Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10 Things Your Real Estate Broker Won't Say

1. “Your open house is really just a networking party for me.”

Hire a real estate broker to sell your home, and one of the first things he’ll likely suggest is hosting an open house so that potential buyers can casually check out your property on a weekend afternoon. But while open houses are promoted as a great way of finding a buyer, a National Association of Realtors study found that their success rate is quite slim.

No matter. Holding an open house serves another important purpose—for the broker. “It gives him a database of clients,” says Sean McNeill, an independent real estate broker based in New York City who says that he doesn’t like open houses, preferring to match clients with appropriate buyers. “At open houses, you get all kinds of people walking in. Some are [trying] to see how much they should sell their own places for; others just want to get a look at what’s out there.” All are perfect pickings for a broker looking to increase his roster of buyers and sellers. “Think about it,” McNeill says. “The broker is devoting a couple hours of a weekend. He won’t do that unless it helps him in a big way.” But it doesn’t necessarily mean that a seller should forego an open house altogether—says McNeill, “It’s still a real good way to showcase your house.”

2. “My fees are negotiable.”

Brokers like to make it sound as if their fees are engraved in stone, but that’s rarely the case. During the housing bubble, for example, as the number of brokers sharply increased, so did the competition for listings—one broker says he lowered his fee by a full percentage point just to give himself an edge.
The broker we spoke with, who asked not to be named, says that sellers should always shop around for better terms and has some suggestions for the best conditions to induce brokers to lower their fees: “If somebody’s willing to commit to me for selling one place and buying another,” or “If you’re in a particularly desirable neighborhood with a house that will bring a lot of traffic” for an open house. And with a lot of smaller brokers, he says, “all you need to do is ask and they’ll lower the commission. (more)

Former China Adviser: US Dollar Is 'One Step Nearer' to Crisis

The U.S. dollar is “one step nearer” to a crisis as debt levels in the world’s largest economy increase, said Yu Yongding, a former adviser to China’s central bank.

Any appreciation of the dollar is “really temporary” and a devaluation of the currency is inevitable as U.S. debt rises, Yu said in a speech in Singapore today.

“Such a huge amount of debt is terrible,” Yu said. “The situation will be worsening day by day. I think we are one step nearer to a U.S.-dollar crisis.”

Yu also said China is worried about the safety of its foreign-exchange reserves including those invested in U.S. Treasuries as the U.S. currency weakens, reiterating his earlier views on the dollar assets. The U.S. will record a $1.3 trillion budget deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the Congressional Budget Office said Aug. 19.

The estimated budget deficit for this fiscal year would be equivalent to 9.1 percent of gross domestic product, the CBO said. That would make it the second-largest shortfall in 65 years, exceeded only by the 9.9 percent in 2009. (more)

Jay Taylor: Turning Hard Times Into Good Times

click here for audio

On the Brink of a Secular Bull Market in Precious Metals

In our “Commentary on Gold” dated November 11, 2008, we made some outlandish claims about the lack of performance by three undisputed experts on gold. One claim that we made was that “…when the price of stocks fall so too does the price of gold, and to a greater degree, gold & silver stocks.” This was said after the precious metals and the XAU and HUI indexes had already hit their final lows on October 24, 2008 and October 27, 2008 respectively. We demonstrated our claim through research performed by David Marantette which showed that from 1975 to 2001, declines of 10% or more in the Dow Jones Industrial Average resulted in larger declines in the gold stock indexes and the price of gold. We completed the research by providing the data from 2001 to 2007.

The point of our December 9, 2008 article was best summed up in our closing paragraph:
“The long term trend in gold and silver stocks as demonstrated by the Philadelphia Gold Stock Index (XAU), which was initiated in November 2000, will eventually head permanently higher. The continuation of that trend will be among the key indicators that the bear market in stocks is at or near an end.” (more)

Meredith Whitney: Next Shoe to Drop Is Municipal Bonds Markets

(more here)

How Realistic Is $5,000 Gold?

Taking into account 11 key measurements based on historical movements and price ratios, gold is likely to exceed $5,000 and silver is likely to exceed $200 within the next 5 years. If silver reverts to its historical ratio of 16 to 1 with gold, then it could rise even higher. Let me explain. Words: 795

So says Chris Mack ( in a recent article* which Lorimer Wilson, editor of, has reformatted into edited [...] excerpts below for the sake of clarity and brevity to ensure a fast and easy read. (Please note that this paragraph must be included in any article reposting to avoid copyright infringement.) Mack goes on to say:

In recent weeks gold and silver have broken through their multi-month consolidation levels, and investors are wondering where the precious metals are headed. On a short term basis both gold and silver are overbought and due for a correction that may retest the breakout levels of $1,250 on gold and $20 on silver.

$1,500 Gold and $30 Silver By 2011
On a longer term basis, gold is at an all time high and silver is at a 30 year high. These breakout levels were key because they removed any supply of sellers wanting to sell near their previous purchase prices. The result will be a vacuum in price discovery, because virtually any investor in gold and silver now has a profitable trade and the price will have to rise until enough of these investors decide to take gains. Projecting from the size of the consolidation in precious metals the next key level where sellers arise could be near $1,500 gold and $30 silver by 2011. (more)

Chart of the Day

Peak Oil? Why not Peak Water,

Peak Oil? Why not Peak Water, after all, water is much more crucial to life than oil ever will be and it's being consumed in vast quantities by the same economic system that chows oil?

In fact, water is a far more potent and relevant symbol of the way capitalism chows the planet than is oil. Although it too is a finite resource, it also a renewable resource through the process of recycling, something that is done by nature in another of its amazing cycles that keep (kept?) the biosphere stable; what we call homeostasis where life, chemistry, physics and geology all meet. Water is thus far more symbolic of the irrationality of capitalist production than is oil, where even a renewable resource is consumed by capitalism.

This is why I just cannot get my head around the fact some on the left (who I think should know better) are buying into the 'peak oil' BS. 'Running out of oil' is essentially a problem for capitalism, but not for you and me. In fact, 'running out of oil' maybe a blessing in disguise. Just think, we could once again be living in a world without plastic bags![1]

Clearly, oil and gas are non-renewable resources[2] but then so is every other element, mixture and compound present on Earth.[3] What makes oil so important is its centrality to capitalist production and especially its ability to wage war, that's why there's all the fuss about it[4]. But why has the left bought into this 'peak oil' BS? (more)

Faber: "Accumulate Gold and Keep it as Cash"

Taleb Bullish on Canada

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration weakened the country’s economy by seeking to foster growth instead of paying down the federal debt, said Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan.”

“Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done,” Taleb said yesterday in Montreal in a speech as part of Canada’s Salon Speakers series. “He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse.”

Today, Taleb said, “total debt is higher than it was in 2008 and unemployment is worse.”

Obama this month proposed a package of $180 billion in business tax breaks and infrastructure outlays to boost spending and job growth. That would come on top of the $814 billion stimulus measure enacted last year. The U.S. government’s total outstanding debt is about $13.5 trillion, according to Treasury figures. (more)

15 Bone Chilling Signs That Part Two Of The Double Dip Housing Crash Has Begun

These are harrowing times for anyone trying to sell a home or for anyone who is trying to make a living in the housing industry. But unfortunately, there are a whole lot of signs that things are about to get quite a bit worse. U.S. home sales have hit record lows in recent months. An increasing number of sellers have started to reduce their asking prices, and there are signs that home prices are already starting to slip substantially in many areas of the country. Meanwhile, the inventory of unsold homes in the United States continues to rapidly increase. Home foreclosures and bank repossessions of homes continue to set all-time records. What this all means is that the U.S. housing market is being absolutely flooded with homes for sale at a time when there are very few buyers. There is way too much supply and not nearly enough demand and as a result home prices are being pressured downward. The home buyer tax credits that the U.S. government was bribing home buyers with helped stabilize the U.S. housing market for a while, but now the tax credits have expired and things are getting scary out there.

In a previous article about this housing crisis, I detailed how there simply is not going to be a "recovery" in the U.S. housing market until there is a jobs recovery. But at this point, even the most optimistic cheerleaders for the economy are admitting that unemployment is going to remain high for quite some time.

But if the American people do not have good jobs then they can't buy homes. (more)