I am in nostalgia mode. Perhaps it shows my age, but I can not help but think about that loveable pink lion “Snagglepuss”.

After reading this post you may want to order the snagglepuss refrigerator magnet shown on the left. If so, I certainly can understand.

Enquiring minds can also preview a brief audio of “Exit Stage Left” here (The audio is free).

Before I could even ask, the telepathic thought lines were flooded with calls. “Mish what does Snagglepuss’s “Exit Stage Left” have to do with the economy?

“Heavens To Murgatroid” I am pleased to announce that staging exits has once again taken center stage. Of course I have proof. Here it is:

Home Staging Tips

Barbara Corcoran has Tips for Staging Your Home. Now she does not say if it is an exit stage left or an exit stage right but she does say that “Simple Changes May Translate to Big Bucks”. Let’s take a look:

If you’re selling your house, you should probably be staging it.

“It’s always best to your put your best foot forward in any situation, and this is a way for your house to put its best foot forward,” said real estate guru Barbara Corcoran.

Fixing up your home, or “staging” it, as the real estate business calls it, can raise your selling price anywhere from five to 20 percent, Corcoran says.

Here are her tips for staging your house.

Clean your house. A filthy bathroom is the worst, second only to a dirty kitchen.

Let the light in. Wash your windows, because dirty windows keep out light. And open the shades. Basically, people like light, so if your rooms have dark colors, you might want to consider repainting them.

De-clutter your house. Clutter makes your house look small and unloved.

Take a whiff. If your house has an odor, that’s a huge turnoff. Make it smell nice. You might need an air filter.

Fix up the bathroom. First of all, make sure it’s clean. Then, see how you can spruce it up. At the very least, re-caulk any areas that are falling apart.

Examine your front door. That’s the first thing people will see. Does it need a coat of fresh paint?

Send your pets to grandma’s house. A barking dog is unwelcoming. Plus, people might be allergic to yor pets.

The question I have is “Should it take a ‘guru’ to figure that out? I mean seriously, how can one take plain common sense and put a “staging” label on it? I think Snagglepuss had more common sense. Whenever Snagglepuss was in trouble he exited “Stage Left” although on rare occasions he did exit “Stage Right”. Whether left or right, it should now be clear that the stages are being exited, sometimes by auction and somtimes by bankruptcy or other liquidation.

Bargain Basement Prices

The Palm Beach Post is reporting Bargain Basement Auction Prices.

Luxe properties go for bargain at Tesoro auction.
The gavel slammed down almost as soon as the bidding had started. In minutes. As fast as the words could tumble out of the mouth of the auctioneer, whose voice buzzed like a bumblebee: Sold for $165,000.

“We’re in the basement, folks,” the auctioneer said. “What a bargain.”

Promising “prices we have not seen in years,” auction organizers said the sea of sellers looking to unload properties was anything but a poor reflection of the Tesoro communities.

Trademark the Obvious

It seems “StagedHomes” is now a trademarked name.

The way you live in a home and the way you sell it are two different things. That’s the premise of “Staging”, a hot new trend that’s sweeping the country. In any real estate market, Staged Homes sell faster or sell for more money or both! In Home Staging, readers learn how to play up a home’s strong points and improve its presentation. This book helps readers look at their houses through the buyer’s eyes. From repairing a broken step and clearing out the clutter to trimming those overgrown bushes and painting a room, Home Staging shows readers how to play up a home’s strengths and minimize its weaknesses.

Plan “B”

Not all of our modern day Snagglepusses staged an exit at the right time.
Please consider They had a plan, then reality intruded.

A group of friends who set out to buy, fix up and “flip” a Palm Springs tract house haven’t found the riches they were seeking. Four friends thought they could ‘flip’ a house, but cost overruns, bad timing got in the way.

In August, the four bought a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,900-square-foot home that seemed like a good-enough deal at $425,000. Houses in Palm Springs had been appreciating consistently, and other homes on the same street were listed for considerably more. The plan was to spend $60,000 fixing up the house, then sell it in two months for about $650,000. According to Haughey’s calculations, the profit would be $60,000 after all expenses, taxes and commissions, or $15,000 for each partner.

Spirits were high when the project began. The friends worked full time during the week and then spent weekends in Palm Springs on their project. They visited tile stores, drove around neighborhoods looking at paint colors, dined at their favorite local restaurants and generally enjoyed their time together.

But as the renovation went forward, the budget crept up to $67,000, mainly because the kitchen and bathrooms cost more than expected. The kitchen got a luxury makeover with oak cabinets, some with frosted glass doors, plus brushed aluminum hardware and granite counters.

The house went on the market in early November. [It’s now April and there is still no sale]. The house is now listed for $629,000, and if it sells for that, each partner will pocket just $5,000.

