for a job at Goldman Sachs. Yes, in our experience, even the Gideons of this world can be persuaded. After all, what better way for him to improve our behavior than to become one of us? Put that way, he almost has an obligation to take his natural resting place among us.

    As awkward as it is to find ourselves in a war with students inside our own trade schools, we cannot simply cease to deal with them. After all, many are our own children. Disinheritance is messy. And, anyway, what’s the point of winning the estate-tax battle if we have no heirs?

    More important, the students at Ivy League schools are our most devastating ammunition in this looming cultural war. They show the Lower 99 that today’s economic inequality isn’t some horrible injustice but a financial expression of the natural order of man. The sort of people who become Upper Ones are inherently different from the sort of people who become Lower 99s. The clearest sign of this inherent difference is that we begin our adult life by getting into places like Princeton.

    Win the battle at Princeton and we might still win this war.

    (Michael Lewis, most recently author of “Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World,” is a columnist for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

  99. John says:

    94 joyce

    You’re right as we won’t be better off, but default is pushed further back. The current economy is seemingly based on “making the minimum payment” hoping debt can be perpetually rolled over. This may be the Federal Reserve’s game plan in a nutshell: don’t write off any debt, as that would reveal the banking sector’s insolvency, but play extend-and-pretend with our debtloads by lowering the cost of servicing the debt.

  100. Barbara says:

    98. anon
    Been saying this for years. another market askew, fantasy listings. I stopped looking for about a year simp,y because I was tired of getting inside a d c,ear,y having my ti e wasted. then trulia came online. Yay.

  101. Barbara says:

    RE: listings and square footage. I just checked the house I closed on in Sept, the square footage is off by over 1,000 and I know it’s not a tax record issue. Off as in smaller. Weird.

  102. John says:

    btw – the word crisis is reserved for those moments when bank investors are facing haircuts.

  103. Juice Box says:

    re # 100 – Chi – I am surprised they weren’t complaining about the lack of signing bonuses.

  104. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    Most of these are not conceptually the same as my idea for a Nompound, but here are some Nompound communities already in existence in the U.S.


  105. 30 year realtor says:

    #98 Moose – Estate seller is listed for 5 months starting at $239,000. One reduction of $10,000 after 60 days on market. Executor calls me and tells me he wants to list with me when listing expires, will I come over and take a look. Best offer they had was $150,000.

    I meet the executor at the house. Unusual and in need of updating and repair is the kind way to describe the house. When questioned I tell the executor I will be lucky to get him another offer of $150,000 and he should list for $159,900. We will know within a couple of weeks if 150 is possible and if you get close you should accept it.

    The house is listed at $169 and after 3 weeks on the market I have a cooperating offer of $150. Seller will not accept the offer, siblings want $160,000. Counter offer at $165 and buyer refuses to budge. Seller refuses to come down.

    Seller will not accept market value. Property is not really on the market. Who is at fault?

  106. funnelcloud says:

    Grim #30
    So with everything that’s happened to the housing markets, Banks, stock market, 401k’s, big business Job loss and all the theft thats occurred in the last 4 year, you absolutely believe that rental markets price increases are completely based on current supply and demand conditions and cannot or are not be manipulated in any way in an attempt to try to create a market demand. Maybe in your area but not in warren or sussex county.

  107. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [72] Joyce,

    Feel free to disagree. I don’t mind (or care, but that implies disdain and I really don’t have much disdain for people here, even Fabius).

    And if the effort to convince seemed half-hearted, that is on purpose. I don’t try to convince people of anything because it’s sort of like handing out free advice–The wise don’t need it and fools won’t heed it. I lay out facts and opinions, and if those aren’t enough to convince, then either they are right and I am wrong or vice versa. Truth will out soon enough.

    I take comfort in the fact that I have been right more much more often than not.

  108. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [100] chifi

    Must be a winner if he’s on linkedin:


  109. Comrade Nom Deplume says:

    [100] chifi

    Get this. He is really among the prestigious numeraled and initialed: “M. Derek Gideon” All that is missing is “, III”


    I recall that Grisham wrote in “The Rainmaker” that those students who were unlikely to aspire to the larger firms were the “pitifully uninitialed and unnumeraled.”

    And all of that reminds me of a cartoon from the early 80’s of a student holding up two signs. One said “NO NUKES*” and the other said “*Unless you can give me a job in the industry.”

  110. SX says:

    100. Pure satire….Lewis wants to see Wall St. crumble….

    There are reasons to hate every big institution, but lemme tell you….there are lots of reasons to love em!

  111. Anon E. Moose says:

    30-yr [107]

    The house is listed at $169…

    By whom? Did the executor or the heirs list it by themselves and you were just an innocent bystander? No, I think you listed it at $169k because, hey ya’ never know… it only takes one sucker… or you wanted to be the guy holding the listing contract when the sellers capitulated.

    I’m not out to slag you for overpricing it by 19 grand (even relatively speaking, its only 12% over the best offer), but $239k? Who pissed that number in the kids ears?

    Besides, what ever happend to putting “firm” in a listing? If the seller is fishing, and so am I, I’ll play the game. If they are digging in their heels, the say so in the listing and save everybody the time and trouble. Actually, I’d prefer that the overpriced listing, in this case $239k, say “Donald J. Chump, Jr., seller”, but that’s just one man’s opinion.

