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Archive for April, 2009

Sheldon Good Files Bankruptcy with $4M in Liabilities & $250K in Assets



Sheldon Good bankruptcy: Real estate firm blames ex-chairman for Chapter 11 filing

By Mary Ellen Podmolik

Tribune reporter

April 25, 2009

Commercial real estate brokerage and auctioneer Sheldon Good & Co. announced Friday that its nine operating entities had sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and blamed the move on “improper actions” taken by its former chairman, Steven Good.

After Steven Good’s Jan. 5 suicide, “debtors discovered that Mr. Good, without authority, had withdrawn substantial monies from the debtors’ operating accounts, calling it compensation, which left the debtor without reserves in the most difficult economic climate we have experienced in 20 years,” company President Alan Kravets said in an affidavit included in the bankruptcy filing. “The decrease in operating capital created by Steven Good’s misappropriation of monies magnified the effects of the current economic downturn and an overall decline in the U.S. real estate market.”

Kravets did not return phone calls for comment. The company’s bankruptcy attorney, Heidi Sorvino, declined to specify the amount of money involved.

The firm has secured $2 million in debtor-in-possession financing, Sorvino said. “They have a ton of business in the pipeline,” she said. Under Chapter 11, a company is protected from creditors while it designs a plan to repay debt.

In its filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, the company listed assets of $250,000 and liabilities of $4 million. The documents also show a negative net cash flow of $215,664 over the next 30 days.

The two largest unsecured creditors listed were JPMorgan Chase Bank, with a loan of $650,000, and New York-based Miller Advertising Agency, with trade debt of $699,000.

Good, 52, was found Jan. 5 behind the wheel of his Jaguar in a Kane County forest preserve with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. No note was found.

A month before Good’s suicide, he acknowledged the challenging conditions of the commercial real estate market.

The firm, known nationally for its auctions, was founded by Steven Good’s father, Sheldon Good, in 1965.






History of Singer Island Florida

The History of Singer Island, Florida

The first record of a settlement on Singer Island dates back to 1906 with Inlet City. Inlet City was a spontaneous community of fishermen and squatters, most of whom came from nearby Riviera Beach and the Bahamas. Fishermen were attracted to the island as a place to dry the cotton nets that they used in those days, and for its proximity to the fertile Gulf Stream (the waters of the Gulf Stream are closer to land on Singer Island than any other place in North America!).

Singer Island was named for Paris Eugene Singer, the famous developer of Palm Beach and 23rd child of Isaac Singer, the sewing machine magnate (Paris also fathered a son with legendary dancer Isadora Duncan in 1910*). In 1920, he visited Palm Beach and met Addison Mizner. He agreed to pay the architect a $6,000 a year retainer for life if his work was confined exclusively to the Palm Beach area. With Mizner, he created the Palm Beach we know today with its Spanish architecture, picturesque streets and exclusive shops. Singer often took his friends on picnics to the beautiful island directly north of Palm Beach. In anticipation of the Florida real estate boom, he and Mizner planned to develop a luxurious resort (the Paris Singer Hotel) on the south end of the island and a modest hotel (the Blue Heron) on the north end with a 36 hole golf course between the two structures.
The estimated price was four million dollars – a fantastic amount in those years. Mizner was to design the hotels, but it is said Singer was so eager to start, construction of the Blue Heron was begun before the drawings were started. The opening date was set for 1926. The hotel’s service wing was the first and the last to be completed. Singer’s original plan was to finance the building from the sale of lots throughout the island. The Florida land boom was already slowing down in 1925, and the combination of 1928 hurricane and 1929 stock market crash dealt a mortal blow to Singer’s finances. The shell of the Blue Heron remained for 14 years, until Paris Singer’s dream finally came to an end when the the abandoned, incomplete hotel was razed in 1940 (the Hilton Hotel stands there now).

