So, okay, here’s what happened on that summers night in 2008 when Mitchell Lipensky and Shannon Lynne were banned from Westlake Lake…
Nah, first got to give a bit of background regarding, modern history, about geography, and about human passion… along with more than a bit of stupidity brought about by, oh, possibly a beer or two too many and, possibly, a glass of wine or two too many.
But first going back about thirty-five years.
Yep, way back to 1977 when Gerald Ford was president, Mitchell Lipensky earned a living as a real estate salesman in the San Fernando Valley which is, well, actually, as quaint as the name sounds, located northerly about twenty miles from downtown los angles with a population of about three and a half million people, the San Fernando Valley; known by Angelinos’ simply as, “The Valley” is a city onto itself.
Now, at that time, us, meaning the U.S. was coming out of a major recession. Now I mean the recession when home interest rates went to seventeen percent. Now I mean the recession when the words: “Creative Financing” became the byword for selling real-estate and the only homes that were being sold were those homes with an assumable loan, and seeing as those loans may have been way down while the selling cost was, comparatively, way up, people had to come up with some financial means to bridge the gap between, “Way Down” and, “Way Up”. Hence: “Creative Financing”. And it still boggles my mind thinking of the deals that were put together in the waning years of the short lived presidency of Gerald Ford.
Now onto "home."
Westlake Village, California is located over the Calabasas Grade off the 101 freeway in the next valley west of the San Fernando Valley in the lovely city of Thousand Oaks.
How do I explain this?
Okay, coming off the 101 freeway, to the south, one drives along a lovely oak and pine lined street with a rolling golf course on the right and blocks of fashionable high priced homes to the left and beyond those homes – if one follows the zigzagging coast – Circling an island of million and multi-million dollar homes there is a five and a half mile man-made lake called…? Yeah, you guessed it: “Westlake Lake”. Hence, the community that surrounds Westlake Lake is… Yeah, you guessed it: “Westlake Village."
So, to give you some idea of what kind of a community Westlake Village is, considering the financial demographics, Westlake Villages’ “Costco” (which is actually located in the neighboring city of Agoura) Westlake’s Costco has the finest grade of meat and the highest quality fruit, vegetables, cheeses, clothing and, etc., etc. that can be purchased even in the most exclusive of stores.
In short, what Beverly Hills is to Los Angeles; Westlake Village is to the city of Thousand Oaks.
So, one might ask, how did a lowly San Fernando Valley real estate salesman such as Mitchell Lipensky end up in such a hoity-toity place as Westlake Village? And, in 2008, why did he and Shannon Lynne get banned from Westlake Lake?
One might ask: “How? Or more precisely, ”why" would a seventy-three year old man and a sixty-three year old woman get banned from Westlake Lake?”
Okay, okay already! So if you really want to know how Mitchell Lipensky ended up in “hoity-toity” Westlake Village I’ll tell you, but first…
Oh, yeah, I get it! What you really want to know is why these two “senior citizens” got banned from Westlake Lake, huh? Yeah, but…
Well, sorry, I’m not quite ready to get to that part yet because there’s a sequence to this story and before we get to the “banning” part, to understand the banning part we’ve to get back to a bit of history....
You want to hear about the “stupid” part because, maybe, these two old codgers had too much beer and wine… Yeah, we’ll get to that, too. But…
What’s that? “Passion”, you want me to get to the passion part? Well, it’s my story and what I’m going to do now is to tell you how Mitchell and Marsha Lipensky ended up in Ritzy Westlake Village.
Huh? You don’t think that a sixty-three year old woman and a seventy-three year old man could even have passion, let alone do something bad enough to be banned from anyplace?
All you young people want is instant gratification. You want to know about beer and wine and sex and getting banned without hearing about the “How”, the “where” and “why.”
Well, tough poopie…
Attempting to sell a moderate priced house in the mid-seventies was hard enough, but an attached unit, a condominium or townhouse? Forget it!
Here’s where James and Elaine Berkowitz come into the picture.
As it had a very good assumable VA loan, Mitchell had successfully sold the Berkowitz’ single family, two bedroom house in Encino for five hundred dollars more than the asking price. He was then fundamental in the purchasing of a three bedroom house in a far better neighborhood for three hundred lower than that asking price… Which made Mitchell Lipensky kind of a hero in the eyes of James and Elaine.
