Welcome back to the Real Estate Newsletter, where the spring market sees the appearance of prized properties from celebrities both dead and alive.
Let’s start with the living. The first is Michael Eisner, the former CEO of The Walt Disney Company who is shopping around his Malibu property for $225 million. He’s been putting together the pool for more than two decades, and if he gets his price tag (or anything soon), it’ll be the most expensive home sale in California history.
What makes a house like this so precious? Two things: size and secrecy. The five-acre spread includes nine buildings that are almost unparalleled – even in a wealthy community like Malibu. It is also located above Watkins Cove, which is a very exclusive beach that is difficult for the public to access due to the tides. History has shown us time and time again that billionaires will go to great lengths to avoid interaction with the public.
Another notable seller is Madonna, who ordered $26 million for the Hidden Hills mansion she bought from The Weeknd last year for $19.3 million. It’s an ambitious question, especially given that she hasn’t put much work into the property besides converting the barn into a gym and Pilates studio.
Our aforementioned list comes posthumously from legendary comedian Betty White, whose old Brentwood home went up for sale for $10.575 million.
It’s White’s second property to hit the market since her December death of 99. In March, her Carmel-by-the-Sea beach house sold for $10.775 million.
We also checked in in Orange County, where the market just hit an amazing standard L.A. County has never achieved. As of March, the median sales price for a home there was $1 million, making it the first Southern California county to achieve that lofty figure. Like most housing news over the past few years, it’s great for sellers and brutal for buyers.
Spring is a time of transformation. Dormant plants wear brand-new flowers, leaves return to barren trees, and a former stronghold of the press turns into a military technical operation. At least that’s what’s happening in Orange County, where the former Los Angeles Times complex is now occupied by a defense contractor that designs drones. It’s a stark contrast, and we’ve paused to reflect on the stark change.
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Disney’s longtime boss is chasing a record
Michael Eisner is chasing a record Malibu scam, listing his prized oceanfront complex for $225 million. If he gets his price, it will be the most expensive home sale in California history.
Eisner, the media mogul who served as CEO of The Walt Disney Company from 1984 to 2005, had been assembling the complex for more than two decades. Records show that he bought the first lot in the 1990s and added at least four adjacent parcels in the years since.
The $225 million price tag is about $50 million higher than the current sales record in California, set last year when billionaire Mark Andreessen slashed $177 million on his own pool — also in Malibu. The American record belongs to hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, who paid $238 million for a penthouse in New York City in 2019.
Madonna looks heartbroken
The Queen of Pop is trying to flip a house with her own hands. A year after buying The Weeknd’s Hidden Hills mansion for $19.3 million, Madonna is shopping for $26 million.
Interior photos are scarce, so it’s unclear how many changes Madonna made to justify a $6.7 million price increase. The only confirmed upgrade is the barn, which the pop star has converted into a gym and Pilates studio.
Spread over three acres, the comfort-packed complex offers plenty to do inside and out. The centerpiece of the property is a 12,500-square-foot exhibition space built in 2017; It is accessed by a dedicated bridge and a winding path lined with olive trees.
The wave of selling Betty White after her death
Weeks after Betty White’s beach house went up for sale, the late actor’s other home in Brentwood has hit the market for $10.575 million.
If the sale in Brentwood went anything like selling her home in Carmel-by-the-Sea, it would be a massive success. The beach house hit the market for $7.95 million in March, and an offer was accepted less than two weeks later. According to the listing agency, it is set to sell for $10.775 million — $2.825 million more than the asking price.
White, who died in December at the age of 99, bought the Brentwood home with her game show host husband Allen Lowden in the 1960s. Built a decade ago, the colonial-style venue is tucked behind the gates and features patches of stone and pops of yellow across the outside.
The 3,000-square-foot floor plan features five bedrooms and six bathrooms, but the property itself is marketed as demolished. The listing pictures only show the outside, potential buyers won’t be able to get inside.
Orange County reaches $1 million
Andrew Khoury writes that the median home price in Orange County hit $1 million last month, becoming the first Southern California county to reach this exorbitant level and underscores just how expensive the area is.
The threshold was crossed when the Orange County median sales price of new and existing homes, condos and cottages rose from $985,000 in February to $1,020,000 in March, according to data released this week by researcher DQNews. It’s a 22% jump in average price from the previous year.
Million-dollar homes quickly spread across Southern California during the pandemic, becoming popular in communities once thought to be relatively affordable such as Highland Park and West Adams in Los Angeles County. The median price in Los Angeles County rose to $840,000 in March, up 12% from the previous year.
The former press building is now used for drones
When the Los Angeles Times opened its Orange County offices in 1968, the event was too low profile to generate coverage in the pages of the newspaper itself. However, the office and printing factory featured in the classifieds, with The Times advertising part-time jobs – “Call now!” — whose responsibilities were mysteriously abandoned, writes Carolina A. Miranda.
Now, The Times’ old Orange County headquarters has found new life thanks to Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, who pulled the scalpels and began cutting the ceiling and open walls to produce skylights and windows. There is a gorgeous outdoor lounge in the heart of the complex – crowned by the remnants of old signs from the Los Angeles Times – indicating the location where the breeze once stood.
In addition to the new look and name, the complex now known as The Press also has a new tenant: Anduril, a defense contractor that designs drones. It is a symbolic reflection of architectural purpose: a building that once inhabited a newsroom, an institution that allegedly sheds uncomfortably light on the inner workings of power, will now be used for the purpose of fabricating secret military technology.
what we read
Will housing prices fall? An interactive chart from Fortune seeks to answer that question, placing housing markets across the country into five different categories based on the likelihood of lower home prices next year. Unfortunately, all of Southern California ranks in the “low probability” category except for the city of Imperial Valley in El Centro, which is classified as medium.
Buying and renting a beach house can be profitable, but some areas are more profitable than others. The New York Times detailed the best beach towns for landlords, and Gulf Shores, Ala., ranked first. No communities in California made the top ten, which includes three cities in Florida and two in North Carolina.