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Best Columns: Mortgaging Modernism, SUV savings
T

he high art of real estate

“High-end art is selling briskly and high-end homes less so,” says Daniel Gross in Slate, so a move by the auction house Christie’s to create a “new asset class”—“brand-name Modernist homes” valued for their “architectural pedigrees” as much as their size and luxury quotient—makes some sense. And Christie’s sale of Richard Neutra’s Modernist Kaufmann House for $16.8 million last month suggested it might work. But there are significant differences between a house and a painting that suggest otherwise. “Name-brand works of fine art,” as an asset, can easily be sold into a “liquid global market,” but selling a Modernist abode is, in the end, “a real-estate transaction.” And like many today, the Kaufmann deal “fell through.”

When buying an SUV makes sense

Today’s gas prices have hammered the market for sport utility vehicles, says Mike Spector in The Wall Street Journal. But that presents something of a “quandary,” as a hammered market can mean a deeply discounted Hummer. Dealers, eager to clear the glut of unsold SUVs, are now “willing just to break even to get them off their lots.” And for drivers who mostly “tool around the neighborhood, low mileage may not be a deal buster.” If you drive 8,000 miles a year, you’ll put $2,000 worth of gas in a Chevy Tahoe; driving a Honda Civic 16,000 miles costs $2,200 in gas. As long as you’re not a commuter, you could find that “SUVs may actually make financial sense.”

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