In 1940, the City of Riviera purchased 1,000 feet of beach on the Island for $40,000. This led to the growth of tourism in Riviera and eventual incorporation of the island north of Palm Beach Shores. In 1941, the city of Riviera changed its name to Riviera Beach. The Town of Palm Beach Shores was developed in 1947 when A. O. Edwards, a railroad and hotel tycoon, bought 240 acres on Singer Island for $240,000 and invested $500,000 in improvements. He laid out a city plan with parks, walkways and roadways (Palm Beach Shores’ northern boundary originally extended 300 ft. north of Blue Heron Boulevard). In 1948 Edwards built the Inlet Court Hotel which was later renamed The Colonnades. A year later the wooden Sherman’s Point Bridge was replaced with a steel and concrete two lane structure with a drawbridge which permitted passage through the Intracoastal Waterway. The first Sebring style race was held on the island in 1950 and ended at the Colonnades. Edwards became the Singer Island’s first mayor in 1952. When he died in 1960, his estate sold the Colonnades Hotel to John D. MacArthur in 1963.

John D. MacArthur, born in poverty as the son of a preacher, became one of the greatest financiers of his day through the building of Chicago’s Banker’s Life and Casualty Insurance Company. By purchasing over 100,000 acres in this part of Palm Beach County, MacArthur became the largest landowner in the area. MacArthur ran his billion dollar empire from a booth in the Colonnades Hotel’s coffee shop. In 1976 he suffered a stroke and died 14 months later in the hotel. The hotel was razed in 1990 and the Marriott Corporation began construction of its time share resort, Marriott’s Ocean Pointe Resort, on the land.

MacArthur also owned many acres on the north end of Singer Island and he donated a large section of that land for a state park. The MacArthur Beach State Park opened in 1989 and his foundation provides funds to improve the facilities.

In the 1950’s Palm Beach County enjoyed tremendous growth and Singer Island evolved into a resort area of hotels and condominiums for winter residents. In 1952, Phil Foster Park was opened, named after one of Riviera Beach’s pioneer citizens. In 1976, to accommodate this growth and ease the access to the island, the two lane draw bridge was replaced with the current four lane Blue Heron Bridge.

SingerIsland.com was launched in 2000 and, as part of the Castello Cities Internet Network (CCIN), began promoting the island throughout the world through CCIN’s network of 117 city sites (PalmSprings.com, Acapulco.com, LagunaBeach.com, WestPalmBeach.com) as a premier South Florida destination. Today, Singer Island is experiencing unprecedented growth and practically all of its available real estate is under development.

*Paris Singer’s son was killed in an automobile accident in 1913.

Above article taken from singerisland.com
February 3, 2009

U.S.A. Home Prices Shall Loose 20% YET in 2009 !!!

Carnival barkers? No, U.S. sellers hawking homes
By Julie Haviv Julie Haviv Wed Apr 22, 6:12 pm ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Not satisfied with your home purchase as the value plummets? No problem. Return it and get your money back.

That is what Rockrose Development Corporation is promising potential buyers of hundreds of condominiums in New York, as sellers of real estate nationwide become desperate to unload inventory where prices are sliding quickly.

Rockrose will buy back the apartment after five years at 110 percent of the purchase price, no questions asked.

Home builders, trying to work off the largest overhang of inventory since at least the early 1960s in the toughest spring selling season in decades, have been forced to come up with new ideas to bring buyers to their open houses.

Aside from money-back guarantees, sellers are giving away credits for new kitchens and other accouterments, mortgage protection plans if buyers lose their jobs, and lower mortgage rates at the home builder’s expense.

“People need to be convinced to buy a home because it is almost guaranteed to lose value over the remainder of this year and perhaps beyond,” said Lawrence White, professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

With mortgage rates hovering around record lows and affordability at a record high, potential home buyers already have several good reasons to be house hunting.

But people are still hesitant to buy with unemployment at its highest level since 1983 and home prices, by some accounts, forecast to fall another 20 percent through the end of next year.

Rockrose is not alone in offering what was once unthinkable to draw in buyers.

Luxury home builder Toll Brothers is offering a lofty $100,000 incentive to spur sales for its residences at Belle Lago Villas, located in southwest Florida, in Estero.

