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Roy Sanborn - Good buys

There were 54 sales in January in the Lakes Region communities covered by this real estate market report. The average sales price was $189,399 and the median price came in at $169,430. I thought that was pretty dismal until I looked at last January's sales numbers and realized we only had 48 sales then. Even though last January's average sales price was higher at $295,068 and the median price was $184,500, right now I'll take the higher activity level as we need to keep the inventory levels down.
There appeared to be some pretty good buys last month. I'm not talking about the after Christmas sales at the mall, but good buys on all kinds of Lakes Region real estate. For example, there is a property at 536 Endicott Street in Laconia which is across from the Funspot parking lot that was owned by Freddie Mac. It sold for a mere $38,500, which was just 25 percent of its assessed value of $152,100! I can't say much about the house as I haven't seen it and there really isn't much info in the MLS, but what the heck, it is a four bedroom, two bath cape built in 1958 on a .98 acre commercially zoned lot with public sewer. Seems like this was a great buy regardless of the condition of the home?
A property in HUD's vast stable of foreclosed properties sold at 19 Westview Drive in Laconia for $99,500, or just 50 percent of its assessed value of $199,500. This is a 1965 vintage, three bedroom, two bath ranch, with 1,640-square-feet of living space, and a two car garage that sits on a .53 acre lot with views of Lake Winnisquam. Water views at $99,500? As with most bank owned or HUD owned properties there wasn't a lot of effort given by the listing agent to describe or to give any info on this property. He was pretty adept, however, at letting you know that the property is being sold "in as-is condition," that the "property is sold AS IS AS SEEN," and "neither the owner or the agent makes warranties or representations." Despite having to deal with the Sergeant Shultz mentality of "I Know Nothiiinngg," this was probably a pretty good deal with some good upside potential for the buyer.
Also in Laconia, over at 139 Eastman Shore Road North, someone got a great deal on a nice 1,978-square-foot, three bedroom, one-and-three-quarter-bath ranch. This home was built in 2003 and was in "turn-key" condition. This home was light and bright and features an open floor plan, a kitchen with a pantry and office area, a living room with a soap stone gas stove, a finished walk out lower level, a four season room finished in pine, bedrooms with cathedral ceilings, a farmers porch, and a two car garage. This home sits on a 2-acre lot with beach rights to Winnisquam. Unlike the previous two homes, this home was owner occupied, so the buyer got the all the property disclosures to help him get comfortable with his purchase. And based on the fact that the new owner bought the property for just $176,000 or 75 percent of its assessed value of $236,100 and $43,000 less than the original asking price, I bet he is pretty comfortable!
If you like older homes with charm and character you would have liked the property at 528 Cherry Valley Road in Gilford. Built in 1928, this 3,642-square-foot, four bedroom, three and a half bath cape has large bright rooms, cathedral ceilings, exposed beams, two fireplaces, hardwood and tile floors, a first floor master suite, a walkout finished lower level with game room, large deck, a detached two car garage, and great views of Winnipesaukee. The house sits on a well landscaped 2.29-acre lot near the Gunstock Recreation Area. This home was originally listed back in 2008 at $489,000, but this go around it came on the market at $274,000 and sold for $274,000 which is 78 percent of the assessed value of $350,170. What a difference a few years and a few hundred thousand dollars makes...
Last week I wrote about the "unexpected" low number of sales on Winnipesaukee in January. That was just one sale, by the way. Well, I got an "unexpected" e-mail from an agent that read the column and she was sure that the waterfront listing she sold at 301 Trask Side Road in Alton was the one I would have described. Unfortunately, that property was not included in my report because she omitted a key piece of data when she entered it in the MLS. In the MLS you indicate the type of water access that a property has from a drop down menu with choices such as "owned," "shared," or "ROW." This field was overlooked and left blank on this listing so it was not picked up in the search. So anyway, "unexpectedly," this listing doubled the number of sales on Winnipesaukee in January to two! This home is a 1965 vintage, 3,164-square-foot, six bedroom, three bath contemporary ranch with two completely separate living areas and kitchens. The house features an open floor plan, two stone fireplaces, lots of natural wood work including wood ceilings, and more importantly lots of glass to bring in the big lake sunset views. This home sits on a .6 acre lot with 144-feet of level frontage with two docks and a lake side deck. The sale also included a 6 acre lot across the street.
So, I do feel a little better that we had two sales instead of one, but not really, really great as we need more. But, I also heard from the buyer of that property about how happy he was to be on Winnipesaukee. As a matter of fact, he said, "We feel Great! As it is a terrific house in a fantastic location. I refer to it as box seats on the forty yard line of the big lake!" And I think he got a good deal to boot. This property was listed at $879,000 with a tax assessment of $845,900 and was purchased for $785,000. A good deal and a very, very happy buyer! Now that's what I call great!
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled as of 2/19/13 using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Roche Realty Group and can be reached at 603-677-8420

