Porsche to Debut in Real Estate Sector with Luxury Condos


porsche design towerPorsche, the luxury automobile manufacturing giant is reportedly planning a grand entry into the real estate sector with a luxury high-rise condo apartment building slated to be completed by 2016 in Miami, Florida, according to several media reports.

The posh condo apartment called “The Porsche Design Tower” will be a 57-floor, 132-unit apartment building. Porsche is developing the property with popular real estate firm, Dezer Developers. Designed by the Sieger Suarez Architectural Partnership, the high-rise will be one of a kind, reports Luxurylaunches.com.

The most interesting feature of the building is that it will have a separate robotic elevator for your car! So, if you had once dreamed of driving directly to your doorstep, this might just be a possibility.

The car elevators follow a three-step procedure. Firstly, the car is scanned, then it is placed onto a turntable, aligning the car with the lift and finally, a robotic arm takes the vehicle into one of the three glass elevators and takes you to your respective condo in the building! However, one can also opt for a passenger-only lift, while a valet parks your car through the robotic lift. A special car concierge will take care of car maintenance in the building. All the cars will be parked in a sky-garage.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the condos will range from 4200 to 17,000 square feet in size and the price will range from somewhere around $4.5 million to $25 million. Almost 50 percent of the condos have already gone under the escrow, representing proceeds of around $400 million.

The condos will have large floor-to-ceiling glass windows that will allow ample views of the car-garage. The apartments will have modern European architectural design with amenities like private pools in each unit and summer kitchens as well.

www.realtytoday.com by Rapti Gupta

High-end home sales on a roll in state


Kim+Kardashian+Kanye+West+reportedly+splashed+s18iVYse3yflCalifornia’s luxury housing market is booming.

In activity reminiscent of real estate’s bubble years, the number of homes statewide selling at more than $5 million reached an all-time high last year, while those selling at $1 million or more rose to the highest level since 2007, a real estate information service has reported.

Sales are up because well-heeled U.S. and international buyers, confident that the housing recovery is solid, are looking for places to park their cash, real estate experts said. Also playing a role was a rush among the very wealthy to take advantage of lower capital gains taxes by selling before year end.

“Last year was gangbusters,” said Dave Fratello, an agent with the Real Group in Manhattan Beach, the busiest Southern California community for $1-million-plus sales in 2012. “We flipped very quickly from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market.”

Across California, 697 homes sold for more than $5 million, beating the previous high of 491 in 2011, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The 2012 sales mark was the highest since DataQuick began tracking such sales in 1988.

The 26,993 homes sold at $1-million-plus represented a 26.9% jump from 2011, DataQuick said. In comparison, 42,502 home sales exceeded the million-dollar mark in 2007, before the mortgage meltdown dragged down prices across the housing market.

The record was set in 2005, when 54,773 homes sold for $1 million or more. The luxury market outpaced overall sales, which were up 8.2% statewide.

“The very top, it is a record level — well beyond what it was in the bubble period,” said John Karevoll, analyst for DataQuick.

Hillsborough, in the San Francisco Bay Area, claimed the top spot with 422 sales at $1 million-plus. Like many neighborhoods in Silicon Valley and environs, Hillsborough’s sales growth was driven by a wave of buyers from the technology sector.

Southern California communities with the most $1-million-plus sales included Manhattan Beach, Newport Beach, La Jolla, Brentwood, Beverly Hills and Laguna Beach.

“We’re hitting that perfect storm of buyer demand, low inventory and attractive housing prices,” said Paul Habibi, who teaches real estate at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Gary Painter, director of research and an economist with the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, said the high-end niche is more likely to be driven by the international economy rather than what is going on in the U.S. — which suffered an unexpected economic contraction during the last three months of the year, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

As a result, the luxury market is benefiting from a continued influx of wealthy international buyers who are betting on the potential of prime housing to appreciate and view luxury home prices in the U.S. as bargains versus other parts of the world.

Foreign buyers spent 24% more on U.S. real estate last year than in 2011, according to an annual survey by the National Assn. of Realtors. These buyers represented 8.9% of all housing spending. Asian shoppers are particularly interested in California homes, the study said.

Sandra Miller of Engel & Volkers, a broker who specializes in international buyers and luxury properties, said that “the money is really coming from everywhere.”

While her office is dealing with an onslaught of Italians, buyers are coming from London and Germany. Chinese buyers are snapping up homes in the $1-million to $5-million range for their children, she said, but not ultra-luxurious estates.

“The very, very large sales last year were done with Russian money,” Miller said.

DataQuick’s Karevoll cautioned that the boom at the luxury level doesn’t automatically translate to continued sales and price improvement for all homes.

“As a bellwether for a market as a whole, however, it is really hard to read what it means,” he said. “The broader market and what we call the ‘prestige’ market — homes from about $2 million to $3 million and up — seem to dance to two different tunes.”

