LOS ANGELES (TheStreet) — No matter how big they are, how many cars their garages fit, how many pools they have or how many of them a celebrity owns around the world, celebrity homes are subject to the same market forces as anyone else's.
Investing millions of dollars in a home doesn't mean a celebrity won't take a bath if the market wanes or their own finances whittle away. Real estate data firm RealtyTrac found that foreclosures rose to a record 1.05 million last year, eclipsing the previous record of 918,000 a year earlier. That means 26% of all homes sold in 2010 were foreclosures.
That came during a period when personal bankruptcies rose 9%, to more than 1.5 million, reaching their highest point since bankruptcy law reform was introduced in 2005, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute and National Bankruptcy Research Center. Meanwhile, the National Association of realtors notes that the median price of existing homes plunged from $198,100 in 2008 to $158,800 in January.
Those foreclosure numbers aren't expected to wane anytime soon. RealtyTrac found that 2.9 million homes got foreclosure notices in 2010, with 20% more than that total expected to be in trouble this year.
When you lose $2 million on your house and that's not even your biggest public loss of the year, that's a pretty good sign you're on the A-list.
Such are the woes of Scarlett Johansson, who parted with $7 million for a 1931-vintage Spanish hillside villa in Los Angeles' swanky Outpost Estates neighborhood back in 2007, the same year she started dating Ryan Reynolds. After three years, one marriage, turns in Iron Man 2 and Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona and renovations to the mansion including windows, doors, appliances and tech upgrades, Johansson inexplicably turned around and listed her 4,300-square-foot, seven-bedroom manse in 2009 for $5.1 million.