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Wednesday, December 02, 1981

Weekend Open Thread

This is your open thread for this weekend. Please post random links and off-topic discussions here.


MisterBubble said...

Whoa, Lizzie!

What the heck is she doing!?!? Is this case of a rat fleeing a drowning ship, or what?

MisterBubble said...

FYI -- I think I found the myspace page of the mythical Hooter's-girl-turned-Merit-loan-officer mentioned toward the end of Lizzie's article.

At the very least, I found the page of a 20 year-old girl who went from Hooters Girl to Merit Girl in 2005, at the age of 19 (How many could there be??)

Here's her current myspace profile (which only mentions Merit), and here is Google's 3/11/2006 cache of the more incriminating page. Note the pictures of the girls in the Merit offices toward the bottom of the cached page -- including one of her with someone who is listed as "the boss," and who bears a striking resemblance to uber-frat-boy Scott Greenlaw!

From the cached profile text:

"I'm 19. Yes, I know I'm a baby. Over it. I'm loud and funny and outgoing... good at being the center of attention. I LOVE TO LAUGH!!! Having fun and enjoying myself and those around me is most important. I live life to the fullest - no regrets."

Her education? "Snohomish Graduate School" (I think she means High School, here -- her listed activities include "SHS Football Manager")

Her major? "Having FUN!"

Her meteoric rise from Hooters Girl, to the lofty position of "Senior Loan Officer" can only be described as inspirational: in under a year, she moved from Hooters, to a company named "House Values" (where she was a "Real Estate Account Executive"), to Merit.

(Random thought: In the Merit coroporate hierarchy, do you get to be a Bachelor Loan Officer when you actually graduate from college?)

In any case, you heard it here first, folks: 19-year-old girls are the "executives" of the new, new economy (and I, for one, welcome our nubile, cheerleading, debt-procuring overloards!)


Someone explain to me again how this isn't a bubble?

christiangustafson said...

Watching the Sunday morning news shows, there's a new PR campaign out by the WA REALTORs:

There's a housing crisis in Washington State.

The Washington REALTORS® are working to improve our quality of life and ensure there are a variety of home choices available for all Washington residents. That's why quality of life issues like economic vitality, transportation, good schools, growth management planning and home affordability must be top priorities with Washington's state and local lawmakers.

Lawmakers must address this crisis and work for solutions. It's time we make this issue a priority!

Our population is growing but the supply of homes isn't keeping up. Homebuyers have to drive too far to find an affordable home. That's caused long commutes, traffic jams and sprawl. And home prices have increased by 160 percent in some parts of Washington.

I guess we're supposed to contact our representatives and demand that they make RE a priority. Because we're running out of land, etc etc

When I pony up to buy a house (at a 40%+ discount to the current bubble prices, we will certainly not use a 6% REALTOR. If the profession even exists in a few years, it will only be if they have moved to a flat-fee service model.

LoneLibertarian said...

scott greenlaw is a greedy idiot who burned his company, employees, and his clients.

Rags to riches back to rags. SOunds like a real bright dude to me.

I knew a girl who worked at merit. She was very attractive but not much going on upstairs. I believe that was the requirement they were looking for.

It was probably easier to get those with no experience/education to push crap loans and forge documents in the name of Merit becuase they "didn't know better"

Can you say BOILER ROOM

LoneLibertarian said...

Oh, and if this was a brokerage firm all these people would be in jail.

Lake Hills Renter said...

Is it justme, or does that Greenlaw story sound exactly like stories from the dot-com crash era? Only the business is different.

mydquin said...

Mr. Bubble, I am a little surprised that you did not focus on this one from today's Times instead...

mydquin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mydquin said...

Residential Sales Down, Medians Up in 70% of Markets

wreckingbull said...

Kenneth Harney's infomercials are pretty much just that. Take a look at his bio, and you will see why his hot air is usually ignored around here.

MisterBubble said...

Squawky real-estate parrots have been arguing for years that property values are "sticky" on the downside -- why is this phenomenon suddenly being used as an argument that prices will never fall?