In Manhattan Beach, most homes are priced at more than $1 million, said Fratello, who is also a housing market blogger at MB Confidential. “The days of little cottages for under $1 million are mostly behind us.”

A low supply of homes for sale kept a lid on sales in the sought-after beach community, Fratello added. Bidding wars returned.

“With another 10% in sales our volume would have matched all the bubble years,” he said, referring to 2004 to 2006.

A tear-down in the so-called Tree Section of Manhattan Beach drew 20 offers in March, selling for $1.352 million — $250,000 above the asking price. A 2,600-square-foot Midcentury-style house in need of work in the same block attracted 15 bidders. Listed at $1.6 million, it sold for $1.88 million.

“Everybody is shaking their heads,” Fratello said. “This is crazy.”

Cash buyers accounted for a record 7,791 of the million-dollar home sales, up from 5,802 in 2011. Many of those presumably are investors looking for better places to put their money than the stock market or other investments.

The most expensive transaction to appear in public records was the $117.5-million sale of an 8,930-square-foot mansion on nine acres in the Northern California community of Woodside.

Among top sales in the Los Angeles area was billionaire Larry Ellison’s purchase of a three-structure compound in Malibu for $36.9 million. “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest paid $36.5 million for talk show host Ellen DeGeneres’ three-property spread in Beverly Hills, and the family of the late philanthropist Max Palevsky sold his Malibu mansion for $36.5 million just before the end of last year.

Almost all home sales were in $1-million-plus territory in the communities of Ross in Marin County; San Marino and Santa Monica in Los Angeles County; Los Altos in Santa Clara County; Atherton and Hillsborough in San Mateo County; and Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County.

Los Angeles Times

lauren.beale@latimes.com

Homes of Millionaires under 25


Celebrities trading real estate isn’t a phenomenon relegated to older stars settling down. Real estate transactions start young, with some stars picking up luxe pads before they are legally adults.

By age 25, some celebrities have already had their share of homes, secluded from paparazzi with gated entrances, hedges and, of course, plenty of entertaining space.

Miley Cyrus

At age 20, Miley Cyrus is both a seasoned performer and home buyer. She bought her first house at age 17 — a 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath house in Toluca Lake, CA near her parents’ residence for $3.4 million. The former Disney star also plunked down $1.85 for a condo in Florida, but shortly after, returned it to the real estate market for $1.96 million. Cyrus bought her most recent home, located in Studio City, for $3.9 million in August 2011. The gated and walled compound is situated on a private country lane and includes a state-of-the-art security system.

 

 

 

 

Taylor Swift

Just 23 years old, the pop-country singer holds a collection of real estate in California, Nashville, and for a short while, Cape Cod. Taylor Swift spends most of her time, however, at her California residence: a gated and charming Beverly Hills home that she purchased for $3.97 million in April 2011. When she’s not on tour, the singer is said to love to host sleepovers with fellow under-25 A-listers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Bieber

If you can measure someone’s worth by their Twitter followers, Justin Bieber is worth quite a lot. The 19-year-old singer was discovered singing on YouTube, signed to Usher’s label and the rest is teen-girl-frenzy history. Shortly after his 18th birthday, Bieber bought his first home, a Spanish-style estate in a gated community of Calabasas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kristen Stewart

The “Twilight”-franchise actress didn’t buy her first home until just recently. Kristen Stewart and long-time boyfriend Robert Pattinson split for a few months, and while the relationship was on a hiatus, Stewart picked up a Los Feliz residence of her own. Situated behind paparazzi-proof walls, the hillside home is surrounded by tropical landscaping and sweeping views of the skyline and valley below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rihanna

Rihanna’s first foray into real estate didn’t go so well. The Grammy-winning singer bought a brand-new home for $6.9 million at age 21, but ended up getting rid of it as a short sale and suing the builder and real estate agents involved in the transaction. RiRi claimed the home was poorly constructed with numerous of water leaks causing serious damage. The 25-year-old singer tried her hand at real estate again earlier this year, buying a brand-new modern manse in the Pacific Palisades at age 24.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miranda Cosgrove

When you’re a teen-TV star, forget living in the dorms your freshman year. Miranda Cosgrove, who recently ended her stint on the popular Nickelodeon show “iCarly,” was ranked one of television’s highest paid actresses. Her hefty paycheck allowed the 19-year-old to spend $2.65 million on a traditional home in the Lower Outpost Estates area, just 20 minutes from the University of Southern California’s main Los Angeles campus.

 

 

 

 

 

Selena Gomez

Like many stars on the under-25 list, Selena Gomez got her start on kids’ television, first starring in “Barney & Friends,” and then moving up to Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.” Gomez also recently recorded an album and is currently staring alongside James Franco in “Spring Breakers,” which already cracked the box-office top 10 after hitting theaters March 22. Her L.A. home was once owned by Jonah Hill and sits on just under an acre, gated corner lot in Tarzana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emma Stone

Actress Emma Stone reportedly picked up her first house with “The Amazing Spider-Man” co-star and boyfriend Andrew Garfield in late 2012. They chose a private gated home in Beverly Hills for $2.5 million. Situated behind high hedges, the 4-bedroom house has ample outdoor living space to soak up the California sun.

