Water Strider

What I think About

The Beginning – Part 3

Now that the question has been posed, where to go from here? Lacking any method of verification we will have to accept that there was a coherent first thought.  But what was it? Did it take the form of  a question, an idea, an observation or perhaps an ‘expletive deleted’?  It would be too perverse to think that at the moment of falling of a cliff or in the jaws of some ferocious beast we thought “Should’ve gone the other way!!!”

It is really most challenging to undertake this journey through our prehistoric brain.

For those of you who may be reading this blog and its occasional updates, please let me hear from you lest you wish for me to be the proverbial tree in the forest about which everyone wonders if it makes a noise when there is no one to hear it.


December 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Beginning – Part 2

So here we are about to drift off into what later will be called ‘The Arms of Morpheus’, but right now it is not to be. We’re thinking. It is really hard to imagine how this process evolved. The first thought – going from purely instictive reaction to ‘hey, there has to be a better way’. This is major. It is the seed of an interminable chain of events which connects us to the present time. What about the second thought? Did it come right after the first or was there the need to digest the event? Surely there are lots of smart people who are working on the problem right now – invesitgating how the brain works, wracking their brains about how to phrase the questions, torturing willing test subject into giving up their inner most secrets.  But will it work?  What questions can be asked of someone who has already the information and capacities of millenia of generations when they are born?

No, we’ll have to try a little harder to figure this out.  The task is really simple – The first thought – defined by volition or spontaneity, it does not really matter.  What matters is to find out the trigger.  Why and how did it occur?  Was it isolated in one individual or did it occur simultaneously in many and many locations? If there were two or more first thinkers, did they live together? Was it something in the water?  If there wer more than one, was the trigger the same? It becomes obvious that this is a real mess to untangle and that untangling might not be possible. But let’s not chicken out so fast. The question of single or multiple can be put aside for the time being as our focus remains on the process.  Given early human biology it would be reasonable to assume that capacities were very similar no matter which part of Africa this first thought was occurring.

So, it happens. The synapses begin to fire.  But what is it? Did we think about the bug nibbling on our toe or how  to get that elusive gazelle?  This requires some real thinking! There will be no sleep tonight.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Beginning

To get a handle on this idea, we’ll have to go back a bit – 2.5 million years will do – to the stone age. Here we are sitting around the camp fire working up some nifty tools to bring down tomorrow’s dinner.  As the light fades and a sky crowded with stars appears, we might look up and wonder: “What is going on up there?” Mind you, with no light pollution from cities yet to be thought of and built, this sky is very intense and very near.  The dying fire crackles but still gives off some good warmth.  It is too dark to work on the tools now.  The insect orchestra plays a call and response tune in a syncopated rhythm.  As we’re trying to catch some ZZZs we begin to wonder: What are those red things that shoot out of the fire? What are those red things that streak the night sky? the questions themselves are not of great importance in this discussion, but what does matter is the concept of purpose. 

In the previous few million years we as humans have worked out the correlation between action and result.  Along the way we have become aware that not all actions produce the desired result and that purpose defines both action and result. All this was limited to our small sphere of influence – the things we could see, touch and affect. But what about all the other stuff – the far away?  There are more questions than answers.  What is the driving force behind this desire to understand?  Mere survival instinct does not provide sufficent reason, given the rest of the animal kingdom.  While other species, including our closest relatives the apes, have evolved and learned new behavior, humans have learned and adapted with blazing speed.  While there have been substantial changes over time in human physiology, it is the our brain and its every increasing capacities that is at the center of this change. Before we continue with the story let me just say that I am not bent on reviewing all of human history and development.  My interest is more mis-en-scene imagining of the little steps which turned out to be  quantum leaps.

March 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Name Change and other Thoughts

Yet another iteration of this effort: The new name – Water Strider – represents my hero. I mean here is a living entity that has made the best of a bad situation. Think about it, floating on water, not able to fly.  The fish below look at you as a meal and the occasional swooping bird might think of you as a snack. And should those fabulous legs give out you drown. But, aah, to float and move about that liquid surface and be able to exploit the marvelous physics of nature!

Now that we are afloat, saved from an unpleasant end by surface tension, let us ponder our first topic:  What is it all about? There are many learned opinions for us to choose from if we feel uncomfortable forming our own, but how can we arrive at an answer which will work for us individually?

