Monthly Archives: August 2003

NACA screws own clients

As it turns out, the buyer for my old house fell through. The agency that was guaranteeing his financing, NACA, required him to consult with them on the Home Inspection Contingency (which he had already sent to me, and I had already countered once). Before he could counter-offer my counter-offer, they determined that there were a number of code-compliance issues that they insisted on having the seller fix. Here’s the catch: they could not explain to the buyer (their client) what they thought should be fixed in sufficient detail that he could actually request it. They refused to put their demands in writing, and refused to talk to my agent (the seller’s agent).

So, as he was legally obligated to do, the buyer sent over a release letter, essentially bailing out of the deal. I was quite disappointed and angry, because I’d wasted two weeks of the peak selling season on a deal that fell through. Caveat vendor. Likewise, the buyer not only wasted his time and effort, but had paid for a professional home inspection of a house he ended up not being able to buy because NACA was unresponsive and uncommunicative.

For me, the story has a happy ending. My agent called me with the news on a Saturday, saying that he had the release, and would put the house back on the market in the Major Listing Service (MLS). On Sunday, I went over to mow the lawn and clean the place up (again). While I was there, a couple came by to look at the house. On Monday morning, I had a new contract from that couple, with a real financing letter, $500 better offer (net), and a requested closing date only one day later than the old contract. So cross your fingers, I’ve got another contract that I feel much better about.

puerile humor

Taco Bell is conducting some sort of sweepstakes where customers can win a year’s worth of free Taco Bell food, with a grand prize of a year’s worth of free gas. I’m left thinking… isn’t that basically the same thing?

virtual tour

A couple of days ago, I put together a virtual tour of our new house. Note that the pictures were taken back in July, and we’ve made progress since then: boxes unpacked, rooms painted, baby-gear purchased, trees sprayed, pictures hung, et cetera.

I’m planning to enhance the tour script at some point in the future to allow time-travel, so that a virtual visitor can see how the place changes over time. Any bets on when, if ever, I get around to this?

stroller shopping

So on Sunday, Zette took me to Babies-R-Us to go shopping for baby-stuff. We ended up spending 3+ hours trying to pick out a car seat and/or stroller system. In the end, we reached no firm conclusions. Because of her disability, Zette isn’t sure she’ll ever use a detachable infant car seat to carry the baby, and she’s not sure she can realistically fold and maneuver any of the larger strollers.

We strongly considered the Graco Metrolite Travel System which is pretty lightweight. This is what I think I’d go for, given the choice, but I’m not the one with significant physical disabilites. She’s more interested in a strap-on chest carrier, and a convertible car seat (meaning it converts from rear-facing seat to front-facing seat to booster seat). [UPDATE: She bought the chest carrier for cheap on eBay.]

I guess it’s a sign that I’m getting into this fatherhood thing when I can spend three hours shopping for strollers and wonder where the time went.

fighting predatory lending

I’ve signed a contract to sell the duplex. It’s a good offer except that the buyer asked for 30 days for a financing contingency, which seems like a very long time to have my house in limbo for this market. The contract did include a pre-approval letter from an organization called NACA, but NACA isn’t a financial institution, so the contingency is still there.

I’m not sure exactly what NACA really is. It seems to be an advocate organization for people who are targets of predatory lending. Or perhaps it’s an collective to extort money from banks. Or both.

From what I can tell, NACA extorts banks into giving loans to working people with bad credit, usually poor to middle income people. The founder described himself as a “Bank Terrorist”… in 2000, of course. Since 2001, people would be more cautious with that label. I found that quote on the google cache of NACA’s web site. That article doesn’t appear in their press clippings section any more. Apparently it’s been redacted. But the original article apparently ran on 2000-11-12 in The Boston Globe, titled, “Activist bringing Fleet fight to N.J.”, by SAM ALI, Star-Ledger Staff.

So basically this guy (Bruce Marks, founder of NACA) provides training to people who have bad credit and want to get a home loan. In exchange for participating in at least five civil actions against predatory lenders, he’ll get them the loan they want at great rates.

He then uses these people to stage protests against banks that want to merge, say, and need consent of local governments. He makes the banks look sufficiently bad that they beg him to go away. Which he does, if the bank guarantees a few billion dollars of loans through his program. Circle closed.

NACA may well do some other things that are also positive and neighborhood strengthening. Here’s another nice article about them.

I think this is fascinating. It’s inspired. It’s devious. It’s possibly criminal. It may be helping me to sell my house.


I was watching TV last weekend, and I ran across a show on the new TNN called Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. Basically, it’s an old Japanese game show where contestants compete for prizes by doing silly, and sometimes dangerous stunts. Added to this is voice-over of American comics doing fake translation. You end up with something pretty humorous, if you’ve got a taste for slapstic comedy. Normally I don’t, but maybe I was just in the right mood; the show had me laughing out loud.

Following this show was a made-up sport called “Slamball“. Slamball is like basketball, except that there are trampolines embedded in the court, four on each side, near the net. And there’s plexiglass surrounding the court, kinda like hockey. They portray it like it’s a real sport that’s gonna catch on. And who knows, it might. I found it significantly more entertaining to watch than real basketball, but maybe that’s just because of the novelty. I’ve never been a big sports fan of any kind, really.

Suzette got me to watch the Tour de France this year, and occasionally I follow the New England Patriots, and I’ve gotten interested in some sailing races. Le Race and the America’s Cup. I’m not a sports fan, but I might have to start watching Slamball. Trampolines are fun.