Luxury Home Sales Soared in Final Months of 2012


Sales of luxury homes spiked in the final months of 2012 as high-end homeowners rushed to take advantage of lower tax rates before Jan. 1.

Many sellers wanted to cash in on their homes before a widely expected capital gains hike — to 20% from 15% — that was part of the fiscal cliff budget deal. High-income earners (singles with income of $200,000 or more and couples making more than $250,000) also wanted to close sales ahead of a 3.8% Medicare surtax on investment income that was already slated to go into effect this year as part of the Affordable Care Act.

All told, a high-earner would pay $88,000 less in taxes if they made a $1 million profit on their home in 2012 rather than in 2013.

That considerable tax savings motivated many wealthy homeowners to move fast. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sales of homes valued at $1 million or more spiked 51% in November compared with a year earlier.

In Manhattan, one of the most expensive markets in the nation, the number of sales of homes valued at more than $10 million jumped 44% year-over-year during the last three months of 2012, according to broker Brown Harris Stevens.

“Ever since last summer, when people realized that the fiscal cliff was approaching, there was an incentive to get deals done,” said Meredyth Smith, an agent for Sotheby’s International Real Estate.

Several of her clients hurried to close by the end of December. When one prospective buyer couldn’t move that quickly, the seller called off the deal entirely, she said. He may reprice it entirely before putting it back on the market this year, she said.

Some sellers lowered prices for buyers who promised to close before Jan. 1. John Parsegian, an agent with Halstead Property, helped broker a $14 million condo sale in midtown Manhattan that closed in late December. The seller had structured the deal so that the home would cost $175,000 less if it finalized before January. He also threw in some furniture.

Other sellers prevailed on co-op boards to speed up their approval processes, according to Sotheby’s CEO Philip White. Managing agents representing co-ops and condos had trouble handling all of the paperwork for all the sellers who were anxious to close.

For the first time in 26 years, Jonathan Miller, president of New York appraisal firm Miller Samuel, had to turn away business. “I call it ‘bedlam in appraiserville,’” he said. “It was clearly skewed toward high-end properties.”

Looking ahead, all those rushed deals could mean a slight slump in high-end sales early in 2013, said White. Not only will buyers be in shorter supply but the inventory of luxury homes has dropped precipitously.

But White thinks the drop-off will be short-lived. Historically low interest rates should continue making the long-term cost of buying these homes attractive to buyers. In addition, foreign buyers continue to invest in U.S. properties and many domestic buyers are starting to come off the sidelines now that home prices are starting to recover.

CNN Money – By Les Christie

California Luxury Home Values Rise Again


Luxury home values rose in California’s major metropolitan markets in the third quarter of 2012 compared to a year ago, according to the First Republic Prestige Home Index™ by First Republic Bank, a leading private bank and wealth management company.

