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L.A. LAND L.A. story: $545K to $125K Back story...

August 31, 2008|Peter Viles; Johanna Neuman; Marc Lifsher

L.A. LAND

L.A. story: $545K to $125K

Back story: Last week I blogged about a foreclosed house that had been reduced 57% in price from its peak sales price to its current asking price. In response, commenter "E" maintained that 57% was no big deal and that he could easily find a foreclosed house discounted 75% or more. Taking up the challenge, I responded that if he could find the house, I would drive over and take a picture of it. No slouch, "E" quickly found such a listing from Redfin.com.

So I motored over to Highland Park and shot the picture you see. By my math, the house is being offered at a discount of 77% from its peak sales price, but it's a listing that raises a few questions. I'll explore them below.

More on the house: It's a bank-owned, two-bedroom, one-bath on a half lot in Highland Park that's been on the market 225 days. Agent's description:

"Property Sits Behind Another Property You Must Go Up A Walkway Next To A Driveway To Get To The House. No FHA Or VA Or Low Down Financing Property Will Not Qualify This Is A Fixer. Lender Owned REO Perfect Starter Home, Sold As Is No Termite No Retrofit. All Offers Must Include Pre-Approval Letter W FICO Scores And Proof Of Funds And Copy Of Earnest Money Deposit Check."

Here's the sales and listing history, also from Redfin.com:

Sold: April 2005 for $240,000

Sold: June 2005 for $410,000

Sold: April 2006 for $545,000

Foreclosed: September 2007 by Morgan Stanley Trust, $385,000

Listed for sale: January 2008 for $300,000

Reduced: February 2008 to $179,900

Reduced: April 2008 to $169,000

Reduced: June 2008 to $149,900

Reduced: August 2008 to $125,000

Questions: What happened between April and June of 2005 to cause the price to nearly double in two months? And how did the house -- wedged into a half lot in a backyard with no parking -- ever appraise for more than half a million? I called the listing agent, Zita Doyle, who said, "Honestly, I don't know how anybody could have appraised that house for that amount of money." -- Peter Viles

From L.A. Land: The rapidly changing landscape of the L.A. real estate market and beyond

For more, go to latimes.com/laland

COUNTDOWN TO CRAWFORD

Is Rove using the Bush playbook?

It was remarkable enough when word spread that Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting John McCain was thinking of naming ex-Democrat Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Lieberman was a Democrat for most of his life. In fact, he was Al Gore's choice for vice president in 2000.

But after a brush with political death in 2006, the Connecticut senator switched to Independent and won reelection. Lately, he's been campaigning for McCain.

Now comes word that Karl Rove, the political guru of the Bush presidency, made calls trying to discourage the Arizona senator from giving in to these maverick instincts to blow up the political landscape by naming an ex-Democrat.

According to Politico, Rove called Lieberman and asked him to dissuade McCain from such a scheme. And according to the article, Lieberman "laughed at the suggestion and certainly did not call." Later, Rove told Fox that he did not ask Lieberman to corral his pal McCain. But he did not deny calling Lieberman.

Which means, if true, that Rove -- the architect of two Bush victories, sometimes called "Bush's Brain," the man who leaked a CIA agent's name to discredit her antiwar husband, a staffer who left the White House in 2007 and is supposed to be sitting out this election -- is in the thick of it.

(On Friday, McCain selected Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential pick.)

-- Johanna Neuman

From Countdown to Crawford: The last days of the Bush administration

For more, go to latimes.com/presidentbush

GREENSPACE

Will ratepayers fund research?

After months of closed-door negotiations, California lawmakers last week unveiled a bill to collect $37 million a year from ratepayers for up to a decade to pay for global warming research. The effort would bolster the state's complex effort to ratchet down its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 by 2020, amounting to a 30% cut over expected levels.

The fees, which would add an average of about 10 cents per month to electricity bills statewide, would pay part of the cost of the $87-million annual budget of a Climate Change Research and Workforce Development Institute.

The Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee approved the bill on a 7-3 vote.

The institute is backed by public and private universities in the state, which would benefit from sharing nearly $900 million in research grants over the next decade. Projects would include developing technologies to reduce emissions, researching ways to switch to a low-carbon economy, fine-tuning forecasts of climate change impacts and fostering "green-tech" jobs in renewable energy.

-- Marc Lifsher

From Greenspace: Environmental news from California and beyond

For more, go to latimes.com/greenspace

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