Joe Biden is the first politician in the history of the sport to benefit from a sweetheart real estate deal. OK, make that the first I have noticed today:
While their earnings probably would not be enough to purchase their Greenville estate today, the Bidens have managed to live in such splendor partly because of two financially rewarding real estate deals with political supporters.
In 1996, Biden sold a home in Greenville for the asking price of $1.2 million -- more than six times what he paid two decades earlier -- to John R. Cochran III, a top executive at the MBNA credit card bank that was a longtime political benefactor.
Using profits from that sale, Biden paid $350,000 cash to real estate executive and developer Keith D. Stoltz for 4.2 vacant acres -- a long, narrow lot a few miles from Biden's old home. Stoltz had bought that same lot five years earlier for the same price.
Stephen Pyle, who sold the land to Stoltz in 1991, said he was surprised that Stoltz, who lived on a neighboring estate, did not make any profit selling to Biden. "That doesn't sound like Keith Stoltz," Pyle, an artist who now lives in Texas, said of Stoltz, whose company recently proposed a $525 million project at nearby Barley Mill Plaza, a former DuPont Co. office campus.
Cochran did not return numerous calls for this article.
Although Cochran paid Biden's asking price, Stoltz wrote in an e-mail to The News Journal that "the residential real estate market was soft" when he was selling his lot.
Time does not permit, but subject to some obvious caveats (all real estate is local, this is a national index of single family homes, not a Delaware index of undeveloped lots), let's note that in 1991 the best month for the National Association of Homebuilders real estate index was June, with a reading of 42. In 1996 the worst month was February, with a reading of 49.
I very much doubt the Delaware market had gone soft all by itself and I further doubt that this Mr. Stoltz, who appears to be well off, was in a hurry to sell and felt obliged to dump the property in a weak market.
C'mon, Stoltz did a favor for a friend., which is a scandal when Republicans are involved. As to why a real estate developer with holdings across the country wants a friend in the Senate, need you ask?