In the quarter that ended Sept. 30, 2012, the Index indicated the following:
San Francisco Bay Area values rose 8.1% from the third quarter of 2011 and gained 2.4% from the second quarter of 2012. The average luxury home in San Francisco is now $2.73 million.
Los Angeles area values rose 1% from the third quarter a year ago and declined 0.8% from the second quarter of 2012. The average luxury home in Los Angeles is now $2.02 million.
San Diego area values climbed 2.2% year-over-year and increased 0.8% from the second quarter of 2012. The average luxury home in San Diego is now $1.66 million.
“Luxury home prices were particularly strong in the San Francisco Bay Area during the third quarter of 2012,” said Katherine August-deWilde, President and Chief Operating Officer of First Republic Bank. “The Bay Area economy is healthy, inventory is limited, and multiple offers are increasingly the norm. Values in Los Angeles and San Diego are rising, and some neighborhoods are experiencing strong demand. Historic low interest rates have resulted in an elevated level of activity in luxury markets throughout California.”
First Republic Bank produces the Prestige Home Index each quarter with Fiserv CSW Inc., a leading provider of automated property valuation services and home price metrics to U.S. financial institutions. Historical results of the Index, which has tracked luxury homes since 1985, are accessible at www.firstrepublic.com. First Republic Bank is an active lender in the luxury home market for primary residences and vacation homes.
San Francisco Bay Area Values
The Bay Area posted its second consecutive quarter of healthy gains on a year-over-year basis. The 8.1% year-over-year increase in the third quarter of 2012 was the highest since the first quarter of 2006.
In San Francisco, agents said the market remains robust. “Prices for luxury homes have been strong all year,” said Malcolm Kaufman of McGuire Real Estate in San Francisco. “There is limited inventory, the economy here has returned better than anywhere in the country, and employment is up. Lots of money is being spent on $5 million homes and $10 million homes. For some, it feels like 2005 again.”
In Silicon Valley, the market was very strong. “People have secure jobs and stable incomes,” said Pat Kalish of Intero Real Estate Services in Menlo Park. “Except for the highest end of the luxury market, there is strong competition for properties. We have scarcity of homes, historic low interest and an optimistic outlook. When you are out in the market, you feel the optimism.”
In the Marin County, the market was softer. “Marin has not seen the increases that have happened in Menlo Park or San Francisco,” said Pat Montag of Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty in Mill Valley. “We typically lag a quarter behind San Francisco. We did see an uptick at the end of third quarter in the $3 million to $5 million range. Many people are still waiting until they see what happens in Washington D.C. in the first quarter.”
Los Angeles Area Values
In Los Angeles, values rose 1% on a year-over-year basis, but edged down from the second quarter of 2012. Real estate agents said the most desirable locations in Los Angeles area continue to experience accelerating demand and price increases.
Dan Weiser of Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills South said sales activity had returned to pre-financial crisis levels. “On the west side of Los Angeles, inventory is scarce and demand is high. We’re back to 2007 sales volume. Prices are probably within 10% of the height of the market. Sellers are getting incredible prices for properties in the highest end of the luxury market.”
Michele Hall of Coldwell Banker in Brentwood said newly constructed luxury homes are selling quickly. “New construction is flying off the shelf, with all cash and multiple offers. We’re seeing multiple offers in every price range, and there are fewer foreclosures and short sales. Inventory opened up, but was then snapped up.”
In Santa Barbara, the market also was very active. “The luxury market is very strong in Santa Barbara and Montecito,” said Joanne Schoenfeld of Santa Barbara Living Real Estate Brokerage. “There is a lot more activity and closed sales than last year. Prices continue to rise slightly, and I don’t see them going down any time soon. It’s a good, strong market.”
San Diego Area Values
San Diego luxury homes continued to trend higher on a year-over-year basis. Prices have now increased for the past three quarters on a year-over-year basis, including a 2.2% gain in the third quarter compared to a year ago.
For properties over $3 million, sales activity is picking up. “We have had a higher number of units sold this year than last year for homes over $3 million,” said Michael Taylor of California Prudential Realty in Rancho Santa Fe. “To me, that indicates fear has been wrung out of the market. People are now willing to spend more to buy a home, and they’re getting significantly more home because of the recent price declines. The perception is that we are at the bottom of this market.”
In the $1.5 million to $2 million range, there is more inventory, said Farid Khayamian of Bluxen Real Estate in La Jolla. “There are a lot of people who want to buy,” Khayamian said. “We see multiple offers everywhere, particularly when the property is priced right. A year ago, there was more inventory due to short sales and foreclosures, but that has dried up. Right now, you have to buy at the asking price. In January, we will have more inventory and possibly lower prices.”

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool – www.dailyfinance.com

Developer Rick Caruso pushing limits of luxury apartments in L.A.


Rick Caruso, who developed such plush shopping centers as the Grove, spent $65 million building an 87-unit complex where the cheapest apartment is $4,500 a month.

With apartments holding strong as the hottest class in commercial real estate, developer Rick Caruso is testing the limits of the luxury category in Los Angeles with his residential complex that just opened on Burton Way.

The developer, best known for his plush outdoor shopping centers such as the Grove, spent $65 million building an 87-unit complex where the cheapest apartment is $4,500 a month and many cost more than $10,000.

“Those are New York rents,” Caruso acknowledged. At about $8 a square foot, they are quadruple the Los Angeles average. One furnished penthouse will go on the market for $40,000 a month.

Caruso hopes well-off renters will find his 8500 Burton Way tower both swanky and laid back, a California kind of place where tenants can work out with an on-staff private trainer, be served breakfast by the saltwater swimming pool on the roof and then catch a ride to the airport in a chauffeured black BMW “house car” parked downstairs.

“It’s going to be like a six-star hotel,” Caruso said, with his customary brio.

The developer, who recently bowed out of the Los Angeles mayoral race, is not known for scrimping or half measures — an 18-foot gold-plated nude sculpture in a fountain is the centerpiece of his Americana at Brand shopping center in Glendale.

The 8500 Burton Way complex is clad in white marble that Caruso personally selected in Italy and has an ornate garden visible only to tenants. By making the eight-story building out of concrete, Caruso was able to install floor-to-ceiling windows thick enough to shut out the traffic noise from La Cienega Boulevard below.

The layout of the complex was guided by a feng shui master, but Caruso insists on making such detailed decisions as what make of scented candles burn nonstop in the lobby (Unionmade’s KML) and what kind of hardwood was used (Ipe). The fireplace in the center of the tenants’ club room “didn’t come out right,” he said, and is being replaced.

Residents can take a private elevator to the Trader Joe’s on the ground floor or email a shopping list to the concierge, who will see that the items are purchased and put away in tenants’ refrigerators and cupboards. Room service will be provided from the Larder at Burton Way, an in-house restaurant set to open in mid-February.

