Luxury homes for sale: Such a deal!
Despite a hopeful uptick in existing-home sales nationwide -- they rose 10.1% in October from September and are up 23.5% from the October before, according to the National Assn. of Realtors -- some luxury landmarks with your standard twin swimming pools and a ballroom are languishing.
Who's hurting the most? Let's start with the Greenwich, Conn., estate of the late Leona "Queen of Mean" Helmsley, onetime real estate heiress and convicted felon. This 22,000-square-foot summer home on 40 acres, dubbed Dunnellen Hall (what, is it in West Sussex, England?), can't move even at a bargain-basement $60 million. Last year it was listed for $125 million. You do get a million-dollar dance floor, a 70-foot marble reflecting pool and a 1,125-square-foot living room. So what's the problem?
Actor Nicolas Cage had to settle for steep discounts on his New Orleans pads. The two homes were appraised at $3.7 million and $3.45 million, but snatched up for a combined $4.5 million at a foreclosure auction. Ouch. His Bel Air estate was listed for $35 million and sold for an estimated $15 million, according to Street.com. One wonders if his $8-million castle in Bath, England, $12-million spread in Rhode Island and $9.49 million Las Vegas property will end up on Craigslist.
If you're really looking for a bargain, there are always the Bernie and Ruth Madoff properties in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla. The couple's cozy Upper East Side condo (4,000 square feet) has been slashed to $8.9 million from $9.9 million, and their 8,700-square-foot Palm Beach house has sunk like a stone from its original estimated $11 million value to $7.9 million. Does it have a way-bad vibe or something?
Finally, if we're talking America's biggest real estate loser (OK, not residential), look no further than the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich. The enclosed sports venue, site of the 1982 Super Bowl XVI, was picked up at auction for $583,000 last month. The complex, on 127 acres with 80,300 seats, cost $55.6 million to build in the 1970s. That's about $220 million in today's dollars. You could get more return on your investment selling a used Hummer to Al Gore.