I'm looking at the bigger picture: a year ago, an editorial from Ken Harney on tanking sales volumes would have been as likely as a Democratic senate....

MisterBubble said...

Lonelibertarian -- funny you should mention "Boiler Room"'s listed as one of Merit Girl's favorite movies!

I (heart) irony.

Eleua said...


So, we have beer soaked staff meetings, the drug environment of Burning Man, unhappy X-wives demanding $1M, federal loan laws being violated more ways than Paris Hilton, non-payment of taxes, non-payment of employees, lakefront mansions being redecorated to impress new girlfriends (while wife 1.0 is still looking for her $1M), jock/frat atmosphere, Hooters girls as executives, forging documents, #2 wandering around trying to impress 19yo employees on his relative importance, 45 minutes of training (provided you took BOTH classes)...

It's your classic American business model.

WTF? This guy was featured in '04 CEO magazine, and was voted one of the best places to work in Washington? I get the 'best place to work' (provided you get paid). How can you not like drunk Hooters girls, lots of free cash, and no adult supervision?

When my peers tried this, we made national headlines.

Can anyone remember what the atmosphere was in Seattle at the turn of the century?

Yes, I stand by my assertion that yesterdays dot.commers and daytraders are today's mortgage brokers.

Yes, this is a bubble. The NAZ lost 85% of its value. How much are we going to lose up here?

Matthew said...

Amazing what a pair of silicon enhancements does for you in Seattle......

john_law_the_II said...

eleua- perfect example of the warren buffet saying- it's only when the tide goes out that you see who is swimming naked.

meshugy said...

Here's a load of recent sales data from Ballard Loyal Heights. Most houses going at or over asking which signals a strong sellers market. A few overpriced junkers went for under asking.

First price asking, second is the sold price.

1907 NW Sloop Pl 379,950 385,000
8018 28th Ave NW 564,950 552,500
6521 27th Ave NW 399,000 399,950
1713 NW 80th St 459,000 399,900
7559 26th Ave NW 599,950 590,000
7728 25th Ave NW 425,000 387,500
3220 NW 70 599,950 620,000
7555 23 Ave NW 495,000 512,000
3024 NW 59th St 489,900 505,500
7316 30th Ave NW 469,000 512,500
2815 NW 73rd St 379,950 338,000
6542 20th Ave NW 384,950 380,000
8026 18th Ave NW 399,999 399,999
6702 28th NW 460,000 430,000
2842 NW 73rd St 519,950 519,950
8047 22 Ave NW 480,000 515,500
7306 17th Ave NW 425,000 425,000
7041 20th Ave NW 569,950 569,950
6521 27th Ave NW 399,950 399,950

This one is the star:

8047 22 Ave NW 480,000 515,500

35K over!

Anonymous said...

The Seattle market is still strong, just read these articles. Overall the housing weakness is mainly in regional markets that were vastly overbuilt such as Florida, California, and markets near Ford & GM factories. Seattle is an underdeveloped city and finally catching up to demand. We have much further to go before supply outstrips demand.

This is why I bought a condo right behind the conventon center at the edge of Downtown and First Hill.

The article above says that Seattle has appreciated 17.16% in the last year, 3.66% in 3Q06, and 62.43% over the past 5 years...not nearly as much appreciation as the overextended markets.

Eleua said...

John Law 2,

I've heard that before, and it is soooooooo true.

I like how Fleckenstein put it once:

"I doubt Enron is the only grenade rolling around on the floor."

Like Enron, I doubt Merit Financial is the only grenade rolling around on the floor.

I listen to a lot of radio and these mortgage companies are a real audio blight. I think just about every radio station in Seattle will be out of business when the REIC quits advertising on their stations.

I was discussing this with a lifelong freind, and we both were hung up on one particular concept:

With all the drinking, drugs, divorce, fraud, forgery, tax arrears, payroll default, AG audits, teenage girls working as execs, wife 2.0, return to sender, etc...why did it not occur to the CEO that something was unsustainable about his business? Why did it take the mortgage business going dry before he realized things were not proper?