    Does a seller want to show their house or sell it? Why would they even want some “lookie-lou” or whatever term you want to use in the biz traipsing through the house if its not going to foreseeably lead to a sale?

  112. grim says:

    None of the N.J. Based sears stores are closing?

  113. chicagofinance says:

    The End is Nigh (Flying Body Parts and Commuter Edition):
    An appeals court has ruled that a young man killed in the Chicago area by a speeding train can be sued by a woman who was injured after being struck by a flying piece of his body, according to a local report.

    Hiroyuki Joho, 18, was rushing through the rain to catch a Metra commuter train in Edgebrook at around 8 a.m. on Sept. 13, 2008, when he was struck and killed by an Amtrak train clocking more than 70 miles per hour, the Chicago Tribune reports.

    Part of his body was thrown more than 100 feet, where it hit Gayane Zokhrabov, 58, who was waiting on a nearby platform for her train to work.

    Zokhrabov fell, breaking her wrist and leg and injuring her shoulder.

    Zokhrabov later sued Joho’s estate, but a Cook County judge threw out the lawsuit, ruling that the young victim couldn’t be held responsible for Zokhrabov’s injuries, the Tribune reported.

    A state court has shot down that ruling, calling the gruesome and bizarre details of the case “reasonably foreseeable.”

    Leslie Rosen, Zokhrabov’s lawyer, told the Tribune that the “gory and creepy” details of the case didn’t excuse the teen victim’s negligence.

    “If you do something as stupid as this guy did, you have to be responsible for what comes from it,” she said.

    Joho’s mother sued the railway for not alerting riders that the Metra train was delayed that morning, but lost.

  114. NjescaPee says:

    Looks like half of NY / NJ is in Key West this weekend. It’s too crowded now jeez

  115. 30 year realtor says:

    #113 Moose – My responsibility is to recommend and advise, the seller decides on the price. If the price is totally out of whack with reality I don’t want to be involved but in this case at 159 or 169 it was still the lowest priced house in the town by more than $20,000. Setting proper expectation was more important than getting the perfect list price.

    We are on the same page regarding agents who do not set proper expectation and repeatedly accept grossly overpriced listings. Agents like that make people like you believe all agents are a**holes.

  116. Shore Guy says:

    So, Wast Palm is going to lose it’s K-Mart. There goes the property values.


  117. Shore Guy says:

    “None of the N.J. Based sears stores are closing?”

    I think it is just a matter of the list not being completed yet.

  118. Shore Guy says:

    “Price used to be the major issue in a home purchase – now we have to also contend with the issue of property taxes which are usually omitted from any affordability studies.”

    Bingo! We were about to buy a place up in the NY Finger Lakes until we realized that the taxes on the place were way higher than even in well–off suburbs in NJ. Even with low enrollments, the cost of teachers, maintaining the physical plant, and transportation costs (none of which are likely to stay flat) drove taxes through the roof. I am pretty sure that our next RE purchase will be in N.C.

  119. Confused in NJ says:

    115.grim says:
    December 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm
    None of the N.J. Based sears stores are closing

    List isn’t complete, that’s the first 79 of (100-120).

  120. AG says:


    Axiously waiting the 2012 predictions thread. I have in store the doomiest prediction that this site has ever seen. You better get armed.

  121. AG says:

    Waiting for the 2012 prediction thread.

    This will be the doomiest of all predictions.

    Its pretty much over folks. No more advice will be given. You have all been warned to decipher truth from bullsh_t.

  122. Shore Guy says:

    Do any of the landlords here have any thoughts on this?


  123. Fabius Maximus says:

    #42 spyderjacks

    Amen, I was preaching that back in 2008. The GOP has spun so far right, it will take a long time for them to find their way back from the wilderness. O has always been a lock for 2012, people are just waking up to it. The economy will be in some sort of recovery or stability by 2016 so the D nominee will ride that and won’t repeat the Gore mistakes. That leaves 2020 for the GOP to realize that they they need to come to the middle to win.

    Caveat: ff Hilary goes in 2016, push that to 2024 for the GOP.

  124. Anon E. Moose says:

    Fab [127];

    The GOP has spun so far right, it will take a long time for them to find their way back from the wilderness. O has always been a lock for 2012, people are just waking up to it. The economy will be in some sort of recovery or stability by 2016 so the D nominee will ride that and won’t repeat the Gore mistakes. That leaves 2020 for the GOP to realize that they they need to come to the middle to win.

    If the GOP has spun so far to the right, how is it that their leading primary candidate has implemented his own state-level version of Obamacare and refuses to back away from it even in the face of overwhelming sentiment from a majority of all people (more so among republican voters) that Obamacare must go. That’s my biggest concern about Mitt, he would get both houses of congress of his own party and still sell out the momentum to kill Obamcare in a Boston minute.

    The only way Obama wins in 2012 is if the republicans run an “Anybody but Obama” candidate. If they run someone/anyone who’s worth voting FOR, they win.

    Your long range memory filter is a bit fuzzy, it seems… by 2000 Clinton’s personally was toxic to anyone but Bill (Clinton Fatigue, I think it was called). Bill sucked up all the oxygen in any room he was in, because it was always about him. Bringing him in to campaign for you got you overshadowed and forgotten, not elected. Al Gore didn’t have nearly enough charisma to pull off Bill’s loveable rouge routine.

    The rest of your “forward looking statements” are quite hopeful and unmoored.

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