Approximately one year later, as James Berkowitz worked in Kenny Roger’s publicity department, and as the entire Kenny Rogers troupe was moving from Los Angeles to Tennessee, James transferred to Memphis and so, once again, Mitchell received the listing.
Although this house had sold within three days for slightly below their asking price, as the Berkowitz’ were anxious to get to Memphis, the couple hundred dollar loss was far less significant than the speed of the sale and subsequent closing of escrow along with the – as Elaine was now pregnant – the subsequent purchase of their new home in Memphis.
Okay, so here’s where Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Berkowitz come into the picture.
Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Berkowitz lived in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and wanting to be near their son and daughter-in-law, and their forthcoming grandchild, to say nothing of the fact that they were sick and tired of Pittsburgh’s hot, humid summers and frigid, blowing winters. Considering this to be their retirement home, Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Berkowitz purchased a seventeen hundred square foot one story townhouse in the lovely village of….
So, can you guess where this is going?
With their down payment tied up in Westlake Village along with the rather husky monthly payments, and wanting their money out of it as quickly as possible so they, too, might live in the lovely city of Memphis, the listing was, of course, awarded to Mitchell Lipensky.
As stated earlier: Attempting to sell a moderate priced house in the mid-seventies was hard enough, but an attached unit, a condominium or townhouse? Forget it!
And he tried. Yes, he did! But the Berkowitz loan was not assumable and as the months went on without an offer, as Mr. Berkowitz was able to come up with the down payment for a house in Memphis but as the monthly payments on the two houses was rather strangling him, knowing he was becoming desperate, with the help of his broker, Mitchell and Marsha Lipensky came up with a “creatively financed” offer.
“Yeah,” you say, “but who’s interested in this real estate and finance stuff?”
Well, says I, I’m a writer and as a writer I must let you the reader know the “how” the “where” and the “why” and follow the sequence of events and the circumstances that caused and led up to the banning of, “senior citizen” Shannon Lynne and, “geezer” Mitchell Lipensky from Westlake Lake. Which, in thinking about it, as home owners paying monthly homeowners dues, they were part… admittedly a very small part of the owners of Westlake Lake.
Just a hint to hold your interest as – or if for nothing more than to appease my “writer” status, I’ll get into the “how” and the… Well you know what I’m talking about – Anyway, as a hint to hold your interest; the “senior citizen” and the “geezer” getting kicked off the lake did have a little… just a smidgen of sex involved.
During the recession of the mid to late seventies, when real estate interest rates were up to seventeen percent and as Mitchell Lipensky worked primarily with low end financial people whom, at this time, couldn’t qualify for a home, much less pay seventeen percent interest, his business nose-dived, and it nose-dived to such an extent that Marsha and Mitchell were forced to put their home on the market in order to save it from foreclosure.
Now along comes Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Westgarden who smelled a deal so, “creative financing” in full swing: Through their broker, of course, the Westgardens offered ten thousand below the listed price – because part of their deal was – Because their daughter and her family would be in need of lovely house in a good neighborhood within a month, the Westgarden’s wanted a two week escrow and, they in turn, would pay all escrow and commissions. However… Big “however”, there would be no cash payment at the close of escrow because the present owners were asked to carry back an eighteen thousand – which, at the selling price, would be all of the money needed for the Lipensky’ to put down an another house, so – the Westgarden’ wanted an eighteen thousand “second trust deed” at 8% interest for three years.
“Let’s see,” said Mitchell to Marsha:
"Ten grand below 'asking'. A two week escrow" — which terrified Marsha — And, other than the full commission, after the broker’s share, of course, both ends of the commission his, the only money Mitchell, presently, would recive from the sale of his house was his end of the commission that, actually, when you think about it, was really his money after all.
“So,” said Mitchell. “We’d better take it…”
“So,” answered his wife, “before the bank does.”
“What are we going to do?” Marsha asked after the initial signing. Where are we going to live?”
“Hmmm?” thought Mitchell. “I’ve an Idea.”
Okay, once again enter Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Berkowitz whom are presently going absolutely nuts at having to pay two, seventeen percent (17%) monthly payments, and so, calls are made by him twice-weekly to hear the progression of the sale of the Berkowitz townhouse – which wasn’t. No progression, that is – in lovely, though by now very far away, Westlake Village. California. And so…
“Hmmm?” thought Mitchell. “I’ve an Idea.”
“Yeah?” said his wife.
“How’d you like to live in Westlake Village?”
So, again, I ask: See where this is going?
To be continued
©July 21, 2012 / Mark M. Lichterman