[pulseaudio-discuss] Lloyd Segal

Lloyd Segal segallloyd at yahoo.com
Wed May 29 08:00:52 PDT 2013

Lloyd Segal Real Estate News
3 reasons the housing recovery may not last

"Crossing the 50% threshold marks a significant milestone, as most 
Americans believe a housing recovery is truly occurring throughout the 
country," said Doug Duncan, chief economist for Fannie Mae.

People who were sitting on the sidelines because of concerns that prices
 were still falling can be drawn back into the market once they believe 
prices are on their way up again. Home sales are up 10% from a year ago,
 helped not only by the climbing prices but also record low mortgage 
rates and falling unemployment.

More news from Lloyd Segal available at www.lloydsegal.blogspot.com

10 Things Your Neighbors Won’t Tell You
1. “Complaining will cost you.”

Falling out with your neighbors can mean more than just uncomfortable 
meetings in the hallway or front yard, added stress and sleepless 
nights. When Richard Laermer and his partner moved into a Manhattan 
co-op, his next-door neighbor invited them over to dinner. “We had a 
lovely wine-infused time,” recalls Laermer, a PR executive. But those 
good times didn’t last. A few short weeks after breaking bread, Laermer 
left a sticky note on the neighbor’s door asking if her kids could be 
quieter in the mornings. “Tone is impossible to convey,” he says. “She 
was sure I was yelling at her, but really I was explaining how connected
 our pads were.” The neighbor cut off all contact. After that, things 
got really bad.

As Laermer discovered, a bitter neighbor has the power to sue you over 
anything from a barking dog to street parking. When Laermer, for 
example, wanted to change the position of his apartment’s front door to 
create an alcove, his neighbor threatened to sue because it would 
infringe on her privacy. “It would have added ,000 to the value of our 
home,” he says. After five years of the silent treatment, the couple 
moved in 2007 to friendlier climes in Connecticut, he says. “Try to 
build a good relationship with your neighbors, because friends usually 
don’t sue friends,” says Robert W. Zierman, a lawyer who practices 
boundary dispute law in Seattle.

Laermer is more careful these days. “I think the tough economy has made 
people keen not to ruffle feathers,” he says. Not everyone can afford to
 move. Around 10.7 million homeowners, or 22%, owed more on their 
mortgages than their home was worth in the third quarter of 2012, 
according to the latest figures from CoreLogic, a mortgage-data firm. 
That is down from around 23% in 2011. Laermer was the one that got away –
 by moving to a new neighborhood – but he has regrets. “My bad neighbors
 ruined decades of anonymous Manhattan dwelling fun. Apartment living 
will never be the life for me again.”

2. “I will use your Wi-Fi — and might get you arrested.”

Nearly one-third of Americans admit to using their neighbor’s Internet 
service, nearly double the number from two years ago, according to a 
national survey by the nonprofit Wi-Fi Alliance. Such thieving can push 
your data usage above its monthly limit and increase your Wi-Fi bill, 
according to a spokeswoman for AT&T, who recommends that customers 
protect their Wi-Fi network with a password and change it regularly. 
Worse, there’s no controlling what Wi-Fi thieves do with your signal, 
and if what they’re doing is illegal, you could be in hot water.

Barry Covert, a lawyer based in Buffalo, N.Y., and recently represented 
two clients — one in Buffalo, N.Y. and one in Milford, Mass. — who he 
says had their wireless Internet hijacked by neighbors downloading child
 pornography. The clients are no longer facing charges: The U.S. 
Attorney’s Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of
 the Department of Homeland Security, issued an official apology in 
March to the family in Buffalo, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation 
has since said that it believed the people in Milford were innocent. 
Neither case went to court, but if they had, Covert says, legal fees 
could have run to 0,000. To be sure, the more common result of Wi-Fi 
mooching is simply a slow Internet connection. But experts say it is so 
difficult for investigators to determine whether the person using a 
network is the account owner, almost anyone could wind up in legal 

The solution: Secure your Wi-Fi, and change the password regularly. It 
isn’t fail-safe, but it sets up an obstacle, pros say, and that can be 
enough to encourage a thief to move on to the house down the block. “If 
you use technology, you need to know how it can be used against you,” 
Covert says.

