Another Teardown

From the WSJ:

Atlanta’s most notorious pink elephant is about to go the way of the dinosaur.

Dean Gardens, a huge, and very pink, mansion finally sold, after 15 years on the market and a whopping $25 million price reduction. The buyer plans on demolishing the 32,000 square-foot home, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

But, before the wrecking ball strikes the Atlanta-area abode,  the contents are up for grabs. Gala events are planned for Aug. 20-21 and Aug. 28, and what’s left over will be auctioned off, with some of the proceeds donated to charity, homeowner Larry Dean tells Developments. He’s been living in the ornate digs.

Attendees can glimpse gilded rooms that cost more than $5 million to fill: There’s a nursery with a carousel theme, a diner-inspired game room with a jukebox and soda fountain and the peacock room featuring a cappuccino bar and a 4,000-pound English limestone table sitting atop a steel beam buried under the home.

The house comes with an 18-hole golf course, amphitheater and wedding chapel. It spent years on the market, with price tags ranging from $20 million to $40 million. The selling price is said to top $10.5 million, but Mr. Dean, a self-made millionaire who was in the software business, would not confirm the final number.

The eight-bedroom mansion that took more than four years to build was to be the dream home for Mr. Dean and his wife Lynda Dean,

according to the AJC. But they separated not long after its 1992 debut and have since divorced.

“It’s not sad,” Mr. Dean says. “The operating expenses far exceeded my expectations. It was a beautiful place, but a very expensive place to run.”  Mr. Dean has about 60 days to leave his home. He doesn’t know where he’ll go next. Still, “I’m ready to leave,” he says.

There is a Facebook group working to save this pink palace.

Turko on Nantucket Part 2

Barratt is the owner of the lot that’s designated for the low-income house. The reason it’s just sitting there is because they are in bankruptcy court, which has to wrap up sooner or later. Bank of America doesn’t have anything to do with the lot being highlighted, but they are actively soliciting offers for Nantucket 2.

We’ll have more on this story:

Double Down in La Jolla

This footage was taken in December when both houses were for sale.  The agent had told me that he would submit our offers of $1.2 each, that is until a female agent said she’d submit the same, and he forgot all about me.

Later he raised the prices to $1.5 million each, and mentioned in the remarks that they were approved short sales.  The house that owed $4,195,000 was foreclosed last week – the opening bid was $1.25 million, and no takers. WaMu has about the same amount out on the other house too:


From the L.A. Times:

Nicolas Cage is leaving Bel-Air. And not by choice.  The fate of the sprawling Tudor mansion owned by the actor, who won an Oscar for his role in “Leaving Las Vegas,” was decided Wednesday far from the baronial estate.  It was up for auction Wednesday morning — along with a handful of other foreclosed properties — on the steps of the county courthouse in Pomona.

After a rapid-fire spiel by the auctioneer, the bidding was opened at $10.4 million, far less than the $35 million that Cage had tried unsuccessfully to sell the house for.

To put it mildly, the house, though impressive, was not to everyone’s taste. Real estate agent Bret Parsons, who toured it most recently in October, described the interiors as “fascinating and bizarre.”  “The design was ‘frat house bordello,’ ” Parsons said. “There must have been 300 comic book covers elaborately framed and hanging on the walls.”  Model train sets on raised tracks a couple feet below the ceiling circled the inside of the breakfast room and two bedrooms.

There were also no takers in the courthouse sale, and in less than a minute the auction closed, with ownership reverting to the foreclosing lender — just one of six holding a total of $18 million in loans on the property.

The pattern of repeated borrowing against equity is familiar to Bob Baker, sales manager of County Records Research, a Huntington Beach-based company that supplies information about foreclosure properties.  “This is a microcosm of what’s going on in our state,” Baker said. “We’ve seen as many as 13 loans on a house.”  When people keep borrowing, he said, it has “a snowball effect.” The final loans often are taken out to meet expenses, he said. “It’s a survival tactic.”

This is not the only property lost to foreclosure by Cage, who was ranked last year by Forbes as the fifth-highest-paid actor in the U.S. with earnings of $40 million.  Cage’s publicist said the actor could not be reached for comment.

In October, Cage sued his former business manager, Samuel J. Levin.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, accused Levin of having “lined his pockets with several million dollars in business management fees while leading Cage down a path toward financial ruin.”