One-third of the units are rented, Caruso said.
A decision by the State Bar of California to move its longtime headquarters in downtown Los Angeles has cleared the way for a $250-million apartment and retail complex on what is now the State Bar’s parking lot near Staples Center.

Beverly Hills developer Sonny Astani and parking lot giant L&R Group of Cos. bought the 3-acre property from the lawyers’ group for $29 million. It is surrounded by South Olive Street, South Grand Avenue, West Pico Boulevard and West 12th Street.

“This is probably the last large parking lot downtown that is unentitled and undeveloped,” Astani said.

His firm Astani Enterprises Inc. plans to build 640 apartments in two seven-story buildings that would have shops and restaurants on the ground floors. He hopes to start work within a year.

The land sale helped fund the State Bar’s recent $50-million purchase of a building at 845 S. Figueroa St., where it will move after nearly 20 years in an AT&T Center building on Hill Street. The seller was L&R, which is renovating the 1960s-era building to make it into modern offices.

Astani has 2,500 apartments in $1 billion worth of mixed-use buildings in the pipeline for development in Hollywood, Koreatown, downtown and the Westside, he said.
Hudson Pacific Properties Inc. bought a 60% share of the $342-million Pinnacle office complex in Burbank from M. David Paul & Associates/Worthe Real Estate Group, bringing together two of Southern California’s biggest entertainment industry landlords as co-owners.

The Pinnacle is made up of two office buildings on 4.3 acres near Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank Studios and Walt Disney Studios. Tenants include Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., KIIS-FM and Elektra Entertainment.

Among properties owned by Hudson Pacific are Sunset Bronson Studios, Sunset Gower Studios and the Technicolor Building.

“The Pinnacle will be extremely complementary to our portfolio and will provide Hudson with an immediate foothold in one of the top media and entertainment submarkets in Los Angeles,” Chief Executive Victor J. Coleman said.

By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times

LA Bachelor Pads See Real Estate Success


Here’s the single man’s real estate wet dream: An ultracool property outfitted with lights that dim; fireplaces inside and out; a sleek, modern kitchen; privacy; pool; and preferably, jetliner views. Animal prints and lava lamps may still be included—but only as ironic touches. “Doesn’t have any grass, only a view,” is how Ben Bacal, agent for Sotheby’s International Realty, pairs down the property pinnacle for bachelors. The poolside must be loungelike, with space for entertaining, as LA’s affluent bachelor essentially desires a “Soho House in his backyard,” says Bacal.

There’s a long tradition of statement residences for bachelors, and Hollywood’s bachelor elite has famously played into the convention. The 1970s saw the Jack Nicholson/Warren Beatty playboy era—Nicholson’s Mulholland Drive home and Beatty’s 15-year residency at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel have since acquired legendary status. These days it’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s Bird Street-located aerie and his beachfront Malibu Colony compound (available for lease this summer for $150,000 per month) that typify the contemporary, sexy leading man’s bachelor digs. Although Ashton Kutcher’s new manse—a glass and steel stunner offering views of Lake Hollywood (asking price was $10.8 million)—with its floating dining room, home theater, gym, infinity-edge pool, and sauna, is an extravagant come-on.

“[Bachelors] want to be in the areas where the action is,” says real estate agent Mike Deasy, CEO and managing partner of Deasy/Penner & Partners, notably in places above Sunset Strip—the Bird Streets or Trousdale Estates, close to bars and clubs in Hollywood or Downtown. Mulholland Drive, an artery to almost every hot spot, attracts the sports-car and motorcycle-riding types, says Bacal. He’s seen Bronson and Nichols Canyons gain cachet because of their accessibility to Hollywood’s nightlife. “Privacy is another must-have,” says Keller Williams Realty’s Jamie Adner (adnergroup.blogspot.com). High fences, walls, and hedges that make for a cloistered world are desirable. “The bachelor wants to be able to entertain, party, and romance at any hour of the day without anyone knowing what’s going on,” Adner contends.

“Much sought after is the ranch, midcentury lake home or authentic Spanish house with a very specific axis: house, pool, then view,” Deasy notes. In contrast, the South Bay’s beach communities are magnets for pro athletes. “A lot of professional athletes live down there,” says Deasy, because the Lakers and Kings training facilities are in nearby El Segundo. Venice—now referred to as “Silicon Beach”—attracts the single, high-tech types from Google, Yahoo!, and other tech companies.

“Each of these areas has different action, so to speak,” says Deasy. Outdoorsy guys favor the beach cities because of the accessibility to biking and surfing. Surprisingly, storage is a concern. “Bachelors need a lot of storage: They might have five surfboards, snowboards, skis, cars, and everything else,” adds the agent. “Storage is even more important than an extra bedroom in some cases,” he notes. Downtown’s minimalist and modern loft living attracts buyers with a different mind-set, expressed as hip, adventurous, and arts-oriented. The multilevel loft penthouse at the Biscuit Company Lofts is on the high end of the urban-chic spectrum. (Once leased by Nicolas Cage, the penthouse, owned by actor-director Vincent Gallo, sold for an asking price in the neighborhood of $2.599 million.) Completely private—a world unto itself—the penthouse’s wraparound rooftop terrace has extraordinary city views.

