Housing datapoint of the day, Sheila Bair edition

By Felix Salmon
June 26, 2009

Have you ever wondered who actually buys those weird swim-without-moving treadmilly swimming pool things which seem to have insatiable demand from New Yorker readers? The answer, it turns out, is Sheila Bair:

Last week, Ms. Bair removed her 14-room colonial in Amherst, Mass., from the market after cutting its sale price by $100,000 from an initial $795,000 in April…

Ms. Bair, and her husband, Scott P. Cooper, paid $355,000 for the house in 2002. In ’02 and ’03 they received building permits valued at $89,500 to renovate the 1860s house., including new roofing and a counter-current basement pool…

An FDIC spokesman said Ms. Bair decided to remove the listing and wait for the market to improve on the advice of her real-estate agent.

If you think of the housing boom as basically running from 1997 to 2007, Bair bought her house halfway through, and put in a total of $444,500 between purchase price and renovations. She then tried to sell it after the housing bubble had burst for $795,000 — and finally withdrew the house from the market last week in the hope that the market would improve; she was clearly willing to accept no less than $695,000 for the property.

What this tells me is that the market is still in denial: there’s no way this house is more likely to go up in value than down. Even if it does have a counter-current basement pool.

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