Levin filed his own countersuit, describing Cage as setting off “on a spending binge of epic proportions” and states that by July 2008 Cage owned “15 palatial homes around the world,” four yachts, an island in the Bahamas, a private Gulfstream jet and millions in art and jewelry.

The Bel-Air manse, at 11,817 square feet, has a central tower, custom wine cellar, 35-seat home theater, six bedrooms, nine bathrooms and an Olympic-size pool.

Borrowing against it included a first mortgage of $425,000 in 2005 and, in 2007, a second of $10.35 million and a third of $5.5 million.

The fourth, fifth and sixth loans, totaling $2.1 million, all came in 2008.

The courthouse event practically eliminated the lenders’ chances to collect on the last four loans because they’re no longer secured by the real estate.

Pathetic MLS

There has been a wave of deceit being perpetrated by realtors around the county – listing agents who inflict short-sale negotiator fees upon the buyers of their listings.

If a listing agent needs help processing a short sale, they should pay for it, not the buyer.

What’s worse is that this fee is either camouflaged, or not disclosed at all until after the offer is accepted.  I have been involved with transactions having short-sale negotiator fees as high as 2% of the sales price.

People have been complaining, so Sandicor, the company that runs our MLS, finally addressed it on the system’s home page:

“There are numerous questions that our industry is faced with based on the climate of today’s market.  Sandicor is seeking to find answers for those issues that directly relate to the MLS.  A very popular question pertains to the use of a short sale negotiator and the fees associated with negotiator services.  After seeking legal counsel it was determined that it is only necessary to disclose the amount the buyer’s agent is being offered through the MLS and if necessary the formula the listing agent will be using to make that offer.  If the listing agent cannot determine that amount by using the CBB field(e.g. X.96%), then the listing agent shall disclose the formula in the CFR (CFR = confidential remarks).

What IS allowed in the CFR:

“Any reduction in commission to be split xx/xx “minus X%”.

What is NOT allowed in the CFR:

“Any reduction in commission to be split xx/xx “minus X% for short sale negotiator fee”.

“Buyer to pay negotiator fee” **

**Seller and buyer negotiations are not permitted in the MLS. The contractual agreement enforceable in the MLS is between listing and cooperating broker.

My point?  Sandicor and our governing body, the local board of realtors, are doing nothing to stop the fraud and deceit being inflicted upon consumers and fellow agents. 

They both have the opportunity to help agents provide a better experience for clients.  But instead of banning negotiator fees, or at least allowing them to be fully disclosed, they lay out guidelines on how to disguise them.  They are hiding behind lawyers and mergers, either scared or oblivious to doing what’s right.

I’m embarassed to be a part of these organizations, and look forward to a complete overhaul, or elimination.

Crazy Suzy

hat tip to the Leucadia Blog for sending over Suzy’s story, plus they mentioned the Encinitas Extreme Home Makeover house in foreclosure too:



We’ve been waiting patiently for the lender to list Suzy Brown’s old house for sale – remember the 16,330 square footer in Olivenhain? 

She had purchased it from Barry Axelrod for $850,000 in 2003, and took out a loan for $4.55 million in 2006.  You know the story, the bank foreclosed and found that ‘somebody’ had stripped the house.

She was in court yesterday, here’s the story from the nctimes.com:

suzyThe former owner of an Olivenhain mansion who is accused of stealing $1 million worth of fixtures from the bank-foreclosed home repeatedly refused to identify herself at her arraignment Tuesday, prompting a Vista judge to handcuff her in the middle of the proceedings and finally order her to jail.

Suzy Brown, 45, eventually pleaded not guilty to one count of grand theft and one count of felony vandalism, but not until the hearing had been postponed several times because of the unusual actions of the short-haired woman in a pantsuit who, to the amusement of many in the courtroom, wouldn’t admit she was the defendant.

It is not clear why Brown would not acknowledge her identity —- which Judge Marshall Hockett eventually confirmed through a copy of her Department of Motor Vehicles photo that the court requested —- but Brown apparently contested the legality of the complaint against her issued by the district attorney’s office, according to her attorney.

“Ms. Brown claims she has not seen what she calls a ‘genuine charging document,'” said public defender William Matthews, who stepped in to represent Brown after Hockett declined Brown’s request to represent herself.

From the start of the afternoon hearing, Brown would not say who she was.

She said she had no identification with her.

“Are you or are you not Suzanne Meredith Brown?” Hockett asked, getting fed up. “… You’re playing games with the court.”

“I’m genuinely not playing games,” Brown said with a deferential, somewhat pleading tone.


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