Last Updated on Friday, 01 March 2013 22:55

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Michelle Malkin - The court jesters of sequester

Traffic alert: There's a massive clown car pileup in the Beltway. And with the White House court jesters of sequester behind the wheel, no one is safe. Fiscal sanity, of course, is the ultimate victim.
President Obama has been warning America that if Congress allows mandatory spending "cuts" of a piddly-widdly 2 percent to go into effect this week, the sky will fall. The manufactured crisis of "sequestration" was Obama's idea in the first place. But that hasn't stopped the Chicken Little in Chief from surrounding himself with every last teacher, senior citizen and emergency responder who will be catastrophically victimized by hardhearted Republicans. Curses on those meanie Republicans! How dare they acquiesce to the very plan for "cuts" — or rather, negligible reductions in the explosive rate of federal spending growth — that Obama himself hatched?
How low will the kick-the-can Democrats go? Among the ridiculous claims the administration is making: The National Drug Intelligence Center will lose $2 million from its $20 million budget. That scary factoid appears in an ominous Office of Management and Budget report purporting to calculate the Sequester Disaster. So lock the doors and hide the children, right?
Wrong. As Reason magazine's Mike Riggs points out, the NDIC shut down in June 2012, and some of its responsibilities were absorbed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Ready for more reckless, feckless farce? Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano played Henny Penny during a panicked speech at the Brookings Institution Tuesday. She warned that her agency's "core critical mission areas" would be undermined by the sequester. To cynically underscore the point, "waves" of illegal aliens were released this week from at least three detention centers in Texas, Florida and Louisiana, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed the release of some illegal immigrants Monday night, but would not say how many or from which detention centers.
The real punch line, as I've reported relentlessly, is that the catch and release of criminal illegal aliens has been bipartisan standard operating procedure for decades. The persistent deportation and removal abyss allows hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens — many of them known repeat criminal offenders — to pass through the immigration court system and then disappear into the ether because we have no determined will to track them down and kick them all out of the country.
While Napolitano shrieks about decimation of the DHS workforce, DHS workers tell me that the double-dipping of retired ICE brass — who get back on the payroll as "rehired annuitants" — is rampant.
While this open-borders White House phonily gnashes its teeth over the sequester's effect on national security, its top officials are lobbying for a massive nationwide amnesty that would foster a tsunami of increased illegal immigration for generations to come. The shamnesty beneficiaries will be welcomed with open arms, discounted college tuition, home loans and ObamaCare. And as every outraged rank-and-file border agent will tell you, DHS top officials have instituted systemic non-enforcement and sabotage of detention, deportation and removal functions.
In another emetic performance, Obama parachuted into a Virginia naval shipyard this week to decry Pentagon cuts that would gut our military. But I repeat: The reductions in spending are CINO: Cuts In Name Only. If the sequester goes into effect, Pentagon spending will increase by $121 billion between 2014 and 2023. Fiscal watchdog GOP Sen. Tom Coburn adds that $70 billion is spent by the Defense Department on "nondefense" expenditures each year.
Send in the clowns. Wait. Don't bother. They're here.
(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Susan Estrich - Rich & guilty or poor & innocent?

"You've got African Americans; you've got Hispanics; you've got a bag full of money. Does that tell you — a light bulb doesn't go off in your head and say, 'This is a drug deal'?"
Sam Ponder, an assistant U.S. attorney in Texas, said that — and successfully convinced a jury to reject the defense that Bongani Charles Calhoun did not realize the road trip he went on involved buying drugs. The jury convicted. Calhoun was sentenced to 15 years for participating in a drug conspiracy. The appeals court affirmed. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Stephen Breyer, wrote separately. The two joined in the court's decision not to hear the case, but wanted to "dispel any doubt" that refusing to hear the appeal would "signal our tolerance of a federal prosecutor's racially charged remark. It should not."
So Calhoun goes to prison for 15 years.
Sometimes I ask my students: Would you rather be rich and guilty or poor and innocent? Most of them pick the former because rich people get much better lawyers, not to mention expert investigators, jury consultants and the rest.
The reason the court did not take the case, according to most observers, is not only because the business of the Supreme Court isn't to correct mistakes made below (unless they raise major legal issues of broader application), but also because Calhoun's lawyers did not object when the prosecutor made the comment, nor did they raise it in his appeal to the United States Court of Appeals. As we lawyers say, the objection was not properly preserved. It had not been addressed by any court below. There was no conflict among the circuit courts that the Supreme Court needed to resolve. "Cert denied."
You've heard it on television a million times. Criminal defendants have a right to a lawyer, and if they can't afford one, a lawyer will be appointed to represent them. They must be told that when they are taken into custody, or their statements cannot be used against them.
Even if they talk to police without a lawyer, appointing one is the first step in the judicial process. Under the constitution, you're entitled not simply to the assistance of a person who passed a bar exam; you are entitled to the effective assistance of counsel. Justice, we say, demands no less.
A few years ago, a defendant convicted in a capital case and sentenced to death appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that he had been denied the effective assistance of counsel because his lawyer fell asleep (this was uncontested) during the trial. He lost.
Ask anyone who has practiced law, and they will tell you: Some lawyers are better than others. There are some good lawyers at the very bottom of the legal food chain (where lawyers agree to represent indigent defendants for hourly wages that few lawyers in private practice would accept). But there are, as in most things, more good lawyers at the top than at the bottom. The real question is: How low can you go?
The answer, sadly, is very low.
I wish that at some point in my career I'd been a prosecutor. Prosecutors, many of them just a few years out of law school, decide whether a Calhoun will be charged and for what. Supreme Court justices make law. Prosecutors make life-and-death decisions.
Faith in our system requires that the fight between prosecution and defense not necessarily be equal, which it rarely is (rich defendants can often outlawyer the government, and poor defendants almost never do), but that it at least be fair. In Calhoun's case, it wasn't. Pure and simple.
The prosecutor, as Sotomayor put it, "tapped a deep and sorry vein of racial prejudice that has run through the history of criminal justice in our nation." The defense lawyers were too stupid or distracted or disinterested to object. And even so outspoken a defender of racial equality as Sotomayor couldn't right that wrong. Had she not written separately, we probably never would have heard of the case.
It should make you wonder: How many more cases like that are out there?
Take my word for it. Too many.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Froma Harrop - Price-gouging in 'free-market' medicine

When folks pan the Affordable Care Act for being nearly 3,000 pages long, here's a sensible response: It could have been done in a page and a half if it simply declared that Medicare would cover everyone.
The concept of Medicare for All was pushed by a few lonely liberals. And it would have been, ironically, the most conservative approach to bringing down health care costs while maintaining quality.
Medicare bringing down health care costs? "Ha, ha, ha," says the program's foes, citing the spending projections for the government health plan serving older Americans.
Unfortunately, the critics confuse spending levels with costs. Total Medicare spending is bound to rise as more older Americans live longer.
Sure, you can curb that increase through a voucher system limiting how much taxpayers will subsidize each beneficiary. But that's not the same as curbing the cost of treating a heart attack or cancer. Without Medicare's cost controls, the size of the bill for each course of care would be larger. Which is exactly what the medical-industrial complex wants.
A Time magazine piece by Steven Brill is must-reading on this subject. For all the waste and perverse incentives in Medicare, the federal program remains an oasis of cost-control in a desert of price-gouging by medical institutions, many parading around as "nonprofits."
Brill writes of Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old Ohioan with lymphoma. Suffering chills, pains and sweats, he rushed off to the famed MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Anderson wouldn't accept the Recchis' bare-bones insurance plan and required $83,900 upfront for an examination and initial doses of chemotherapy. (His mother-in-law wrote the checks.)
How did the bill get that high? Shameless overcharging. For example, the hospital charged Recchi $283 to have a simple chest X-ray for which Medicare would have paid $20.44. Recchi was billed more than $15,000 for blood and other lab tests. Medicare would have paid only a few hundred for the same thing.
"Why does simple lab work done during a few days in a hospital cost more than a car?" Brill asks rhetorically.
Recchi was charged $13,702 for a round of the cancer drug Rituxan. Researching how much hospitals pay for Rituxan, Brill estimated that Anderson had marked up the price 400 percent. And so on.
Janice S., age 64, felt chest pains and took herself to Stamford Hospital in Connecticut. While there, she was given three troponin tests to measure proteins in the blood. She was charged $199.50 for each troponin test. Had she been a year older and on Medicare, the hospital would have been paid only $13.94 for each test. The heart-attack false alarm ended up costing her $21,000.
Where does all this money end up? In the pockets of hospital administrators, doctors and makers of equipment and drugs on which the medical profession can multiply the markups.
Hospitals gripe that they lose money on Medicare patients, but that isn't true. As Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told Brill: "Central Florida is overflowing with Medicare patients, and all those hospitals are expanding and advertising for Medicare patients. So you can't tell me they're losing money."
Many Republicans and some Democrats want to cut Medicare spending by raising the eligibility age. That makes minus-zero sense. If anything, the age should be lowered.
This is not to say that Medicare doesn't waste money. Under current rules, for example, it must cover treatments that work, even when another, cheaper means of care does just as good a job.
But the economics of medicine in the private sector bears little resemblance to a real free market. Hospitals routinely put on a magic show designed to bilk ordinary Americans, especially — and tragically — the underinsured.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Pat Buchanan - Infantile conservatism

Regularly now, The Washington Post, as always concerned with fairness and balance, runs a blog called "Right Turn: Jennifer Rubin's Take From a Conservative Perspective."
The blog tells us what the Post regards as conservatism.
On Monday, Rubin declared that America's "greatest national security threat is Iran." Do conservatives really believe this?
How is America, with thousands of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, scores of warships in the Med, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, bombers and nuclear subs and land-based missiles able to strike and incinerate Iran within half an hour, threatened by Iran?
Iran has no missile that can reach us, no air force or navy that would survive the first days of war, no nuclear weapons, no bomb-grade uranium from which to build one. All of her nuclear facilities are under constant United Nations surveillance and inspection.
And if this Iran is the "greatest national security threat" faced by the world's last superpower, why do Iran's nearest neighbors — Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan — seem so unafraid of her?
Citing The Associated Press and Times of Israel, Rubin warns us that "Iran has picked 16 new locations for nuclear plants." How many nuclear plants does Iran have now? One, Bushehr. Begun by the Germans under the shah, Bushehr was taken over by the Russians in 1995, but not completed for 16 years, until 2011. In their dreams, the Iranians, their economy sinking under U.S. and U.N. sanctions, are going to throw up 16 nuclear plants.
Twice Rubin describes our situation today as "scary."
Remarkable. Our uncles and fathers turned the Empire of the Sun and Third Reich into cinders in four years, and this generation is all wee-weed up over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"For all intents and purposes, (Bibi) Netanyahu is now the West's protector," says Rubin. How so? Because Obama and Chuck Hagel seem to lack the testosterone "to execute a military strike on Iran."
Yet, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Bibi first warned in 1992 that Iran was on course to get the bomb — in three to five years! And still no bomb.
And Bibi has since been prime minister twice. Why has our Lord Protector not manned up and dealt with Iran himself?
Answer: He wants us to do it — and us to take the consequences.
"With regard to Afghanistan, the president is pulling up stakes prematurely," says Rubin.
As we are now in the 12th year of war in Afghanistan, and about to leave thousands of troops behind when we depart in 2014, what is she talking about?
"In Iraq, the absence of U.S. forces on the ground has ushered in a new round of sectarian violence and opened the door for Iran's growing violence."
Where to begin. Shia Iran has influence in Iraq because we invaded Iraq, dethroned Sunni Saddam, disbanded his Sunni-led army that had defeated Iran in an eight-year war and presided over the rise to power of the Iraqi Shia majority that now tilts to Iran.
Today's Iraq is a direct consequence of our war, our invasion, our occupation. That's our crowd in Baghdad, cozying up to Iran.
And the cost of that war to strip Iraq of weapons it did not have? Four thousand five hundred American dead, 35,000 wounded, $1 trillion and 100,000 Iraqi dead. Half a million widows and orphans. A centuries-old Christian community ravaged. And, yes, an Iraq tilting to Iran and descending into sectarian, civil and ethnic war. A disaster of epochal proportions.
But that disaster was not the doing of Barack Obama, but of people of the same semi-hysterical mindset as Ms. Rubin. She writes that for the rest of Obama's term, we "are going to have to rely on France, Israel, our superb (albeit underfunded) military and plain old luck to prevent national security catastrophes."
Is she serious?
Is French Prime Minister Francois Hollande really one of the four pillars of U.S national security now? Is Israel our security blanket, or is it maybe the other way around? And if America spends as much on defense as all other nations combined, and is sheltered behind the world's largest oceans, why should we Americans be as frightened as Rubin appears to be?
Undeniably we face challenges. A debt-deficit crisis that could sink our economy. Al-Qaida in the Maghreb, Africa, Arabia, Iraq and Syria. North Korea's nukes. A clash between China and Japan that drags us in. An unstable Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.
But does Iran, a Shia island in a Sunni sea, a Persian-dominated land where half the population is non-Persian, a country whose major exports, once we get past fossil fuels, are pistachio nuts, carpets and caviar, really pose the greatest national security threat to the world's greatest nation?
We outlasted the evil empire of Lenin and Stalin that held captive a billion people for 45 years of Cold War, and we are frightened by a rickety theocracy ruled by an old ayatollah?
Rubin's blog may be the Post's idea of conservatism. Ronald Reagan wouldn't recognize it.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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