Owners demand lower tax valuations (but higher selling prices) - (abcnews.go.com) Local Property Taxes Bloated Because of Assessment Lags; Big Delays in Nevada, Connecticut. Never judge a house by its tax bill. That's the lesson Don Newby, 65, is learning. The construction manager from Gibbsboro, N.J., is paying boom-era property taxes on a home that has lost 20 percent of its value in the past three years. He blames the Gibbsboro tax authorities, who haven't reassessed property values in the town since 2003. "That's absurd," says Newby, who pays $14,000 a year in taxes on a four-bedroom, bi-level modern house in the New Jersey township near Philadelphia. Newby, who was unemployed for a year after the economic collapse, says he believes the government is intentionally delaying new assessments to benefit from the lag as long as possible. "When you watch how property values have come down, it appears I could save almost $2,000 in taxes," he says.
Destitute and desperate, Icelanders opt for exile - (news.yahoo.com) Anna Margret Bjoernsdottir never thought she would be forced to leave her once wealthy homeland, but after 18 months of economic upheaval she has decided to join the biggest emigration wave from Iceland in more than a century. "I just don't see any future here. There isn't going to be any future in this country for the next 20 years, everything is going backwards," lamented the 46-year-old single mother, who plans to move to Norwayin June. The former real estate agent who lost her job when Iceland's housing market disintegrated two years ago said she feared she could soon be forced out of her large house in Mosfellsbaer, some 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Reykjavik. "I don't want to sell it," she said, vowing to "fight to keep" the comfortable wooden dwelling she, her daughter Olavia, their cat Isolde Tinna and their dog Candit the Bandit have called home since 2004. Bjoernsdottir is not alone in planning to leave Iceland's economic mess behind and seek a new future abroad. Most people in Reykjavik have someone in their surroundings who has already packed their bags and left. Emigration has rapidly picked up speed since the Atlantic island nation's economy crumbled in late 2008, dragged down by the collapse of its major banks. Last year it marked the largest exodus from the country since 1887.
Gold Fraud Bombshell: Canada's Only Bullion Bank Gold Vault Practically Empty - (www.zerohedge.com) Continuing on the trail of exposing what is rapidly becoming one of the largest frauds in commodity markets history is the most recent interview by Eric King with GATA's Adrian Douglas, Harvey Orgen (who recently testified before the CFTC hearing) and his son, Lenny, in which the two discuss their visit to the only bullion bank vault in Canada, that of ScotiaMocatta, located at 40 King Street West in Toronto, and find the vault is practically empty. This is a relevant segue to a class action lawsuit filed against Morgan Stanley, which was settled out of court, in which it was alleged that Morgan Stanley told clients it was selling them precious metals that they would own in full and that the company would store, yet even despite charging storage fees was not in actual possession of the bullion. It appears that this kind of lack of physical holdings by all who claim to have gold in storage, is pervasive as the actual gold globally is held primarily in paper or electronic form. Lenny Organ who was the person to enter the vault of ScotiaMocatta, says "What shocked me was how little gold and silver they actually had." Lenny describes exactly how much (or little as the case may be) silver was available - roughly 60,000 ounces. As for gold - 210 400 oz bars, 4,000 maples, 500 eagles, 10 kilo bars, 10 one kilogram pieces of gold nugget form, which Adrian Douglas calculates as being $100 million worth, which is just one tenth of what the Royal Mint of Canada sold in 2008, or over $1 billion worth of gold. As Orgen concludes: "The game ends when the people who own all these paper obligations say enough and take physical delivery, and that's when the mess will occur."
Mountain of foreclosures in Colorado resort communities - (www.denverpost.com) Harry Cessna admits he has struggled to make payments on the modular home he bought in Gypsum in 1989 with his soon-to-be wife. He was late a couple of times as he helped his wife fight cancer for two years, a battle she lost in 2007. Without her salary, Cessna, a house painter, could barely make payments on the acre-lot home bought for $55,000. He used his G.I. Bill money as a down payment. Now, painting jobs in the Vail Valley have dried up along with the rest of the construction industry. He has filed for bankruptcy. Last month, the bank foreclosed on his home. While foreclosure sales have been on the downturn along the Front Range, mountain communities are experiencing increases often of triple-digit percentages as homeowners from the wealthy on down lose their properties. "I sat here — happy and content in my little home — and watched all these big boys play with money, and I saw how greedy everyone got, selling and going bigger and selling and going bigger. Now I'm getting punished along with the rest of them," said Cessna, 52, who has a teenage son. One of those "big boys" is John, a former top-producing loan officer for Bank of America who owes $1.2 million on his 5,000-square-foot home in Edwards and is in foreclosure.
Greenspan says goal of housing trumped all - (www.upi.com) Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Congress would have intervened had the central bank tried to slow down the risky housing bubble. Testifying for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in Washington, Greenspan said there was "a fairly broad consensus" concerning a goal of supporting housing and that "Congress would have clamped down on us," had the Fed interfered with that goal, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Greenspan, who said the Fed issued warnings about risky lending in 1999 and 2001, met with harsh questioning from Brooksley Born, a member of the panel examining the causes of the financial crisis. Born said Greenspan "appropriately" considered regulation "preventative" in nature. "But the Fed utterly failed to prevent the financial crisis ... the housing bubble …predatory lending … (and) our biggest banks and holding companies from engaging in activities that would bring them to the verge of collapse," she said. Greenspan said it was inaccurate to assume "my views on regulation were predominant and effective at influencing the Congress."
Foreclosures Surge in CA's Central Valley - (www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com) Foreclosure rates across the Central Valley increased in February compared to the year before, according to a report released Wednesday by First American CoreLogic, a real estate information company based in Santa Ana. In Chico the rate of foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans was 2.26 percent for the month of February, an increase of 0.95 percentage points compared to February 2009 when the rate was 1.31 percent. But foreclosure activity in Chico is lower than the national foreclosure rate, which was 3.17 percent for February 2010, representing a 0.91 percentage point difference. Also in Chico, the mortgage delinquency rate has increased. According to First American CoreLogic data for February 2010, 7.77 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent compared to 4.36 percent for the same period last year, representing an increase of 3.40 percentage points. Foreclosure rates in Fresno also increased for the month of February over the same period last year, according to First American CoreLogic.