The incentive is flexible and can be used toward customizing options, like upgraded flooring or kitchen appliances, or financing options such as using the incentive toward closing costs or buying down rates — whatever the buyer chooses.

“The incentive has been well-received and we have seen increased interest,” said Ken Thirtyacre, president of the Florida West Division of Toll Brothers.

Rockrose, a privately held developer based in New York, is converting a 27-story lower Manhattan rental building into hundreds of condominiums and needs to find buyers fast as prices in Manhattan — which had held off the steep losses seen in other parts of the country — fall fast.

“For those sitting on the sidelines, this gives them a sense of security and a motivation to act,” said Kathleen Scott, director of sales at Rockrose.

The U.S. housing market is in the worst downturn since the Great Depression and its impact has rippled through the recession-hit economy, as well as the rest of the world. A strong spring season may hasten a turnaround for the housing sector and portend a recovery for the U.S. economy, the world’s largest.

The U.S. government is offering an $8,000 tax credit, part of the stimulus bill, for first-time home buyers, which is helping boost sales in some regions. But many people, who are unemployed or who fear they may lose their job, are disinterested in purchasing a home.

Toll Brothers, in response, recently launched a program called the “Mortgage Protection Plan” in which the company pays for a buyer’s mortgage if the buyer becomes unemployed.

The Commerce Department said new home sales climbed 4.7 percent in February after reaching a record low in January. Sales have declined by 41.1 percent over the past year and are 75.7 percent below their July 2005 peak.

Slashing already record low mortgage rates is another path being taken. Home builder Lennar Corp. is offering a fixed 3.625 percent rate on certain 30-year fixed-rate mortgages for qualified buyers, substantially below average rates that have been hovering in the range of 4.70 to 4.80 percent. The low rate, however, comes with an array of stipulations.

NYU’s White said some incentives can help spur sales, while others are gimmicks for media attention.

“If it helps sell a home, then it certainly is a success,” he said.

(Additional Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Freddie Mac’s CFO DEAD !!!

Freddie Mac official found dead in apparent suicide
By MATT SMALL, Associated Press Writer Matt Small, Associated Press Writer 57 mins ago
WASHINGTON – David Kellermann, the acting chief financial officer of mortgage giant Freddie Mac, was found dead at his home Wednesday morning in what police said was an apparent suicide.

Mary Ann Jennings, director of public information for the Fairfax County, Va., Police Department, said Kellermann was found dead in his Reston, Va., home. The 41-year-old Kellermann has been Freddie Mac’s chief financial officer since September.

Jennings said that a crime scene crew and homicide detectives were investigating the death, but that there didn’t appear to be any sign of foul play.

McLean-based Freddie Mac has been criticized heavily for reckless business practices that some argue contributed to the housing and financial crisis. Freddic Mac is a government-controlled company that owns or guarantees about 13 million home loans. CEO David Moffett resigned last month.

Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae, which together own or back more than half of the home mortgages in the country, have been hobbled by skyrocketing loan defaults and have received about $60 billion in combined federal aid.

Kellermann was named acting chief financial officer in September 2008, after the resignation of Anthony “Buddy” Piszel, who stepped down after the September 2008 government takeover. The chief financial officer is responsible for the company’s financial controls, financial reporting and oversight of the company’s budget and financial planning.

Before taking that job, Kellerman served as senior vice president, corporate controller and principal accounting officer. He was with Freddie Mac for more than 16 years.

Real Estate Diving 30% +/- More !!!

How Low Will Real Estate Go?
By Matt Woolsey, Forbes.com
Apr 17th, 2009

These places in America have fast-falling home prices that have yet to hit bottom.
Two weeks ago, Joyti Goundar, an agent at Redfin, a residential real estate brokerage, entered a bid of $420,000 for a three-bedroom, 1,625-square-foot La Crescenta home outside of L.A., listed at $299,000. When she lost the bid, she wasn’t surprised. In July of 2008, Goundar bid $559,000 for a two-bedroom Arcadia house, also outside L.A., listed by Wells Fargo for $459,900. That one received 105 bids, driving the price up to $628,000, according to Los Angeles County records.