Second point - what financial institution was bankrolling this guy? How did he get his start? What idiot didn't perform even the slightest hint of due diligence at the guy's business model and practices?

Mr. Banker - "Hmmm, Mr. Husky Football Stud, you want to hire untrained teenage girls and x-jocks to get drunk and drugged up, and give hundreds of thousands of dollars to the weakest people in our economy?"

Football Stud: "Yes. I also want to hire some college drop-out as my #2."

Mr. Banker: "Sounds like a plan to me! How much money do you need to get started? Will $3M suffice?"

Anonymous said...

Ok dont know why the links did not convert correctly, so here they are again.

BTW: Locked in my price at 240K in late estimated at $250k by estimates from neighbors, other units selling nearby, and by these articles, boo ya!

Anonymous said...

just cut and paste seperately to make it work, sorry for the probs.



Grivetti said...

Alright... I gotta hand it to Lizzie Rhodes, that Merit article is some solid reporting on the dot-com-esque refi boom that's sold the Seattle homeowners down the river...

Very refreshing, she deserves props...

Grivetti said...

BTW: Locked in my price at 240K in late estimated at $250k by estimates from neighbors, other units selling nearby, and by these articles, boo ya!

Hahahaha... nice, how much money did you lose on your stock back in the day, dude?

Grivetti said...

Like Enron, I doubt Merit Financial is the only grenade rolling around on the floor.

Nice Eleau, I can see the documentary now "Merti: The dumbest guys in the room", their demise played out like a total low-rent version of Enron... at least Enron 'made money' by thinking up a vapid market that never existed in the first place, but mortgages? Pre-2001, that used to be a viable business model, and they totally blew it, what tools...

Peckhammer said...

"BTW: Locked in my price at 240K in late estimated at $250k by estimates from neighbors,"

LOL! It would cost you more than $10K to sell it and realize your paper profits. Are you for real?

john_law_the_II said...

if I were a up and coming documentary filmmaker I'd heard right for seattle right now and interview these people tomorrow. my documentary would be coming out in a year, right when more of these stories start to come out.

Eleua said...

I just have a dark, sinking feeling that Mr. Scott Greenlaw has a bright future as an airline exec.

Eleua said...

The funniest line in the entire article is the closing paragraph:

"Merit was great fun for five years, but now it's time to move on and give it another shot," Greenlaw said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge of coming back and proving to people who Scott Greenlaw really is."

(Warning! that last link contains some pretty salty language.)

It is nice to see some of the impending tragedy present itself as a bona-fide comedy.

MisterBubble said...

"Here's a load of recent sales data from Ballard Loyal Heights. Most houses going at or over asking which signals a strong sellers market. A few overpriced junkers went for under asking."

Let's count, shall we?

Sold under asking 7
Sold at asking: 5
Solder over asking: 8

Apparently, in ShugyLand, the difference between "a few" and "most" is very small indeed....

Kaleetan said...

"Apparently, in ShugyLand, the difference between "a few" and "most" is very small indeed.... "

Lets divide, shall we?

7 / 20 = %35 of the houses went for less than asking.

13 / 20 = %65 of the house sold at or over asking price.

65% sounds like most to me.

This diffence between a few and most is pretty big actually.

Grivetti said...

65% sounds like most to me...

most: consisting of or amounting to a large but indefinite number...

65% would be considered a majority, most, as per Shugy's vagueries and anecdotal nonesense is par for the course here, why most of his comments can be dismissed outright...

MisterBubble said...

Yeah, yeah....I missed shugy's weasely qualifier when I posted ("at or over asking"). My mistake.

I suppose that in this case, my common sense simply overcame my reading ability. Most businessmen would be surprised to hear that getting their asking price for a product represents a "strong sellers market"....

betamax said...

65% sounds like most to me.

Then 35% must sound like more than a few.

I wouldn't get too excited either way about a sample of 20 - it's just shug with his usual argument: "things have been good lately, ergo they'll stay good forever."

If you want to buy into that, be my guest.

synthetik said...

I still can't believe anyone would -choose- to live in Ballard.