Gorsuch and the State of Administrative Law

photo by Joe Ravi

The United States Supreme Court

I was interviewed by Harold O’Grady on his podcast for the BLS Library Blog about Supreme Court nominee Judge Gorsuch:

This conversation with Brooklyn Law School Professor David Reiss focuses on his recent article Gorsuch, CFPB and Future of the Administrative State. Prof. Reiss talks about the impact that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch would have on the future of administrative law and, in particular, on federal consumer protection enforcement if he is confirmed. Prof. Reiss reviews the case PHH v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit decided last year. It is likely the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court. If so, Justice Gorsuch may vote to curtail the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and limit its enforcement powers. More generally, Prof. Reiss believes that, given previous rulings by Judge Gorsuch in cases dealing with administrative law, a Justice Gorsuch will be a skeptic of agency action and will support greater judicial review of agency actions.

You can find the link to our conversation here.

Risks and Rewards of Downsizing

photo by Lars Plougmann

The Deseret News quoted me in Why The Young and Old Are Embracing The Rewards of Downsizing. It reads, in part,

Not very long ago, living with less implied money problems or a lack of professional success.

No longer. From younger and middle-aged professionals to retirees, more people are embracing the rewards of “downsizing” — a term that can mean anything from ridding yourself of unnecessary possessions to opting for a less spacious home.

“Downsizing your home can make sense,” said artist and designer Pablo Solomon. “You can save on energy costs, insurance, taxes and upkeep.”

But don’t cart stuff out to the dumpster or plant the “for sale” sign in the front yard just yet. First, consider the varied ways that downsizing can streamline your life.

Home, sweet (downsized) home

One of the most ready targets for would-be downsizers is their home. Perhaps they’ve recently retired and want to retire extensive upkeep responsibilities as well. By contrast, younger people might embrace the greater simplicity that can come from a home that better matches their lifestyle.

But downsizing is not the remedy for other issues, Solomon said, that need a different — and sometimes less costly — approach: “Don’t downsize to be part of a trend or fad or to escape depression or make a ‘statement,’” he said.

Approach downsizing your home as you would any sort of housing decision. Consider space, amenities and any associated costs — only from a particularly budget-conscious perspective.

“Think about the long-term needs you will have for the next 20 to 30 years. Don’t select a place to live temporarily — the costs of moving are high and the cost of buying and selling homes is also high,” said Linda P. Jones, host of the “Be Wealthy & Smart” podcast. “Think before you make a decision and be sure about the move you are making so you won’t have to do it again.”

Another way to approach downsizing a home is what Jodi Holzband of the self-storage search website Sparefoot referred to as “rightsizing” — beginning with basic living requirements and, from there, thoughtfully adding on those features that are of genuine importance.

“Focus first on your needs — essential living items like your bed, clothing and toiletries,” she said. “Then focus on what you love or value — the touchstones of life such as pictures, memorabilia from home, vacation souvenirs, high school pennants and varsity jackets. Look to the space you have and limit what you take in this second category based on space.”

Lastly, don’t ignore possible tax consequences of moving into a smaller space. For instance, retirees who have owned a home for a long time may have acccumulated a great deal of equity. As David Reiss, a professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, noted, capital gains that exceed a certain amount (generally, $250,000 for one person, $500,000 for a married couple) are taxable. Check with a tax professional to gauge your situation.

Showdown at the Dakota

"The Dakota May 2005" by Makemake at the German language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Dakota_May_2005.jpg#/media/File:The_Dakota_May_2005.jpg

Jeremy Cohen, a partner with Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, and I discussed a lawsuit brought by a New York City co-op owner who says he’s been unable to move into his apartment at the famed Dakota coop for 16 years.

We spoke with June Grasso on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law” show. The podcast of the show is here and the complaint in the case is here. A Bloomberg news story summarizes the allegations:

Robert Siegel, chief executive officer of Metropole Realty Advisors Inc., said in his lawsuit that he paid $2.23 million in 1999 for an apartment at the Dakota and has never spent a night there because the board refused to approve his renovation plans and took part of his unit as storage space for the building. He’s seeking $55 million in damages and a court order allowing him to make the renovations.

“These bad-faith acts foreclosed the possibility of Mr. Siegel constructing bedrooms there and thus ensured that the apartment could not be used by Mr. Siegel and his family,” according to the June 29 complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court.

Before buying the street-level duplex at the building on 72nd Street and Central Park West — once home to celebrities such as John Lennon and Lauren Bacall — Siegel got permission from the co-op board to convert the lower level into four bedrooms with air conditioning for his children, according to the lawsuit. Once the sale was complete, the board said it would only approve Siegel’s plans if he agreed to buy additional shares of Dakota co-operative stock for $1.8 million, which would about double his monthly maintenance charges, according to the complaint.

After Siegel refused to make the additional payments, the board voted to reclassify half of Siegel’s apartment as “non-habitable storage space,” according to the lawsuit. The board also barred him from adding air conditioning or ventilation to the lower level, thereby making it unsuitable for bedrooms, according to the complaint.

Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever

I was interviewed on the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever with Joe Fairless podcast. The interview, How to Negotiate the Interest Rate on Your Mortgage Down…A LOT, went live today. The teaser for the show reads,

Today’s Best Ever guest shares just how important it is to do you due diligence with everything. From negotiating the interest rate on your mortgage rate down to an unheard of number, to learning about different zoning codes and what they mean to you.

The interview runs about half an hour. I always like to be invited to speak on a long-form program because I can go into greater depth about things that I think are important. I also got a chance to discuss some topics that usually only come up in my Real Estate Practice class.

The Best Ever Real Estate Investing Advice Ever show is one of the highest rated investing podcasts on iTunes, up there with Suze Orman, Jim Cramer, Marketplace, Motley Fool, NPR and the Wall Street Journal. The show is sold with some hype, but it was a substantive discussion, geared to the newish real estate investor. All in all, this was a fun interview to do.