Thursday, September 27, 2007

Foxtons Bites the Dust

Realtors have been predicting for some time that the first casualty of a Real Estate downturn would be that not so big "Green Monster."

Foxtons, a Long Branch-based real estate company that made a splash with its discounted commissions, said Wednesday night it is shutting down.

With a backlog of 4400 active listings, the 8 year old company said it is contemplating bankruptcy for an orderly shutdown, and it will continue only with a skeleton crew, laying off 350 of its 380 employees.

As The Asbury Park Press put it:
The decision marks the latest casualty in the softening real estate industry, and it brings a stunning end to a company that was a lightning rod among real estate agencies.

The unresolved question is the fate of the 4400 sellers who remain legally tied to Foxtons until their listing agreements expire. These long term agreements may be considered "assets" in a bankruptcy filing. Their homes can only be shown by appointments made by the few remaining employees. That's about 130 sellers per employee.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Summer's Last Stand

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Paving Paradise--The Hidden Costs of Free Parking

"We've had a big interest in this area for a while now, but it's not been well studied," says an official with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who requested anonymity because he did not have permission to speak to the press. "It's the amount of water, the speed and temperature of it pouring off these oceans of asphalt we have in this country, that concern us. And that's not even talking about the contamination washing off all that asphalt."
Continue reading from The Christian Science Monitor

On the other hand, if you need to park in NYC, this new site may smooth the way.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Don't Count on Your Home for Retirement Cushion

from The Wall Street Journal Online:

If the current turmoil in the housing and credit markets tells us anything about retirement planning, it should be this: Think twice about how big a role your home will play in subsidizing your future.

If the value of your home falls -- which many Americans had come to assume would never happen -- there's less equity to help finance your retirement.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bipartisan Group of NJ Congressmen Get Perfect Score On Environment

Trenton – A majority of New Jersey’s Congressmen voted for the environment 100% of the time in the 109th Congress in a bipartisan manner, according to the annual Congressional Scorecard on major environmental issues released today by Environment New Jersey.

Environment New Jersey is releasing its annual scorecard as part of its national campaign to pass legislation through both houses of Congress requiring at least 15% of our electricity to come from clean, renewable energy sources by 2020.

“A majority of New Jersey’s Congressmen time and again have stood up to the White House and done what’s right for the environment,” said Matt Elliott, Environment New Jersey’s global warming and clean energy advocate. “Being green in the Garden State is a bipartisan issue and we applaud our delegation’s environmental heroes.”

New Jersey Congressmen who scored 100% on the scorecard included Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2), Rep. Jim Saxton (R-3), Rep. Chris Smith (R-4), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6), Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8), Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-12).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Give It Up for Digivity

In what's seen as a sad commentary on modern life to some, a survey out today reports that we're becoming so dependent on our web lives that we're giving up face-to-face time friends and even sex to keep connected.

The survey of more than 1,000 American adults reports, among other findings that:
- Asked how long they would be OK without Web access: 15 percent of respondents said less than a day; 21 percent said a couple of days; 19 percent said a few days
- 48 percent said they "felt something important was missing" without Internet access
- 28 percent admit spending less time face-to-face with peers because of the amount of time they spend online
- 20 percent say they spend less time having sex because of time spent online.

JWT, the advertising agency that conducted the study, has created a new advertising demographic - 'digivity denizens' - describing people whose lives are profoundly connected to the web, those "whose online and offline lives are co-mingled and who would chose a Wi-Fi connection over TV any day," as JWT trend spotting director Ann Mack describes them.

Is that unhealthy? Perhaps, but it also can be more engaging, thought-provoking and interactive than TV has ever been.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

5 Ways to Cash in on the Fed Rate Cut

From U.S. News & World Report:
Mortgages, home equity lines of credit, auto loans, credit card rates, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts can all be influenced by changes in short-term interest rates set by the Federal Reserve. But don't count on getting a lower interest rate; first, read the fine print in whatever contract you're signing.
Here are 5 ways to make it work:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Land Use: Why Plan?

Here's an interesting article by Robert Sherwood in Open Space Magazine on how Land Use has evolved over the centuries. It focuses on Oregon's former Governor Tom McCall's influence on striking a balance between private and public interests in environmental planning. It was during his tenure in office (1967-1975) that Oregon gained its reputation as a national leader in innovative public policy.

He came up with the legendary warning:
"We want you to visit our State of Excitement often. Come again and again. But, for heaven's sake, don't move here to live."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

We've Moved!

As you may have noted from the mini-profile to the right, we're still associated with Century 21, but our Suffix/Office/Franchise holder has changed from Gemini to Van Der Wende. Our home remains in Bloomfield, but our home base has moved 3 miles up the road to Little Falls.
This is partly because more of our buyers currently are actively looking for homes in this area as well as the fact that Century 21 Van Der Wende is the number 1 Century 21 office in North Jersey.
Coincidentally, EcoRealty has just moved up to #14 in the "Influence Index" of NJ Blognet's list of "Political Blogs." We've tried to limit our politics to the Wikipedia subtext:
"The process by which groups of people make decisions....politics is observed in all human group interactions."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lockup Your Cats -- and Kids

We've had documented reports of bears, foxes, hawks, and wild turkeys in these parts.
The latest to cause concern is the Wile E. coyote. South Orange's community forum has gone wild this week with multiple sightings of coyotes along with the nearby remains of at least one dead cat. There have even been close calls with small children.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Interest Rates Remain Low

According to our Century 21 Mortgage Center, fixed 30 year interest rates appear to be stabilizing after a month long slide.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Good Deeds

After five years of memorials, many are looking for ways to commemorate 9/11
without turning it into a numbing ritual. We like the idea behind My Good Deed.
You can register and share what you've done with others, or stay anonymous and be inspired by the good vibes. 9/11 related groups are here.
These are some of the Non-profit Groups that can always use help.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Where the Grass is Greener and Higher

If a solar roof isn't cutting edge enough, you could always add the ultimate in green roofs. All you'll need to know about the ups and downs of these cool slopes--including how to mow it-- can be found here.
Spectacular examples of all kinds of green roofs can be found as close by as Battery Park City.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Slogan to Remember?

The Star Ledger reports that the top vote-getter in the election to pick a slogan for Cedar Grove's centennial was "A Century of Memories."

The victor, with 193 of the 350 votes cast, had seesawed with "A Place to Call Home" in recent weeks but surged ahead in the final 10 days and will headline the suburban Essex County community's 100th anniversary in 2008.

"We have a winner," Cindie Newkirk, co-chair of the 33-member Cedar Grove Centennial Committee, said after paper ballots as well as e-mail votes were counted.
"A Century of Memories" ultimately beat "A Place to Call Home" by 82 votes, garnering 193 to the runner-up's 111.
The other four contenders trailed far behind, with "We've Only Just Begun" getting 20 votes; "Only Getting Better," 12; and "Thanks for the Century" and "A Celebration" holding up the rear with 10 votes each.

In the weeks leading up to the Sept. 1 deadline for submitting ballots, not everyone was wedded to the six choices fielded by the centennial overseers.

Once word of the slogan contest began, the Cedar Grove forum on lighted up with some tongue-in-cheek offerings reflective of small-town living: "Pull Over and Step Away from Your Car"; "Cedar Grove: Country Living with City Traffic"; and "Verona Wannabees."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Slow Homes

"Suburban sprawl is like fast food; cheap and easy but also unsatisfying and boring." says the intro Slow Home, which says "takes its name from the slow food movement which arose as a reaction to the processed food industry. In the same ways that slow food helps people learn how to become more familiar and involved with the food they eat, Slow Home provides design focused information to empower individuals to step beyond the too fast world of cookie cutter housing. "The ten steps to better housing are an excellent guide to sustainable living.