Real Estate News & Views

by hookedonhouses on March 8, 2008



Suburban Slums? The Atlantic warns that the subprime crisis is just the tip of the iceberg. Fundamental changes in American life may turn today’s McMansions into tomorrow’s tenements. This is one scary story (don’t read it at night with the lights off). According to the article, foreclosures are ripping through once-safe and tidy neighborhoods, leaving havoc in their wake.

At a newer development near Charlotte, North Carolina, 81 of the community’s 132 houses are in foreclosure: “Vandals have kicked in doors and stripped the copper wire from vacant houses; drug users and homeless people have furtively moved in. In December, after a stray bullet blasted through her son’s bedroom and into her own, Laurie Talbot, who’d moved to Windy Ridge from New York in 2005, told The Charlotte Observer, ‘I thought I’d bought a home in Pleasantville. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that stuff like this would happen.’” Yikes. Read the entire story here. (Thanks to Maya at Springtree Road for forwarding this article to me.)



Oversized House Syndrome? If there is such a thing, Dru Schmitt and his family have it. The Palm Beach Post reports that the St. Louis multi-millionaire bought three waterfront properties near Boca Raton, Florida, and razed them to build one crazy-big, 23,000 square-foot estate (see photo above).

The Wall Street Journal describes the mega-mansion as one done up in French-Country-Manor style, “with four kinds of rare onyx in the bedroom, music piped underwater in the resort-style pool, a computerized television system holding 850 movies and hand-shaved walnut floors. The doorknobs and hinges alone cost $160,000.” And they all lived happily ever after in their ostentatious display of wealth, right? Wrong. The Schmitt family only lasted a matter of days in the house before moving out again, complaining that it was “too big.” It’s on the market now and can be yours for $24.9 million. To see interior photos, go here


Multimillion-Dollar Ghost Towns? The Wall Street Journal is also reporting this week that “Rich Neighborhoods Can Be Lonely.” Why? Because most of the mega-rich have multiple residences, so many of their homes are sitting empty for a good portion of the year. They also travel a lot. So some of the nicest neighborhoods in America can feel like ghost towns. (Thanks to Gary at Seasoned Believers for forwarding this to me.)

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Katherine March 9, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Wow… I just read that article from The Atlantic. That is insane. That’ is actually kind of scary – but it all makes sense… I’m really glad we don’t have the same kind of mortgage market in Canada so we don’t see things to that extreme very often but.. YIKES.

Wouldn’t that be an experience – buy your dream home and in a few years you’re totally in a pickle since half of your neighbors have been foreclosed, you can’t sell your house for its value because nobody wants to live on a ghost street with crime..


hookedonhouses March 9, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Yeah, I really feel sorry for those people. We have a slightly similar situation in our town right now because of the schools. We actually moved here because the schools were rated “Excellent,” but a year later they ran out of money to run them. They’ve put levy after levy on the ballot–the most recent last week–and they’ve all been defeated.

What this means is that our schools have been put on “emergency fiscal status” by the state now, and no one can sell their homes because no one wants to move here. Big, gorgeous houses have lowered their prices to ridiculous levels in desperation, but still no takers.

True, no drug dealers have kicked in any doors in my neighborhood, but I still sympathize with the plight of anyone who finds themselves bound by their real estate!

Maybe we all need to move to Canada with you, Katherine! :-)

Tracey March 9, 2008 at 1:43 pm

Who the heck wants to clean a house that big? Even if we had a cleaning service you still have to keep the place picked up and try and remember where you put things…too big!

hookedonhouses March 9, 2008 at 2:04 pm

You are so right, Tracey. I couldn’t hack it. You lose your sunglasses or keys or purse and have to spend hours traipsing around the house looking for them!

Did anyone look at the pictures on the MLS site I linked to? What did you think? I wasn’t too crazy about it myself, but maybe it’s just not my style.

real estate Toronto March 10, 2008 at 8:35 am

Very interesting article. According to first part (foreclosures) – I just hope it will settle down soon. It’s hard, but it was inevitable, once the bubble is started, there’s always cruel fall at the end. As Katherine said, we in Canada (I am dealing with Toronto real estate ) have situation calmer, however, nothing is safe even here…
And according to millionare houses – it comes to me very stupid, to have several huge houses and leave it empty for the most of the year. Such wasting of enviromental resources…

Ms. Place March 10, 2008 at 6:56 pm

When my husband and I built our second house, we believed in passive solar houses, small bedrooms, large family living areas, wooded lots or open fields, and energy efficiency. I still live in a neighborhood with modest houses (once built by lawyers and doctors and now considered starter homes) and huge lots. New million dollar ‘tenements’ have sprouted all around us. In these new developments, neighbors can look into each others houses and hear their dogs bark. The woods and fields have been destroyed, and wildlife has had no choice but to cross roads to look for a place to forage for food. Largely they get hit by cars This is sheer madness. Has no one considered the European model, where the countryside is preserved and cities are kept in good order?

I am glad the housing boom has stalled. Perhaps people will come to their senses.

Baby Sling April 23, 2008 at 10:12 am

Everyone should check out “The Not So Big House” by Sarah Susanka. It addresses all of these issues with those awful houses: building quality space instead of quantity space. She’s written a whole series and they are very enlightening!

real estate supplies September 4, 2008 at 8:35 pm

Oversized House Syndrome definitely exists. My mother has it. I thought she was the only one i moved into 1500 sqft apartment and i got clostraphobic, ran out of there in 2 months. I promise you, it exists.

Lannah H.

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