Chip shots (and cheap shots)

What happens in Vegas may not stay there
    It appears we may have more than Angelo Mozilo, Countrywide Financial and their ilk to blame for much of the housing crisis.  According to today's real estate update from the Wall Street Journal, as the housing market started to show signs of tanking, many builders and developers offered incentives so tempting that the housing boom was artificially prolonged.  Some experts believe that may have eventually deepened the crisis.

    Allegedly the developers offered incentives worth up to $100,000, including cars and other toys, all in an effort not to cut prices, something developers live in fear of (imagine what the guy who paid full price the week before will think when his neighbor buys in for 25% less, and imagine the message it sends to the market).  
    The Las Vegas division of giant homebuilder Centex, the Journal reports, paid off car loans, mortgage payments, and credit card bills to entice home owners to purchase Centex homes.  Mortgage lenders knew nothing of these deals.  
    Apparently what happens in Vegas won't necessarily stay in Vegas; the FBI is investigation Centex and others who offered such incentives and deceived the mortgage companies.

One way to Pebble Beach
    For those who want to live in the neighborhood of Pebble Beach for the rest of their lives, the famed "House on the Hill" has come on the market.  Also known as Casa Ladera, the 1930 Mediterranean estate offers a 7,500 square foot home and separate guest quarters with dramatic ocean views, all on three acres.  It is being offered for $17.5 million, but certainly the owners would be willing to knock off a few thousand at least, which you can then parlay into green fees at Pebble (now approaching $500).  No word if the real estate agent with the listing can get you into Cypress Point if you buy the House on the Hill, but let me know if you are interested (insert smiley face here), and I will see what I can do.


Trump's new tenant
    Good news for Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson's famous foil.  You may know that Mr. McMahon's six bedroom, multi-million dollar home in California has been on the brink of foreclosure for months, and that the octogenarian was getting close to being thrown out on the street.  But the good news is that a white knight - well, okay, a blond knight -- has burst onto the scene to save the day by offering to purchase the mansion and lease it back to Mr. McMahon.  The deal isn't quite done, but if all goes well, McMahon's new landlord will be Donald Trump.  Despite Mr. Trump's penchant for doing whatever keeps his name out front, we are willing to say this is a nice thing Mr. Trump has done.  However, the statement from his PR machine is bizarre, puffing up Mr. Trump at poor Mr. McMahon's expense.
    "Even a man who hadn't had such a great career," Mr. Trump said in a statement released by his office, according to the Journal, "shouldn't have this happen to them in their later years."
    Mr. Trump's one hand giveth, and the other hand taketh away.

Caveat emptor
    This year's cycle of LiveSouth shows begins in North Central New Jersey at the Parsippany Hilton September 5 thru 7.  The shows feature dozens of communities in one place, and many of them feature golf courses.  It is a great place to collect brochures and ask a lot of questions about specific golf communities, but not the best place to find totally unbiased information.  The planned communities pay $5,000 or more for the privilege of promoting themselves at the shows, and the representatives are there to encourage you to visit their properties.  Go by all means, but understand that the photographs are beautiful, the sales representatives are enthusiastic, and all the places seem like paradise.  Oh, any if you leave them your name, count on a full mailbox and the occasional phone call.

    If you do visit a LiveSouth show and see some places you like, especially those with golf courses, let me know and I will give you an unbiased, objective opinion (use the Contact Us button at the top of the page).  Upcoming LiveSouth show stops include Reston, VA (9/12-14) and Melville, NY (9/19-21).

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