In Depth: How Low Will Real Estate Go?

“Sellers want to generate a bidding war, and it’s working,” she says.

So does this mean Southern California prices have reached bottom?

Not by a long shot. Even with the bidding wars, prices aren’t nearly as high as they were at the peak of the real estate boom. Values plummeted 31% in the L.A. metro area in 2008, according to the National Association of Realtors.

And values still have a long way to go. Based on historical balances of employment, housing sales, income, lending availability, foreclosures and vacancy rates, all dating back to 1982, home prices in the Los Angeles metro area still have 29% further to fall, according to Moody’s Economy.com.

The best real estate deals, it seems, are yet to come.

Behind the Numbers
To figure out which housing markets have yet to reach bottom, we looked at the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S., as defined by the Office of Management and Budget and, using calculations from Moody’s, analyzed each area’s spending power, unemployment, housing and credit availability going back 27 years.

Over that time, each area’s home prices have fluctuated differently according to these factors. Moody’s calculations determine how much each area’s home prices would have to change to bring that particular housing market back to a state of balance. The further from equilibrium, the further the market has to go. Projections were made on the basis of the current rate of price decline, absorption rate, employment and salary deterioration, and how long it would take each metro to wash out to a historical point of balance.

All of this adds up to bad news in one of the states hardest hit by the real estate bust, Florida–particularly Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville. Home prices are down 32%, 27% and 9%, respectively, in year-over-year terms, and are expected to decline a further 53%, 48% and 39% in each area, according to our calculations. Each has decade highs in unemployment, not to mention still out-of-balance price-to-home-price ratios.

In Miami, home prices are $234,200 at the median, and that’s still six times the median income of $39,350, making it one of the nation’s least affordable markets. Unaffordable housing markets are hit particularly hard when unemployment spikes, especially over multiyear periods. In Miami’s case, unemployment has gone up steadily since 2007.

“These price decreases tend to add up in metro areas that have had continuous increases in the unemployment rate over the past two to three years,” says Andres Carbacho-Burgos, an economist at Economy.com.

And unemployment has a nasty way of compounding with other factors.

“Rising unemployment is accompanied by a whole host of other occurrences–rising defaults and foreclosures, reduced mortgage originations, falling incomes, reduced industry investment and construction, increasing outmigration, and lower long-term income prospects,” says Carbacho-Burgos.

In other words, as jobless rates go up a little, home prices sink a lot.

All Markets in this Together
It’s not just broader metro areas, with their vacant outer suburbs, overbuilt beachfront and overly hopeful new developments that are taking hits. In New York, Manhattan has been showing signs of cracking for months, in the form of rising inventory and slowing sales.

Yet it wasn’t until the first quarter of 2009 that it became apparent how much of a hit that market would take.

Manhattan median prices were down 21% in year-over-year terms, from $852,500 to $675,000, according to Miller Samuel, a Manhattan-based appraisal firm. While Moody’s expects the broader metro to decline another 23%, and Manhattan will no doubt contribute to that, the price drops have at least piqued interest among those still employed, a lone bright spot.

While a slower housing price decline won’t bring jobs back to AIG–or resurrect Lehman Bros. from the dead–and save housing prices, it at least wards off some fears of a return to the frightening bankrupt New York of the early 1980s.

“By the end of the first quarter there was a noticeable uptick in contract activity and attendance at open houses,” says Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel. “While this is partially attributable to seasonality, it is also a sign of first-time qualified buyers seeking to take advantage of improved affordability.”

Though, as is the case in Los Angeles and most other parts of the country, that increased interest has yet to result in price reversals to sustainable levels. As long as unemployment continues to rise, don’t expect that we’ve seen the worst of it.

In Depth: How Low Will Real Estate Go?

Top 5 Places With Fast-Falling Home Prices
1. Raleigh, N.C.
(Raleigh-Cary metro area)
2008 Population: 1,088,765
2007-2008 Change: 4.29%

2. Austin, Texas
(Austin-Round Rock metro area)
2008 Population: 1,652,602
2007-2008 Change: 3.77%

3. Charlotte, N.C.
(Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C.-S.C., metro area)
2008 Population: 1,701,799
2007-2008 Change: 3.36%

4. Phoenix, Ariz.
(Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metro area)
2008 Population: 4,281,899
2007-2008 Change: 2.78%

5. Dallas, Texas

(Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area)
2008 Population: 6,300,006
2007-2008 Change: 2.38%

Click here for the full list of How Low Will Real Estate Go?

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Ixquick – Search Engine No Longer Records Users’ IP Addresses At All

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Ixquick MetasearchIxquick is a metasearch engine based in New York and the Netherlands, and has provided over 120 million searches since 2004. [1] Ixquick was founded by David Bodnick (currently Ixquick’s lead “Technologist”) in 1998, from New York. It is now owned by a Dutch company – Surfboard Holding BV, which acquired this search engine in 2000. [2]

Ixquick returns the top ten results from multiple search engines. It uses a “Star System” to rank its results – by awarding one star for every result that has been returned from a search engine. Thereby, the top search results are the ones that have been returned from the most search engines. Ixquick also can search in 17 languages, including Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. Each language version includes local search engines.

Ixquick was re-launched on March 23, 2005, with many new features including a re-engineered metasearch algorithm, and an international phone and lowest-price directory. [3]

On June 27, 2006, Ixquick.com became the first search engine to delete private details of its users [4]. IP addresses and other personal information are deleted within 48 hours of a search. [5] Ixquick also does not share its users’ personal information with other search engines or with the provider of its sponsored results. [6]

Ixquick was awarded the first European Privacy Seal (EuroPriSe) for its privacy practices on July 14, 2008. This European Union-sponsored initiative guarantees compliance with EU laws and regulations on data security and privacy, through a series of design and technical audits.[7]

As of January 29th 2009 Ixquick no longer records users’ IP addresses at all.

[edit] See also
Belzabar – develop and maintain the Ixquick search engine[8]

[edit] References
^ “Ixquick Search.” http://www.metamend.com.
^ “New Ixquick International Search Engine Unveiled.” http://www.hventure.nl. March 23, 2005.
^ “IXQuick.com Q & A With David Bodnick & Alex van Eesteren.” http://www.marketingshift.com. March 23, 2005.
^ “Ixquick.com Eliminates ‘Big Brother’.” biz.yahoo.com. June 27, 2006.
^ “http://ixquick.com/eng/protect_privacy_qa.html Privacy Q&A”
^ “Privacy Policy”
^ “About Europrise”
^ “Selected Client Work.” .

[edit] External links
Ixquick website
Ixquick toolbar
Ixquick deskbar
Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ixquick&#8221;
Categories: Internet search engines
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Auctions of Groceries Soar !!!


Canned Ham, Going Once, Going Twice: Grocery Auctions Soar
By SEAN GREGORY Sean Gregory 1 hr 40 mins ago
This Friday, as he has done almost every Friday for the past four years, Ron Peterson will offer antiques, coins, jewelry, furniture and cars at the weekly auction he runs in Monroeville, New Jersey. This is all typical fare for the bidding business. But if you’re also hankering for ham and paper towels, no need to run to the supermarket. As the stock market headed south last fall, Peterson, owner of Elmer Auction, LLC, added grocery items like cereals and cleaning supplies to his ledger. And they’ve sold, to the cash-strapped ladies and gentlemen sitting in each and every row. “People are skipping the decorative items,” says Peterson, “and buying what they need.”

These days, the auctioneers are selling more than just art, antiques and the furniture from Aunt Esther’s estate. As the economy fell, so did the demand for discretionary items sold at most community auctions across the country. Desperate for new revenue streams, auctioneers have started selling basic grocery store items to help pick up the slack. Hungry for bargains, shoppers have started bidding on fruits and vegetables. As long as the final offer comes in below the grocer’s retail price, they’ll save a few bucks on the essentials. “Right now, the auction business is in a downfall,” says Raymond Toler, owner of Raymond’s Auction House in Archdale, N.C. He started running monthly grocery auctions in October, after hearing that they were becoming popular among other auction companies in his area. “We’re just trying new things to get people in here,” he says. (See pictures from a grocery auction.)

