Coming to a market near you: eminent domain
Several cities in California’s Inland Empire, which was devastated by the housing bust, have decided not to wait around for relief from the feds or the banking industry. They are ready to invoke a rarely used power — eminent domain — to stop foreclosures in their communities and help struggling homeowners restructure their mortgages.
The banking and securities industry is not excited over the idea.
Fontana and Ontario, two cities in San Bernardino County, were the first to float the proposal. Because of falling property values, approximately half of the homeowners in the county owe more than their house is worth. Unemployment hovers around 12%.
Under the plan, Fontana and Ontario would partner with the county and seize mortgages that are “underwater” using private funds. The “Homeowner Protection Plan” would then lower the amount owed on the house and restructure the payments, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
While not officially endorsing the idea, state Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, said that the Inland Empire cities should be given the chance to explore the “bold” idea, the Times reported.
The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association has warned that seizing mortgages through eminent domain is, in all likelihood, unconstitutional. Litigation is almost guaranteed.
Meanwhile, other cities are reportedly contemplating similar eminent domain plans, including Berkeley, Calif., Chicago and Suffolk County in New York.
From a Tampa garage, a green product goes national
Tampa, Fla.-based entrepreneur John Wink, of Novel Ideas, has announced the national launch of EcoBorder, an environmentally friendly landscape product.
Manufactured in the United States and molded from recycled tire rubber, this landscape edging was invented in 15-year landscape Wink’s garage, after his position with Merrill Lynch ended about the time of the 2008 stock market crash. With 15 years of experience in landscaping, he invented EcoBorder out of his garage in 2009.
In its short lifetime, EcoBorder has already reused more than 200,000 tires and is projected to recycle another 4 million pounds this year. "Automobile tires can take more than 100 years to decompose in a landfill," said John Wink on the idea behind EcoBorder. "Our recycling process gives old tires a new function while providing asimple-to-install solution that looks fantastic in any yard. We are dedicated to doing our part to help preserve the planet and make our world a little more beautiful."
With no professional installation or laborious digging required, a homeowner can now achieve a stone border look in a matter of minutes, he said.
Life’s a beach? For $19 million it is
The No. 1 ranked beach house in the United States — according to a real estate website — is a modern-style Montauk, N.Y., home with a price tag in excess of $19 million.
The house topped the list put out by TopTenRealEstateDeals.com, which ranked the Top 10 Coolest Beach Homes for 2012.
Highlights on the 2012 list include the Montak, N.Y., contemporary chosen by Architectural Digest for its innovative design, a sparkling Gulf-to-Bay compound in Florida, a new home in Hawaii on a pristine beachand Pierre Koenig’s last built project on a California beach.
California is the leading state with six homes on the list. New York has two homes; Florida and Hawaii each have one home selected for the Top 10.
The asking price for the 7,400-sq.-ft. home is $19.5 million.