The U.S. foreclosure crisis, Beverly Hills-style

Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:51pm EST
 
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By Tim Reid

BEVERLY HILLS (Reuters) - The careworn house not far from Santa Monica Boulevard resembles millions of other homes that have been foreclosed on since the calamitous U.S. housing crash four years ago.

Garbage spews from trash bags behind the property. A smashed television leans against broken furniture. A filthy toy dog lies on its side, an ear draped across its face. The garden is overgrown. The house needs a paint job.

Yet the property on North Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills, California, is no ordinary foreclosure.

A sprawling, Spanish-style estate, fringed by majestic pine trees and located near the boutiques of Santa Monica Boulevard, its former owners were served with a default notice in 2010; they were $205,000 behind in their payments on mortgages totaling $6.9 million.

Welcome to foreclosure Beverly Hills-style.

Some 180 houses in Beverly Hills, the storied Los Angeles enclave rich with Hollywood stars and music moguls, have been foreclosed on by lenders, scheduled for auction, or served with a default notice, the highest level since the 2008 financial crash, according to a Reuters analysis of figures compiled by RealtyTrac, which tracks foreclosures nationwide.

As in the default-ravaged suburban subdivisions of Phoenix, Arizona, and Tampa, Florida, plunging real estate prices are the root of the problem in Beverly Hills.

But the dynamics of the residential real estate collapse are very different in elite neighborhoods such as this. The majority of delinquent homeowners here owe more than $1 million. Many are walking away not because they can't pay, but because they judge it would be foolish to keep doing so.   Continued...

 
A view of a multi-million dollar home in foreclosure on Rexford Drive in Beverly Hills, California February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn