March 20 (Bloomberg) — Barbara Desoer, who runs the largest U.S. housing lender, can speak from experience about tumbling property prices: She couldn’t sell her own home.
Desoer, 56, put her 4,500-square-foot house in Charlotte, North Carolina, on the market Aug. 1 for $1.675 million. She had just been named head of Bank of America Corp.’s real-estate unit, Countrywide Financial Corp., in Calabasas, California.
The home, which she and her husband bought in 2000 for $1.15 million, sold in December for a price that wasn’t made public. The buyer: Bank of America, according to a proxy the lender filed March 18. Now the house is for sale again, at $1.295 million, $380,000 less than the original asking price, according to listing agent Allen Tate Realtors.
“The scary thing is the amount of inventory we have right now,” said Ed Baesel, a Charlotte real-estate broker with Cottingham Chalk Bissell Hayes. At the current pace of sales of $1 million-plus homes in Charlotte’s most expensive neighborhoods, it would take more than six years to sell the homes on the market, he said.
Million-dollar homes are finding few buyers as increasing job losses, slumping stock prices and declining property values cut demand for new and existing U.S. homes. Home prices fell 12.4 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the most ever for an index compiled by the National Association of Realtors. In the Charlotte area, home to Bank of America, home sales have posted double-digit percentage declines every month since June 2007, according to the Carolina Multiple Listing Services.
Bank of America isn’t the only company stuck with an executive’s house that didn’t sell. AT&T Inc. bought Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson’s San Antonio, Texas, home for $1.7 million after relocating him to Dallas, according to a regulatory filing on March 11. AT&T spokesman Michael Coe declined to comment yesterday when asked whether the house was still on the market.
AT&T sold the homes of two other relocated executives, Ralph de la Vega andJames Cicconi, at a discount, according to the filing. The company paid $3.05 million for Wireless President de la Vega’s house and sold it for $2.9 million. Executive Vice President Cicconi was paid $807,317 for his home, which was sold for $740,000.
Reached for comment, Miss Shelton 04, an Old Greenwich housewife, was bitter. “I blame Chris Fountain,” she insisted. “The friggin’ guy is the only real estate agent in the world who is bad mouthing the market so it’s obvious, isn’t it? I mean come on, if he weren’t doing that, North Carolina property values would be soaring right now. But these guys should do what I’m doing: stick their fingers in their ears, stick out their tongue and say nahna nahna na na! That will chase away all this bad karma Fountain’s been strewing and we’ll all get exactly the price we want and deserve.” Miss Shelton then terminated the interview, saying that she was overdue spreading pixie dust on her rooftop.