Savannah Extreme Makeover home for sale fits a pattern

I didn’t have a blog in 2010 during Savannah’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” mania and I simply decided not to get into it in any of my Savannah Morning News columns. I already had a reputation in some circles as Mr. Doom and Gloom for all my writing about the housing bust, so why rile so many well-meaning folks up by pointing out that a number of previous recipients of homes on the program had simply been given structures that they really couldn’t afford?

And I just never got it, at the end of the day. The family that was given that rather ostentatious house on East 55th Street seems very nice, so nothing at all against them. I just couldn’t quite grasp the extreme charity — the thousands of donated hours and tens of thousands of dollars worth of donated products. There’s so much need in this city, and so many people struggling with developmental disabilities; why do so much for so few? Was it just the allure of the TV show?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Mary Landers’ piece tonight in the SMN Savannah’s Extreme Makeover house put up for sale. From the piece:

Assessed at $664,000, taxes and maintenance on the house have proven expensive and time-consuming, said Kathy Burnsed, a spokeswoman for the family.[. . .]

The Simpsons paid their 2011 property taxes and late fees in March of this year after the county placed a tax lien on the house. City property taxes were paid at the same time for a total of $11,381 in annual property tax and penalties.

The $664,000 was the 2011 value, not the 2012 one, and the house is listed according to the article for $524,000 (can’t find a link, however). That’s going to be a tough sell even at that price, I think, especially since the summer buying season is winding down. Still, maybe the family can pocket $400,000 or so in cash, buy a home that actually makes sense for them, and keep a nice nest egg in reserve.

So all that effort to create a customized dream home for a family so that it fit all of their needs — and it fit those needs beautifully for 18 months.

Here’s a roundup of links regarding other sales and problems with Extreme Makeover homes, including some pre-2010:

From Zillow in 2008, Extreme Makeover Homes on Market, which details homes for sale in Martinez, CA; Atlanta,; Sandpoint, ID; Pennsauken, NJ; and Port Orchard, WA.

From Zillow in 2009: Two Las Vegas Extreme Makeover Homes on Market.

From Finding Dulcinea in 2009: With “Extreme Makeover” Homes, Some Get Foreclosure Instead of Happy Ending.

From the WSJ in 2009, House of the Day: Extreme Home Makeover for Sale in Kentucky:

In 2006, the Hassall family of Berry saw their original home demolished and replaced by a 3,300-square-foot, three-bedroom showpiece on five fenced acres. It was a grand gift for Brian, a police officer who had been shot and dealt with migraines, and his wife, Michelle, a high-school music teacher who battled cancer and a blood disorder. They also had two young adopted children, one with special needs, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

But as with some other recipients, their story hasn’t ended as happily as the TV episode: Extreme Makeover’s producers paid only the family’s second mortgage, which they took out to pay for the adoption of their son. After their new home was completed, the Hassalls were left with a first mortgage on a house still valued at $117,000, according to property records, as well as larger utility and tax bills.

From phillyBurbs in 2011, Extreme Makeover’ house for sale:

The family of four received a custom built, three-story, four-bedroom mini-mansion. They stood before the cameras in tears and thanked the show’s producers for the new home nearly three times its original size.

Now, four years later, that home is being sold by the same family for twice the purchase price. The sale price for the Kilgallon property is $450,000, according to real estate listings. A simple Century 21 Alliance “For Sale” sign stands outside the home where thousands once gathered to watch camera crews and carpenters hurriedly mingle.

From The Island Packet in January 2012, After the cameras have gone, ‘Extreme Makeover’ winners face new challenges.

From the St. Augustine Record in February 2011, Bank forecloses on ‘Extreme Makeover’ family:

Multiple media outlets point out that other “Extreme Makeover” homeowners also cannot afford the increased taxes, utilities and other expenses that become due on McMansion homes that are larger than some owners’ needs.

Like those owners, the Harveys missed mortgage and loan payments, and BB&T began foreclosure procedures on Nov. 29. Their property taxes are paid. According to the county tax collector’s web site — — property taxes of $4,830.08 were paid on Nov. 28.

One of the Harvey children contacted Monday afternoon only shrugged when asked, “Where will you go after the house has been sold?”

The family did not respond to a request for an interview.

The Hastings community already knows them as modest, community-minded people who help others when they can.

But they fit the pattern of a financially underpowered family yoked to a huge, high-maintenance house.