Nashville, TN (written by G. Chambers Williams III) -- Celebrities may have their privileges, but some can't catch a break any more than a common wage earner when it comes to real estate woes -- even if they're selling homes with 20-car garages, built-in gymnasiums or saltwater swimming pools.
Weaker home values compared with the heady days before the recession, past-due mortgages, unpaid loans and the threat of foreclosure remain all too common in today's slowly recovering real estate market, and the rich and famous aren't immune.
Singer Sheryl Crow bought a new $5.2 million Nashville-area home last year, but she hasn't managed to sell a 154-acre farm south of Nashville, just yet. Crow tried two years ago to market the property via an Internet auction, but the top bid online was far below her $7.5 million asking price.
Country entertainer Ricky Van Shelton's 4,200-square-foot log home on a 148-acre "working farm" east of Nashville sold at auction Saturday for $671,000, way below its 2007 appraised value of $1.2 million. The place has stunning views of the Cumberland River, and its cabin served as the set of the singer's 1989 music video of "I'll Be Home for Christmas."
"We all hate it that values have come down, but that's what we have to deal with these days, even with celebrity properties," said Dwight O'Neal, whose Nashville company sold the performer's property. "We had expected to get between $600,000 and $700,000, so the Sheltons were extremely happy with the sales price."
Other entertainers and athletes have sold homes and missed by a few million dollars of hitting their asking prices. That includes singer Alan Jackson, who sold his 135-acre Sweetbriar, Tenn., spread with a 20-car garage, gym and boathouse. Sure, he got a whopping $28 million for it, but that was $10 million shy of its original list price.
Next up to try selling a plush mansion and the surrounding estate will be country music legend George Jones, whose Franklin, Tenn., home and 80-acre property will be auctioned off July 7.
Jones and his wife, Nancy, are downsizing to a smaller lot, but not a smaller house, said Terry Ivey, their real estate agent.
George Jones listed his sprawling estate for $15.5 million about a year ago, but he recently dropped the price to $10 million before taking it off the market and then turning it over to the Gadsden, Ala.-based J.P. King Auction Co.
The idea is to use J.P. King's connections and marketing skill to draw big-money bidders from throughout the U.S. -- or even internationally. The Joneses are marketing their property with ads in such publications as Variety and the Wall Street Journal.
J.P. King also posted a video tour of the property on YouTube to entice buyers, and much of it touts Nashville as a hip place to live.
Still, it's not a great time to sell high-end properties, especially those more than $10 million.
"There is a finite market to reach with a property like this," King said of the George Jones estate.
Cusp of foreclosure
Sometimes real estate woes are even stickier than just falling short of a hefty asking price.
Former Tennessee Titans football star Eddie George and his wife, Tamara, saw a scheduled foreclosure auction of their Brentwood home called off on Thursday, and the couple is back in talks with their lender after failing to make mortgage payments for a few months, said Larry Goodman, George's accountant.
Bought for $1.675 million in September 2007, just before the real estate bubble burst, the ex-running back turned actor's 8,550-square-foot home in the Hampton Reserve development was recently listed for sale at $1.1 million.
"The Georges, who like a lot of other people have an upside-down mortgage, are trying to see what's available in a modification," Goodman said. "But it's not that Eddie George can't make his payments. He's not in distress."
Other football players have sold homes for disappointing prices in the past year.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterbacks Kerry Collins and Vince Young, both of whom owned homes in Brentwood, Tenn., were among those who took a haircut on recent real estate deals.
Collins bought his home in 2007 for nearly $1.6 million and sold it in August 2011 for $1.24 million.
Young's house cost him $1.5 million in 2006, but he got just slightly more than $1 million for it late last year.
Meanwhile, country star Jackson has two other area properties for sale -- one listed at $3.75 million and another listed for slightly less than $5 million.
None of Jackson's real estate dealings involve distressed properties or were motivated by need, said real estate agent Rick French, who represents the country great. "He just wanted to scale down from the big farm, make it easier to lock the door and travel."
J.P. King Auction Co., which was started by Craig King's great-grandfather 97 years ago in Tullahoma, Tenn., conducts sales of high-end and celebrity homes nationwide and has done several in Nashville before, including the home of country performer Barbara Mandrell.
"Our bidders are buying the property to use it, not resell it, and that means they'll usually pay more for it," King said.