3. “Good luck blocking out our din.”

The biggest complaint people have about their neighbors is noise, says 
Bob Borzotta, whose annual online poll at his website 
NeighborsFromHell.com has ranked it as No. 1 year after year. That 
includes barking dogs, loud music, car and house alarms and domestic 
arguments. And these aren’t the constant complaints of a neighborhood 
killjoy. “I know two people who ended up having intestinal surgery 
because of anxiety related to long-running disputes with neighbors over 
noise,” Borzotta says. Like Richard Laermer, he advises caution when 
complaining. “If you complain to the wrong person, a genuine neighbor 
from hell, he or she will make a point of making you miserable,” he 

Lost sleep and noisy neighbors can mean hefty doctor’s bills to deal 
with anxiety and stress. People who suffer from psychological distress 
spend an average of ,735 more on health care each year than lower-stress
 folks, according to a study published in 2011 by researchers at the 
Medical University at South Carolina. The bills for the house aren't 
much better: Soundproofing one wall between you and the noisy neighbor 
can run 0, and it is an extra 0 for the ceiling, says Ted White, 
president of the Michigan-based Soundproofing Co. The price of 
soundproof windows, meanwhile, ranges from 0 to 0 each, according to 
Reno, Nev.-based Soundproof Windows Inc.

4. “I’m a registered sex offender.”

For obvious reasons, this may be the last thing in the world your 
neighbor wants to mention. But the Sexual Offender Act of 1994, also 
called “Megan’s Law,” requires that people convicted of sex crimes 
notify local law enforcement of any change of address or employment 
post-prison. That information is then made public, via the National Sex 
Offender Registry. And as would-be home buyers use these tools right 
along with Zillow to evaluate their future neighborhoods, the presence 
of a convicted sex-offender can hurt property values. One study by the 
researchers in Longwood College and Longwood University in Virginia said
 that registered sex offenders living nearby can reduce a home’s value 
by 9%, and homes near registered sex offenders can take more than 70% 
longer to sell.

5. “We’re ripping up the flower beds and planting corn.”

Forget Farmville. About 43 million Americans now grow their own fruits, 
vegetables, berries and herbs, according to a 2009 National Gardening 
Association report, up 19% over the previous year. But what’s good for 
the farmer isn’t necessarily so good for his neighbors. A Virginia Tech 
study from the same year suggested that landscaping and pristine lawns 
help increase property values by an average of 7.5%. A home valued at 
0,000 with no landscaping could be worth ,000 to ,000 more with a 
sophisticated landscape with color and large plants, the study said: 
“Relatively large landscape expenditures significantly increase 
perceived home value and will result in a higher selling price than 
homes with a minimal landscape.”

At least if your neighbor decides to plow her garden, perhaps she’ll 
share the harvest. Cat Rocketship, 29, an artist, ripped up her lawn 
when she moved to a settled neighborhood in Des Moines, Iowa. She 
planted soy beans, corn, squash, tomatoes and peppers. It raised 
eyebrows with her older neighbor. But now, she says, “we’re feeding at 
least two families with the vegetables we’re growing,” and her neighbor 
has become accustomed to her more offbeat ways. If you’re undertaking 
any major renovations in a neighborhood, she says, it helps to be 
friendly. She even brews beer in her garage these day, in full view of 
her neighbor.

6. “My bed bugs need neighbors too.”

Friendly neighbors sometimes bring other unwanted guests. It only takes 
one embarrassed and silent neighbor with a mattress full of bed bugs to 
infect an entire apartment building. In one recent study, the arrival of
 a single suspected bedbug resulted in infestation in 45% of the 
apartments in a 233-unit building within three years. Getting rid of the
 pests is hard — it may take several cycles of extreme extermination, 
and around 0 for a typical one-bedroom apartment, according to San 
Francisco-based exterminator Dan Fitzsimmons.

