Welcome back to our real estate newsletter, where the biggest mover of the week is one of the biggest in the world: Amazon.
Jeff Bezos already owns his own place in Southern California — a cozy little $165 million mansion in Beverly Hills — but his company is now taking up more space across the region. This week, the retail giant announced three new office leases with a combined area of 439,000 square feet in Santa Monica, Irvine and San Diego.
The new offices will accompany a hiring spree of 2,500 local corporate and technology jobs, but the announcement comes at a crucial time for Amazon. Last week, the company reported a quarterly loss of $3.8 billion, acknowledging that a previous hiring spree during the pandemic left it with a surplus of workers and warehouse space.
On the luxe side, two lists showed us exactly how valuable land and space became in Los Angeles’ largest pockets during the pandemic.
The first is in Beverly Crest, where the CEO of high-end furniture retailer RH emptied his half-built home for $24 million. With paneled windows and weeds growing on the rooftop, the modern mansion that was left forgotten in the middle of a renovation looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie, but it still makes a huge profit. Records show that the CEO bought it in the same unlivable condition just three years ago for $15 million.
At Bel-Air, the reality TV star is striving for similar success. Lili Ghalichi, who starred in Bravo’s “Shahs of Sunset,” is shopping around her Mediterranean-style mansion for $32 million — a little more than the $19.5 million she paid in 2020. Prior to her, she owned overdue cars for nearly three Titan Lee Iacocca contracts, whose many innovations include the development of the Ford Mustang.
On the design front: Peek at a little sanctuary in Silver Lake inspired by Richard Neutra. It’s only 144 square feet, but the acoustically insulated box in the grounds surrounded by gardens is the perfect escape from the cacophony of the city.
In our explanation for this week, we break down the Forgiveable Equity Generator Loan Assistance Program, a new government housing initiative with a name so vague and long that I got bored just writing it down. It’s totally worth considering, though, as it offers a potential life-changing tool for first-time homeowners in California: a 0% down payment loan. Check the details to see if you qualify.
While staying up-to-date, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.
Amazon expands into SoCal
Amazon is dramatically expanding its white-collar presence in Southern California, announcing office leases to accommodate 2,500 new corporate and technology jobs in Santa Monica, Irvine and San Diego.
The e-commerce giant said it had signed three leases, over a combined 439,000 square feet, for what it described as “tech hubs” in the three cities. Leases increase Amazon’s Southern California office space to more than 1.5 million square feet, which is an increase of more than 40%, according to real estate brokerage data.
The Seattle company said it plans to hire locally for positions in various fields, including retail, operations, games and web services. Specific roles include software development engineers, game designers, and user experience designers.
The three offices are the latest in a series of locations that Amazon has opened over the past two years to deal with the surge in demand from consumers staying at home during the pandemic. Last week, the company admitted that the hiring spree left it with too many workers and too much storage space as it reported a quarterly loss of $3.8 billion.
Furniture tycoon gets a fortune for an unfinished house
Gary Friedman, CEO of high-end furniture retailer RH (formerly Restoration Hardware), has quietly sold his half-built home in Beverly Crest for $24 million.
The off-market deal highlights the elevated value of land in wealthy pockets of Los Angeles since the pandemic. Records show that Friedman purchased the property in its half-finished state for $15 million in 2019, so the sale yields a profit of $9 million.
Even in its unlivable state, it is not surprising that the property brought such wealth. It is located at the end of a cul-de-sac and sprawls over 2.8 acres – a rare stretch of land for the neighborhood.
For reference, of the 105 properties currently on offer in Beverly Crest, only 15 are over 2 acres. Of those, 14 cost more than $20 million.
Reality star lists giant motor palace
In Bel-Air, the old home of the late auto giant Lee Iacocca is on the market for $32 million just two years after it was traded for $19.5 million.
The seller is Lily Ghalichi, the reality star who appeared in Bravo’s Shahs of Sunset. She and her husband, Dara Meer, made some changes during their two-year stay, updating the kitchen with a marble island and adding herringbone floors in the bedroom.
Prior to Ghalichi, the house had been owned for nearly three decades by Iacocca, who was best known for developing the Ford Mustang as well as saving Chrysler Corp from the brink of bankruptcy as CEO in the 1980s. His daughter sold the estate after his death in 2019.
Terrarium-like gem in Silver Lake
After many years spent in Richard Neutra’s 900-square-foot Macintosh’s Silver Lake home, architect John Bertram and his wife, actress and writer Anne Magnuson felt cramped and wanted more space but didn’t need the kitchen and bathroom that came with an attached condominium, Lisa wrote Bonn.
So last year, over the course of five months and at a cost of $170,000, Bertram added a soundproofed backyard studio designed and permitted as an entertainment room. It now serves as a quiet haven where a couple can work, write and meditate in the silence of one room.
Like a Japanese tea house, the room has been intentionally kept, without any visual distractions. The entertainment room is carefully located in the sloping backyard behind the couple’s Silver Lake home, and has a terrarium atmosphere as a result of its low position and wide Fleetwood windows, including one at chest level that opens comfortably to allow Lucy, the couple’s cat, easy access to the unit.
A new program that offers real estate loans at 0% interest
Andrew Khoury writes that low-income Californians looking to buy a home have a new tool at their disposal: an interest-free loan to use for a down payment that, if certain criteria are met, doesn’t have to be repaid.
The California Housing Finance Agency began providing this assistance last month through the Forgotten Equity Builder Loan Assistance Program. The Times outlined the program in March as part of a series on how to buy a home in Southern California.
Here are more details of what’s on offer, as the state tries to make it easier for first-time buyers in a brutal housing market.
what we read
Plenty of TV shows highlight the absurdity of the luxury real estate market, but the East Coast housing battle is contrasting a different kind of show: “Succession.” The story revolves around the Alfieri family, who, like Roys on the popular HBO show, fight over a real estate fortune worth hundreds of millions. The New York Post has the story.
As a home buyer in the modern market, real estate companies and hedge funds may be competing to find the home of your dreams. A Goldman Sachs-backed rental fund has taken the troubling trend to a new level, purchasing an entire community of 87 single-family homes in Florida, according to Benzinga.