The 38 live/work townhomes of 940 E. 2nd Street in Downtown’s Arts District feature architectural details such as exposed steel beams and brick walls. A repurposing of a historic sugar depot, the property features a unique interior street that allows home owners to park right at their door. (Pricing starts at $585,000 for a 1,332-square-foot unit.) Pro-sports fans are calling Downtown home because of its proximity to the Staples Center, Dodger Stadium, and the area’s happening nightlife.

To complete the bachelor-pad picture, there are some interior must-haves. Whether or not the bachelor cooks, owing to guys’ obsession with gadgetry, the kitchen must be fully tricked out with a hidden dishwasher, Poliform-style cabinets, and built-ins such as a Miele espresso machine. “An extravagant master bath, practically as big as the bedroom, is also part of the ultimate bachelor pad,” adds Adner.

Of course, the most coveted digs for a bachelor—a secluded midcentury home with stellar views—continues to hold value and even excel in the market. According to The Real Estalker blog, days after his marriage to actress-model Agyness Deyn, actor Giovanni Ribisi listed his private 1,600-square-foot Silver Lake hideaway with an open floor plan for $989,000; predictably, the three-bedroom, two-bath house went into escrow almost immediately.

Silicon Valley Reboots


Fueled by a tide of wealth from techies at Google, GOOG -0.45% LinkedIn LNKD +3.28% and others, Silicon Valley denizens are tearing down older properties and constructing new multimillion-dollar homes. But instead of copying the Craftsman, Mediterranean or other traditional styles that were the rage among the digerati last decade, many are trying something different: modern-contemporary architecture.

Among them: Facebook FB +19.13% Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is building a more-than-9,200-square-foot glass-and-wood contemporary mansion in Menlo Park, Calif., after tearing down a 2,900-square-foot house on the half-acre lot she and husband Dave Goldberg purchased for $2.9 million in 2009. Google executives including Steve Lawrence, creator of Google Desktop, and Jim Miller, vice president of world-wide operations, have torn down and constructed modern homes. (Mr. Lawrence’s house in Palo Alto, Calif., scheduled to be completed next year, has other contemporary touches, including a sports court with 18½-foot ceilings in the basement, plus a slide that goes from one floor to another.)

Danis Dayanov, who was an early employee at LinkedIn and is now chief executive of start-up Talkatone, plans to break ground next spring on a five-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot modern-style home in Los Altos Hills, Calif., which cost over $2.1 million for the land and the tear-down. And venture capitalist Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC earlier this year moved into a minimalist wood-and-glass home in Palo Alto.

The house doesn’t exactly fit the neighborhood, Mr. Clavier acknowledges. But “there will be a ton of tear-downs over the next few years,” he says. “We’ll see architecture evolve.”

The modern homes stand out in a region where building tastes have stayed decidedly old-fashioned. Despite being ahead of the curve in technology, many tech titans opted for traditional architecture: The late Steve Jobs lived in an English-country-style home in Palo Alto, while Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Hewlett-Packard Inc. HPQ -1.54% CEO Meg Whitman own traditional-style homes in the posh enclave of Atherton. When Russian tech investor Yuri Milner paid $100 million for a Los Altos Hills home last year, he bought a 25,500-square-foot home modeled after a French château.

Elsewhere in Silicon Valley, which was mostly developed for midlevel engineers, “if you drive around, it is ranch house after ranch house after ranch house,” says Bob Swatt, a high-end modern architect based in Emeryville, Calif.

Modern-style homes have been out of favor in Silicon Valley for about half a century, architects and builders say. In the 1950s and 1960s, modern homes went up in towns like Palo Alto and Menlo Park, developed by Joseph Eichler. The midcentury moderns, called “Eichlers,” have interiors with high ceilings, simple lines and wide expanses of glass.

But between then and now, modern-style homes were few and far between. James Witt, a Palo Alto developer who has constructed around 60 high-end houses over the past three decades, created a modern-style angular home in 1985—but it sat unsold for weeks, even though his traditional-style properties were typically snapped up before they were completed.

Modern “wasn’t accepted,” recalls Mr. Witt, who was so bruised by the experience that he didn’t attempt another contemporary-style home until 2010. “Nobody was doing it.”

Other attempts to go modern were beaten back by preservationists. Apple co-founder Mr. Jobs’s plans to tear down a historic Spanish Colonial Revival home in Woodside and rebuild a modern house were snarled for years after preservationists objected to any wrecking ball. The historic home was eventually demolished, but no new building plans are on file with the city, says Woodside Town Manager Kevin Bryant.