In some cases, landlords have to tell new tenants about infestations. 
New York, which has suffered from a rise in bed bugs infestations in 
recent years, requires it by law. But neighbors can keep their own bed 
bug problems to themselves, and if the critters creep from their 
apartment to yours, it isn’t always clear who’s on the hook. In some 
cases, the landlord will cover the costs; in others, it is the tenant’s 
responsibility. The only thing would-be tenants can look for, beyond 
asking the landlord, is obvious signs of filth: The more unhygienic the 
neighbor, the greater the odds of an infestation.

7. “I’m secretly stealing your land.”

Few homeowners have heard of “adverse possession,” but it is the legal 
grounds on which a neighbor can claim rights to your land. Say a 
neighbor moves a fence or wall, or plants trees or a bush. If he 
encroaches on your property, and no one notices, he can claim 
“continuous, exclusive, open and notorious” use of that land — and if 
he’s able to do so for an average of 10 years in most states, he may be 
able to claim ownership. This could potentially add to the value of his 
property while reducing the value of yours.

Indeed, most people don’t check their land boundaries until it is too 
late, says Zierman, the property lawyer. “You may not want to make a 
fuss, because you’re neighbors,” he says. But securing the boundaries 
before it becomes a real issue — you’re selling your house, or your 
neighbor is — is important. Fighting to get the land back can cost tens 
of thousands of dollars in legal fees. In friendlier disputes, a land 
survey can cost up to ,000 or less if split between two neighbors, 
experts say —much less than the cost of a lawsuit.

8. “Our bad behavior will give the whole block a bad name.”

When Ariel Stallings moved into her first home in a quiet suburb of 
Seattle, she thought she would be the one who would make neighborhood 
curtains twitch, considering her rainbow-colored dreadlocks. But the 
real troublemakers, it turned out, lived in the house across the street.
 “It soon became obvious they were selling drugs,” says Stallings. 
Eventually, the police raided the house and dealt with the problem.

Not everyone is so lucky. Those living near lawbreaking (or even just 
bothersome) neighbors may feel like they have little choice but to pony 
up for a costly home security system. Fences, stronger gates and a 
top-of-the-range security system with multiple cameras and 
window-and-door sensors can cost up to ,000 for a large house, says Bob 
Tucker, a spokesman for Florida-based ADT Security Services.

9. “We’re not paying our mortgage.”

When your neighbors can’t keep up with their house payments, it can 
spell trouble for the entire neighborhood. Foreclosed homes not only are
 more likely to fall into disrepair but also might reduce the value of 
nearby homes. On average, home property values drop nearly 1% when 
they’re within one-eighth of a mile from a foreclosed single-family 
residence, according to the Woodstock Institute, a research group, and 
the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Foreclosures are falling over the long-term, but experts say many are 
still caught up in the legal system. Foreclosure rates rose 10% in 
February from the month prior, according to data released Thursday by 
RealtyTrac, though that was still down nearly 25% from the year before. 
“Foreclosures have been contained as a threat to the housing market, but
 there’re still hot spots in the foreclosure market in different states 
that need to be stamped out,” Daren Blomquist, a vice president at 
RealtyTrac, said in a statement. Including February, Florida has had the
 highest foreclosure rate for the sixth consecutive month, he says.

10. “You’re moving? I’ll cut ,000 off your sale price.”

Those casual over-the-fence conversations about your flooded basement or
 the incipient kudzu problem could end up costing you when it is time to
 sell. Real estate agents often advise home buyers to find out what the 
neighbors think about a property. “I do encourage any buyer to drive 
around the neighborhood and, if they see a neighbor out front, to stop 
and talk,” says Pat Vredevoogd Combs, a broker with Grand Rapids, 
Mich.-based Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt Realtors. We’ve gotten some 
really cool information from people that way.”

Some agents will do their own investigations. Robert Earl, founder of 
The Earl of Real Estate, an agency based in Reston, Va., says he’s one 
of many agents who check with local busybodies when representing a 
buyer. Earl says a buyer’s knowledge of a “distressed sale” or divorce 
could knock 5% off the sale price — that is ,000 off the average sale 
price in Northern Virginia. Neighbors have told him about flood damage 
on a property he was looking at on behalf of a client, and “sure enough,
 we saw evidence of water damage hidden away.” The lesson? Be careful 
how close you get to your neighbor. 

For more information visit www.lloydsegal.blogspot.com
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