Never never land


Ever since Michael Jackson's untimely death, fans have been making the pilgrimage to his former home, Neverland, in the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara - but now, Neverland's neighbours are determined to stop the home becoming a tourist trap, and have launched a group called 'Never' in order to protect the area's tranquility...


[USPRwire, Sun Jul 26 2009] Ever since Michael Jackson's untimely death, fans have been making the pilgrimage to his former home, Neverland, in the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara - but now, Neverland's neighbours are determined to stop the home becoming a tourist trap, and have launched a group called 'Never' in order to protect the area's tranquility...

Residents of the rural Santa Ynez Valley in which Neverland sits are set to oppose any attempts to convert the remote ranch into a commercial venue, which could attract thousands of tourists each year.

Whilst property co-owner Thomas Barack hasn't proposed developing the site as yet, the 'Never' group, led by activist Bob Field, wants assurances that this will never happen.

Field says the area doesn't have the roads, police or other infrastructure to support crowds drawn to a large tourist attraction, which he said would disrupt the enclave's tranquility.

Jacksonís ranch is located about five miles north of the tiny wine country hamlet of Los Olivos. Itís one of the most beautiful spots in the country, blessed with rolling hills, vineyards and cool, damp air from the nearby ocean.

The residents are scared that the sprawling 2,800 acre Neverland could potentially be turned into a Graceland style destination, with die-hard Jacko fans making the pilgrimage year after year, just as Elvis fans do to Graceland in Memphis. (I'm ashamed to say I've made that trip and touched that green shag-pile carpet).

The estate agency firm overseeing the Neverland ranch has already received bids from several billionaires and apparently has even turned down a £65 million offer to develop the property.

In stark contrast to the Santa Barbara 'never' attitude, residents of Jacksonís hometown of Gary, Indiana, are hugely keen to have the starís remains buried there, in the hope it would attract hoards of visitors.

New guidelines introduced in May require lenders to order valuations through third-party vendors called appraisal management companies that increase costs to prospective home buyers have led to more conservative valuations by many appraisers and a slowdown in lending, according to John Brennan, research director at the Appraisal Foundation, a Washington-based trade group. A low appraisal is one that comes in under the price a prospective buyer has agreed to pay for a property.

Appraisal management companies hire valuators who use automated systems and work at a discount, instead of experienced appraisers who have knowledge of neighborhoods and include factors that can increase a property's value, such as home improvements or proximity to schools.

Many real estate brokers are reporting in increase in deals falling through. Universal Mortgage Incorporation in Brooklyn, New York said that at least 15 sales fell apart due to appraisals that came in below the agreed upon price.

But appraiser say that lower valuations reflect what is happening in the market. 'When home values come in below the sales price, that's not the appraiser's fault, it's a reflection of the market,' said the Appraisal Institute, a Chicago-based professional group that represents more than 25,000 appraisers.

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-ENDS-

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