When we start out it, although perplexing, it is mostly about figuring out what things are called and how they work.  A little bit later, it becomes about manipulating the world – eating, walking, getting up and down the stairs.  All the time we collect information about what is and what is not.  Slowly daily life begins to take shape as does our awareness of it. Young adulthood, with all it’s triumphs and vexations, brings with it the beginnings of the question.  “Am I really going to use trigonometry in my life?”, or “Do I have to read all of The Iliad or will Cliff Notes do the job?”  A little bit later on it becomes more serious: “Why am I working 18 hour days and I still don’t have any money?”  There is it is – The Question! What to do for an answer?  Where to look, whom to ask? The journey begins.

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Exactly Is Going On?

Much is being written about the state of the economy and the New York City real estate market. One thing that is fairly obvious that many buyers and sellers have begun to breathe again after a long period of holding their breath and are now buying and selling. The main reason for this is not the economy or the news, but rather necessity. We all need to live somewhere. If our current abode is no longer in concert with our needs or abilities we must change it. With current real estate prices, both rental and sale, at levels not seen in a long time, there is much opportunity to make that change. The sub-prime debacle has disappeared but merely faded from public view. All those toxic assets are still somewhere waiting to be dealt with. So, what has happened?

The media, and, therefore public attention have moved elsewhere. Concerns about an unruly Wall Street crowd, the moral behavior of elected officials or others in the public eye have replaced our fears about the state of the economy.

What does all this have to do with deciding whether to buy or sell a home? It has very little and quite a lot to do at the same time. Very little is if you have the money, the job to support your purchase and the need to move. Very little is if you have lost your job or substantial assets and need to sell your home. Both are situations where action can and must be taken. Quite a lot is because our attention has been withdrawn from what seemed an overriding crisis in which we were all participants. We were not. We were only standing on the sidelines while others had their way with our money.

It is not my habit to cite others but this bit of advice came from Jeffrey Gitomer:
“Pay more attention to YOUR world than you do to THE world.”
If you do then the task of deciding whether to buy or sell a home becomes relatively simple, based on an assessment of your requirements and not on something as far away as reaching Mars in the next 20 years. KSS logic always works.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | 1 Comment

To those of you who have been kind enough to read my posts regarding NYC Real Estate I am thankful.  If you wish to contact me in the future regarding this subject I would be more than happy to help you in your search for understanding of what is happenening in the current  market.  However there are many sites that aggregate information on a more timely basis than I have been able to do.  Also it has never been my intention to be a collector of other peoples thought.  You all are smart and savvy enough to pound the keybord to find the information you are looking for.  What I will do, going forward, is voice my opinion on a periodic basis about what I think you all might want to consider as the motivation for what you do, now and in the future.

April 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Way Forward

Finding your way in the current market can be very, very difficult. There is a great deal of information coming at you, the First Time Buyer. While not all of it is conflicting, there is certainly a lot to be sifted through: The Stock Market has been acting like a yo yo with a few knots in the string – first down, then up, then down down down, then up and up some more. What does this do to your financial profile? Your 401K and other retirement vehicles, if invested in the market, have take a big hit. Your other liquid assets are probably in no better shape unless they are stashed under the proverbial mattress. But, there is also a lot of good news. Prices for Manhattan apartments have come down substantially since the beginning of 2009 and there is a great deal more inventory. Mortgage rates are low and according to the latest news once again below 5% and likely to fall further.  And the new administration is making great efforts to get liquidity back into lending.

What does all this mean to the First Time Buyer? Go and visit a lot of open houses.  The brokers will be glad to see you and spend more time answering your question than they have in the past when the pace was fast and furious.  This is your chance to educate yourself on what it all looks like.  As I have said before this is a wide open window of opportunity. You should be go to neighborhoods which have been out of your price range. You should look at apartments which are above your price range. If your financial situation is in good shape and you have contacted a mortgage broker or lender if you need financing, your moment in the sun has arrived. You will be able to make a great deal.

March 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Home Buyer Tax Credit

If you are asking yourself if the time to buy is NOW, the current economic stimulus package before Congress may help in making this decision.  According to an article in the New York Times today the Senate voted yesterday to include a tax credit for home buyers of up to $15,000.  This means the government wants help you achieve your goal:  A Home Of Your Own. Certainly rents are holding steady or even declining as landlords make every effort to keep their buildings full of tenants.  But, ask yourself:  Am I building equity? Am I building long term financial stability? Although real estate does not have the short term ability to turn into cash as do other investments, it has an unequalled stability of value.  Manhattan apartment prices may go down but will always retain some value, unlike the stock of some of your favorite investment banks.
Another point to consider is the level of interest rates which are exceptionally low.  One bank quoted the following rates as of yesterday:

Regular Conforming Loans (up to $417,000 loan amount) with 10% down payment = 5.125%.                                                                                  High Balance conforming Loans (up to $625,000 loan amount) with 15% down payment (20% for co-ops = 5.375%                                            Jumbo Loans (above $625,000 loan amount) with 30% down payment = 6.5%

Coupled with the often mentioned reduction in asking and actual selling prices of Manhattan apartment prices, this spells OPPORTUNITY.  The inventory of New York City apartments for sale is rising.  Those who need to sell are being more realistic about their sale prices and therefore willing to consider offers which they might have scoffed at in recent times past. The present market is definitely a Buyer’s Market. 




February 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I was at a closing yesterday (yes, apartments are being bought and sold) and I could not help but marvel at the great atmosphere.  Buyer and seller exchanging pleasant words, attorneys telling jokes and even the bank representative was in a great mood. The main reason for all this jolliness was the team work.  Real estate agents and lawyers working for their clients to make it happen.  The reason I mention it is to  emphasize the importance of the post below.  If you spend time getting ready and assembling a great team to work for you the chances for getting the apartment you want at a great price are much, much greater.


Your Team

The most crucial part of purchasing a new home is to assemble a capable team of professionals to advise you throughout the process:  A Mortgage Lender/Broker to get pre-approved for a loan.  Pre-approval means that you will be able to get financing for your purchase. Now that you have gotten the financial paperwork together this part will be pretty easy. The second member of your team should be a New York City Real Estate Attorney.  This is someone who knows the ins and outs of real estate transactions and contracts here in the city.  Once you find an apartment you want to buy, time is of the essence.  This means you have to be able to move quickly and without a lawyer that is not possible. The third member of your team should be a Licensed Real Estate Agent.  This is the quarterback of your team.  He or she will you help find the apartment you will eventually buy. They will search all the available listings to find those which fit your needs and lifestyle, schedule the necessary appointments, negotiate on your behalf and coordinate the purchase with the lender, attorneys and, if need be, calm you down when you get the jitters.


How do you find the members of your team?  Ask your friends and colleagues for referrals.  Request a consultation so that you can evaluate professionalism, integrity and fit.  There are many qualified professionals in this industry, but not all of them are right for you.  So it is worth spending some time to find those who you can work with.


A good starting point is the real estate agent because you will spend the most time with them and they can guide you in finding the others.  It is their knowledge of what is on the market and where that will help you refine your choices.  An experienced agent will ask you a lot of questions to help focus your search, save you time, money and a lot of sweat and anxiety. 


January 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment




Now and Then

Now and Then

The stock market is crashing.  The housing market has tanked and you have decided to buy and apartment in New York City.  In this time of crazy numbers, price drops and uncertainty buying your first home could probably be the scariest thing you have tried.  You worry about when is the right time, how much lower will the market go, am I buying at a price that is too high? Sure there are a lot of nail biting questions about the How, What and When. How much money can I afford to spend?  How much will it cost me every month? How much money do I need after the purchase to stay afloat? What suits my needs? What neighborhood? What is the benefit of ownership versus renting? There are a lot of voices that counsel you to stay under the mattress with your money and there are others that say this is the time of opportunity.  Only hindsight will confirm who was right.  My guess is neither one.


To quote Teddy Roosevelt: “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

 Buying your first home is not and should not be primarily an investment decision. Looking back, real estate has always increased in value over time, sometimes more sometimes less.  But, if you are not an investor or a nomad, this new home will be the place where you live and should plan to stay awhile, probably about 5 years to get your money back and then some. 

This Blog is about giving you information that you can use to make your decision.  Along the way you will learn what some of the important things are you must do to reach your goal:  The New Home.

Simple steps, one at a time, will help you navigate the daunting road to the home of your dreams.

Let’s begin at the beginning.  Before you rush to your computer to begin an online search, pore over the Sunday paper for listings, go to open houses or ask your friends if they know of…Buying a home can be a nerve wracking process, but it does not have to be that way. Think about what you are about to do:  You are planning a lifestyle change and preparing for the future.

When is the best time to buy?  When you are ready!  Getting ready really means getting prepared.  This is probably the driest and least pleasant part of the process, so it is advisable to get it out of the way first. It is a bit like training to run the marathon.  You need to get in shape if you want to cross the finish line.  Click on Finances in the upper right –  next to About Sepp for the for getting started on step 1 – getting your finances organized.

January 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment