Wednesday, March 12, 2008


If you’ve ever spent a reasonable amount of time in Belmont Shore, I’m sure you’ve all seen this place. The reason I’m featuring it today is because I think it perfectly encapsulates The Great Housing Ponzi Scheme, unadulterated greed, and the ridiculousness of our consumer culture.

Address: 109 Park Ave, 90803
Wishing Price: $2,785,000
Year Built: 1925 (but it looks like this new house was built in ’07)
Size: 4 beds, 5 baths, 3,900 sq. ft.
$/Sq. Ft.: $714 (HAHAHAHA!)
Purchase price: $750,000
Purchase date: 4/2007
MLS#: P594673
On Redfin: 209 days
Description: The only 'Belmont Heights Estate-sized Home' located on the largest SFR Lot in Belmont Shore, just a block from the beach! Stunning, architectural-built like a piece of the furniture. One of a kind home offers formal LR & formal DR, 4 BRS 5 BAs (Twin master suites rest between a great room. )FR w/ FP. Almost 4,000 sq. ft. on a 6,100 sq. ft lot (2-1/3 lots) This is the largest lot and most presitigious home located in all of Belmot Shore. Mysterioursly private and breathtaking.

Okay, first of all, this realtor has problems, not the least of which is that they can’t spell the name of the neighborhood in which they are trying to sell a house. “Belmot Shore,” eh? Is that what they call the area east of Roycroft?

And then of course we have innovative and exciting adjectives like “presitigious” and “Mysterioursly” to whet our investment appetites.

What, at 209 days on market you didn’t have enough time to proof-read? Unbelievable. Need I remind you that this listing agent expects to receive more than $150,000 for their (allegedly) professional services? What a joke.

The really strange thing here is the history. It says the original house was purchased in April ’07 for $750,000, and then promptly listed on the market a mere four months later for $3.25 million. Did they buy this house as-is in the hopes of turning a quick, enormous profit? The price seems excessive for such a move.

I don’t have all the information so most of this is guessing, but it appears that this person bought this land in an already declining market, demolished whatever house was on it, built this completely-out-of-place behemoth in four months (is that even possible?), and as soon as the paint was dry put it on the market with the hopes of tripling their initial investment.

Only speculating, but this might be a speculator.

Plus, these pictures seem to indicate the property is unoccupied.

If this person is in fact a flipper intent on gaining maximum profit…WHY ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH WOULD THEY BUILD THIS THEME PARK-LOOKIN’ MONSTROSITY??

I mean, it’s difficult enough to find a buyer in this gloomy market. It’s even tougher to find a buyer with the required $278,500 down payment, $700,000 annual income, and enough wherewithal to cough up a $17,000 monthly mortgage payment.

But what are the odds of finding a buyer with that kind of capital that just happens to be a die-hard Benihana enthusiast?

I’ve just never understood why people inject so much of their “taste” or “personal expression” into a place that is intended to sell quickly and profitably. Which makes me wonder if it’s just a wealthy individual who built their dream house (must have had some questionable sushi before bed), only to discover after four mortgage payments that only an extremely wealthy individual could afford to live there.

Look, it's clear that some money was dumped into this place and it's certainly original but it’s completely out of place. Sure, there are some big, garish houses in Belmont Shore but one of the things I adore about Belmont Shore and the reason I will one day own there, is the subtlety of the money there.

The vibe I get is that the community is more Banana Republic than Neiman Marcus. And this look-at-me house, on a double lot no less, just screams ostentatious, nouveaux riche, conspicuous consumption. Which isn’t what Belmont Shore is about at all.

It can’t be easy to be the most expensive house in Belmont Shore (by double!), especially in a declining market with fewer and fewer lending options. This seller is slowly dropping the price below the stratosphere (already lopped of half a million in six months!) but nobody has this kind of money and if they did, they would be looking in Naples or at a place on the sand.

Plus, with only one garage space, do you really think the kind of family pulling down $700,000 a year who would live in this gaudy, high-profile, pay-attention-to-me “estate,” is modest enough to drive Accords and Blazers that they don’t mind parking outside? Doubtful.

Some are postulating that the new trend will be focusing on a more simplistic lifestyle and moving away from the “bigger, better, my-Breitling-is-bigger-than-yours, buy buy buy” mentality, and that the true status symbol in the coming years will be a more modest lifestyle and demonstrating fiscal responsibility.

I think the idea that people will flee in droves from material trappings…is utter crap. Total horsesh*t.

This is, and always will be, Southern California.

However, I do believe that distancing ourselves from the rampant consumption and “symbols of success” will be inevitable to a degree (thanks lots slowing economy!). Mostly because the bill is past due for the lavish lifestyles we led during the boom years. Some got out unharmed, some will come out battered but wiser, and some will be financially eviscerated. But hopefully a return to a more modest way of life is on the way.

I truly believe that if we look inward and focus on the truly important things in life ("Oh, you mean like poppin' bottles at Sutra?" Um, no) as opposed to simply propagating the attitude of “I got mine, screw everyone else,” then our country will be way "richer" than we ever thought we could get selling houses to each other at inflated prices.

Is a widespread shift away from materialism possible on a large scale?


Because while a recession and financial troubles will cause some to focus less on simply aquiring “things,” there will always be assholes out there who feel the need to build and live in garish, over-the-top testaments to immodesty and greed like this feng-shui disaster in the hopes of letting you know just how much they have, and how little you do in comparison.

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