“It’s not risk-free,” Nina Smith said of her first foray into speculative remodeling. “I need to better educate myself on finding a better property.”

And if the house doesn’t sell for the current price?

“We have all discussed Plan B,” Scalero said. “The possibility of turning it into a vacation rental. We’ve been told that weekly rentals go for around $1,500.”

Ah yes, the infamous “Plan B”. They could not sell it for a profit in six months, pray tell what makes them think they can rent it in another six months? Even if they can, how long will all four of them be happy about the carrying costs? The good side is that those costs are now split four ways. But what is going to happen in those situations where one person is holding six mortgages hoping to flip them? If you think that scenario is not realistic then please check out 6 PROPERTIES, SELLER WILLING TO HOLD FINANCING

I am an investor selling the following properties. I am willing to hold financing so you can buy with no money down and in some cases, I am willing to stay on, FREE OF CHARGE, to continue to manage the existing tenants.

That poor guy wants to “Exit Stage Left” but the doors are now closed both left and right. Nationwide, the stage doors are getting tighter and tighter with every uptick in rates. Fewer and fewer speculators will be able to make it safely through the exit doors.

Mish note: The above appeared in a recent issue of Whiskey and Gunpowder. Since then I have come across more examples of staging and exits. Here goes:

Even home builders are into staging. Toll Brothers is staging easter egg hunts and refrigerator doors.

A refrigerator magnet in a Toll Brothers home may have a message to a fictitious family member about a relative that has to be picked up at a train station, demonstrating that mass transit is nearby. Or, a school jersey hung in a bedroom of the model home serves as a reminder of a good school district.

In addition to personal notes and school jerseys, Toll Brothers’ marketing involves staging Easter egg hunts, Halloween parades as well as charity events or PTA meetings — another reminder of a neighborhood’s school system — within a development.

George Pintye, a real estate agent in Hernando County Florida just sent me this nifty exit strategy by insurance companies: Strapped insurers flee coastal areas.

With the 2006 hurricane season starting in just five weeks, many home insurers from Texas to Florida to New York are canceling policies along the coast or refusing to sell new ones out of fear of another catastrophic storm.

In the widest insurance retreat from coastal property since Hurricane Andrew slammed Florida in 1992, insurers as far north as Long Island, N.Y., and Cape Cod, Mass., are shedding coastal homeowners policies to reduce their exposure.

In Florida alone, insurers that are undercapitalized or fearful of losses have notified the state of plans to cancel more than 500,000 homeowners policies. With $2 trillion each in coastal property, Florida and New York lead the USA in coastal exposure, followed by Texas and Massachusetts.

Companies including Allstate, the USA’s second-biggest property insurer, say forecasts of more major hurricanes combined with soaring coastal real estate development have created unacceptable risk in some areas.

Last year’s hurricanes cost insurers a record $60 billion in claims payouts. Now Allstate, which paid out a record $5 billion in hurricane claims last year, is canceling 95,000 policies in Florida and 28,000 in New York.

•Florida. Amid mass policy cancellations, state officials are declaring a crisis. Because mortgage lenders require home insurance, affected policyholders must find other insurance, probably at higher cost. Near the coast, annual premiums of several thousand dollars now rival a mortgage’s cost. Florida’s state-run insurer of last resort, which must provide insurance if no other company will, has a record 815,000 policies and a $1.7 billion deficit. At the urging of state Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, a judge Tuesday began placing Florida’s No. 3 home insurer, Poe Financial, into receivership because it lacks adequate reserves.

•Texas. Allstate just announced it won’t write any new homeowners policies in 14 coastal Texas counties. Texas’ insurer of last resort, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, has only $1.2 billion in cash and reserves going into the new hurricane season. The association wants to raise rates 19% on homes and 24% on businesses.

•New York. Allstate says it won’t write any new homeowners policies in New York City, Long Island or Westchester County. Although Long Island hasn’t been struck by a major hurricane since 1938, “The probability exists for New York to be hit,” says Trevino. MetLife also is cutting back on new homeowners policies near the coast. New York’s legislature is considering a bill to create a permanent, state-run insurer of last resort to provide wind and fire insurance for coastal homes.

Following are George Pintye’s comments:

Hi Mike,
USA today has basically sounded the death knell for the Florida real estate market:

I still can’t get my head around the 500,000 figure. And now, the State’s # 3 insurer is going into receivership? Wonderful.

And need I mention that we’ve recently lost buyers (even one deal at the closing table) because of the outrageous premiums required for homeowner’s insurance?

Its painful to think about what’s going to happen to Florida this summer, much more as a homeowner and resident then a real esate agent.

Best Regards,

Let’s finish up with one of the worst stage exits in history. Play the video and I am sure you will agree. Just don’t let it happen to you.

Mike Shedlock / Mish/