During the downturn, auctioneers in Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Georgia and other places have either added groceries to their programs, or increased the frequency of food sales. Grocers are eager to hand over their goods to the auction houses once they know they’re not going to sell them in the store. For example Clyde DeHart, owner of DeHart’s Auction Service in Carlisle, Pa., takes “scratch n’ dent” items from a nearby BJ’s Wholesale Club store. Since BJ’s sells in bulk, if one can of corn gets smashed in the truck, the whole case can’t be displayed in the store. So DeHart takes the case, throws out the bad can, and auctions off the rest. If, say, a bag of Iams dog food gets ripped, DeHart will tape it and offer it at auction. “I wouldn’t do that with human food,” he says.

Some items are near or slightly past their sell-by dates, but these days, expiration won’t keep shoppers from a discount. Other stuff is just sitting on the shelves, and will go to waste if it’s not auctioned off. The grocers get the proceeds from the sale, and the auctioneer takes a cut for commission. DeHart, for example, says he usually receives about 30% of an auction’s proceeds. He started running grocery auctions three months ago. During one five-hour auction in March, bidders paid $10,000 for groceries that retailed for $26,000. (See pictures of the world’s longest yard sale.)

For his next big sale on April 17, DeHart lists about 100 items on the docket, including coffee, Pampers, Twizzlers, relish, macaroni & cheese, and Chef Boyardee. “This is the DeHart’s (sic) stimulus plan,” his listing says on dehartsauction.com, “and it does work.” (To find a grocery auction in your area, try auctionzip.com, a site that lets you search for sales by zip code. Type “grocery” in the “keyword” bar).

Auctions only work for shoppers if they do a little research. Consumers need to know the price of a given item in the local grocery store, and discipline themselves not to bid above that number. Such self-restraint is no easy task. “We joke all time about the Little Debbies,” says Chris Crepeau, owner of Michigan Auction Sales in Holt, Mich. “People always want those specific snack cakes, and pay too much for them.” The auction process sweeps up some shoppers – I just want to win, darn it, no matter how much I pay for that dog food. Others figure that while they’re at the grocery auction anyway, they might as well spend an extra dollar to secure that ground beef. Beats making another trip to the store.

On the whole, however, the auction houses report that shoppers are saving. The deals vary by product, but Crepeau says his customers are paying 25-50% less than they would in the supermarkets. Crepeau has been running monthly grocery auctions for two years; over the past couple of months, attendance has doubled. “We have a lot of laid-off people around here,” says Crepeau. “They need ways to save a buck.”

They also often need a respite from grocery shopping’s drudgery. Scouring the supermarket for all the items on your list is not much fun. You may get pumped shopping for shoes and new shirts, but who relishes the chance to buy relish? Sure, you can bid on frozen chicken pot pie over the eBay, but that’s a pretty lonely endeavor. At the very least, these auctions offer another social outlet in tough times. “It’s a fun experience,” says Randy Zimmerman, a mother of seven from Holt. “We goof around with the auctioneers. People are having conversations throughout the auction – it’s a real chance to meet new people.”

Still, saving is the real key. Zimmerman has seven children, between the ages of 2 and 19. At a grocery auction in early April, she bought hot dogs, frozen pizzas and an Easter ham, among other items. Zimmerman figures all the stuff she bought would have cost $300 in the grocery store. She paid $100. “The more we save on food, the more we have for all the other bills each month,” Zimmerman says. “Our cash flow can stretch out further. These auctions have just been a blessing.”

See 10 things to buy during the recession.

See 50 authentic American travel experiences.

View this article on Time.com

Related articles on Time.com:

Canned Ham, Going Once, Going Twice: Grocery Auctions Soar

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