Now, however, a confluence of demographics, aging housing stock and—of course—new technology is driving a shift. Many Silicon Valley homes built after World War II are nearing the end of their natural lives. The homes were “not well-built or insulated and they don’t meet the space and quality demands of today,” says architect Mr. Swatt. That is spurring many homeowners to tear down instead of remodel, clearing the way for new architecture styles.

At the same time, a younger generation of techies is flooding Silicon Valley. Often in their 20s and 30s, the group is embracing a spare, clean look influenced by the home page of Google’s search engine and the minimalist aesthetic of Apple gadgets.

“I’m a fan of straight lines—it’s as simple as that,” says Sanjukta Mathur, a 27-year-old Google software engineer who with her husband purchased a 3,200-square-foot contemporary-style home in Palo Alto for $2.8 million last year. Her husband, Gaurav Mathur, a 30-year-old who founded a start-up now owned by Google, adds: “We grew up in the modern age and like contemporary.”

Beyond techies, other Silicon Valley professionals are also turning to contemporary-style residences. Steve Simpson, a local architect who designs both traditional and modern homes, says his business has flipped over the last five years to become dominated by clients—including finance executives and doctors—asking for modern styles.

“Before, 70% wanted traditional styles and 30% asked about modern, but now it’s 60% who want modern and 40% traditional,” Mr. Simpson says.

It isn’t only residential properties that are going modern. Apple is building a new corporate campus in Cupertino which has been dubbed iSpaceship by some for its futuristic design. When Mr. Jobs unveiled the plans for the campus last year before his death, he boasted there would not be “a single straight piece of glass in the building” and that architecture students would come to see the spectacle. This August, Facebook announced it is working with modernist architect Frank Gehry on a new section of its headquarters.

The trend of Silicon Valley tear-downs leading to modern homes has gathered steam since 2010. In Atherton, which has only about 2,500 homes, city data show that demolition permits rose to 56 last year from 29 in 2009. Thirty new residences were completed last year, up from 11 in 2009. Officials in towns such as Woodside, Palo Alto and Los Altos say they see similar trends.

Meanwhile, home prices have soared. In Palo Alto, the median price of a single-family home jumped to $1.7 million in August, up 34% from two years earlier, according to DataQuick MDA.T -0.68% . Even Facebook’s disappointing initial public offering hasn’t dampened the fervor: While Palo Alto’s median home price declined slightly following the social network’s May IPO, home prices are now climbing again.

“Homes are getting 15 offers each just to be torn down, with many bids $400,000 over asking,” says Ken DeLeon, a Palo Alto broker. In terms of styles, he adds, “Mediterranean homes are now very out, and contemporary overall is in.”

Nicole Vidalakis, a 42-year-old psychologist, is building a 7,000-square-foot, $15 million modern house with a 75-foot-long infinity swimming pool in Portola Valley that is 73% glass and is set to be finished next year. Her goal was a house that reflected her love of modern architecture, something that “looks like a piece of art that someone happens to live in.” But at the same time, she wanted to be in a rural setting. She says the experience overall has been great, but that early on, some neighbors complained about the home’s size and a fence.

“They’d say, ‘Why can’t they live in the old house?’ ” says Ms. Vidalakis, who is the daughter of a shopping mall developer.

Other homeowners have had less-thorny reactions to their tear-downs and rebuilds. Jeff Aalfs, 43, didn’t specifically ask for modern in the remodel and addition to his Portola Valley cottage. But when his architect, Field Architecture, showed him a very contemporary plan that would add 1,500 square feet by cascading the house down a hill, ending at the bottom with a family room with 17-foot ceilings, he loved the way it looked. After it was finished, he was appointed to the Architectural & Site Control Commission, in Portola Valley, where he says about half the new homes in the town are modern-contemporary.

Mr. Aalfs adds that when people have trouble with a project, it is almost always because of the size and placement of a house on a lot, and not about the style and design. Modern homes tend to draw more complaints because they have so much glass that people worry about what they call “light pollution”—neighbors being affected by all the light coming from the homes.

James Doty, 56, a Stanford University neurosurgeon and occasional entrepreneur, moved into a $5 million-plus four-bedroom modern home three months ago in Los Altos Hills after knocking down a ranch-style home on the lot. While the new home—with a metal roof and an exterior of Venetian plaster stucco, glass and stone—took 18 months to build, the neighbors were “supportive,” he says.

With so many neighbors in their 70s, “this area is just about to start undergoing a transition to new homes,” he adds. Down the street, another modern home is under construction, says Mr. Doty.

There are so many new modern homes in the area that some people worry about being accused of imitating their neighbors. Diana Desbard, a 50-year-old designer who works on commercial building projects for tech companies including Google and Facebook, and her husband, Michel Desbard, a venture capitalist, are building a 2,800-square-foot modern home in downtown Palo Alto that’s adjacent to a modern home designed by the same firm, Joseph Bellomo Architects. Though both homes will have a tubular steel frame and a flat roof, she was careful to make sure there were enough differences from the house next door—she opted for thermal-plastic siding and a beige concrete exterior, while her neighbor’s exterior is wood—so “it wouldn’t be a copycat,” she says.

Genni Lawrence, the wife of Google executive Steve Lawrence, says their new modern home could have been a cause of concern for neighbors because the couple tore down the existing ranch-style home and dug a 20-foot hole in the ground to accommodate the basement sports court. But after fielding questions about what the hole would turn into, most neighbors appeared satisfied, she says.

It helps that the house, which Ms. Lawrence says cost $2 million to buy and tear down and $5 million to rebuild, isn’t a severe modern boxlike home. Instead, the Lawrences are using cedar siding and stucco in a muted beige color for the exterior. From the street, the home looks like a one-story structure.

Ms. Lawrence says she and her family are looking forward to moving into the 7,000-square-foot four-bedroom, 5½-bathroom house next year after it’s done, particularly after living in a Mediterranean-style home for the past eight years. That home has a formal living and dining room that the family doesn’t use, and none of the wide open spaces and big windows that will come with the new home, she says.

“It didn’t match our lifestyle,” she says. “We like things very simple and clean and not fussy.”

America’s Priciest Real Estate List Almost Shuts Out Los Angeles


The East Coast media has robbed us again.
Forbes magazine seems to think the nation’s priciest real estate is in New York, when we all know that, despite the crazy gulf between rich and poor here, some L.A.-area land is as good as gold and California has more billionaires than just about anyplace on earth besides the United States itself, China and Russia.

Only one SoCal community made the Forbes list of “America’s Most Expensive ZIP Codes:”

Rolling Hills. According to the mag it has a median home price of $3.9 million. The 90274 ZIP code made No. 9 on the list.

A few Silicon Valley communities — Atherton, Hillsborough, Los Altos Hills — made the ranking.

But Manhattan dominated, with the Upper East Side’s 10065, home to Park Avenue and the Wall Street mogul, coming out on top.

Last year a Coldwell Banker ranking of the nation’s most expensive communities put Newport Beach on top and had L.A. city’s own Pacific Palisades in the No. 2 position. Rolling Hills’ neighbor, Rancho Palos Verdes, also made that list at No. 4.

So there.

Neighborhoods Where $10 Million Homes Are The Norm


Housing faces a tenuous recovery thanks to a looming fiscal cliff and lurking shadow inventory but that hasn’t stopped the world’s rich and famous from plunking down millions on mansions in America’s most coveted neighborhoods.

A new report from Coldwell Banker Previews International highlights a handful of ZIP codes across the U.S. where the $10 million-plus market has been ablaze with buyer-seller activity. The luxury real estate firm tracked listings and completed sales from June 2011 through June 2012, in every U.S. market that Coldwell Banker Previews International has a presence, using data from both in-house agents and local Multiple Listing services.

Starting with California. The Beverly Hills 90210 ZIP code touted 56 listings asking $10 million or more, as of June. The pricey postal code touts several of America’s most expensive homes for sale, including the $95 million Beverly House and celebrity developer Mohamed Hadid’s $58 million Crescent Palace.

But any seller can set a stratospheric listing price. The real surprise comes from the number of completed sales in Beverly Hills: 21 sales priced $10 million or higher transpired in 90210 in the 12 months ending in June. Among them, the Wehba Mansion on Sunset Boulevard that fetched $34.5 million in May and the celebrity compound sold by Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi to Ryan Seacrest for $37 million.

Other Southern California neighborhoods populated with $10 million-plus mansions are Malibu (90265), Bel Air (90077), and Santa Barbara (93108). Santa Barbara racked up 12 sales as of June, taking nearly a third of the 41 homes asking eight figures off the market. Bel Air, a swank Los Angeles neighborhood in the so-called Platinum Triangle, also had 41 homes listed for sale, including the $125 million Fleur de Lys mansion. Ten homes found buyers there. Malibu touts a hefty 66 listings, including the $54 million La Villa Contenta and the $43 million Rocky Oaks Estate, though sales have been slower to materialize.

Aspen, Colo. has also enjoyed a renewed uptick in wealthy buyer activity. The 81611 ZIP code boasted 42 listings at or above $10 million as of June. Nine found buyers, including hedge fund billionaire John Paulson. He purchased Hala Ranch from a Saudi Prince for $49 million in June.

Perhaps the most surprising locale to land on the Coldwell Banker list, though, is Florida’s Miami Beach. The 33139 ZIP code alone had seven sales priced above $10 million as of June — and activity has surged since then. Coldwell Banker’s Miami-based power broker team The Jills count a staggering 25 sales of $10 million or more from Fisher Island to Golden Beach from June 2011 through the first week of September 2012, plus several sales at the St. Regis in Bal Harbour and six in Coral Gables to the south. The duo recently closed on a $47 million mansion on Indian Creek Island in Miami’s most expensive sale ever and hold the listing for the $125 million Versace Mansion.

So why are wealthy buyers shelling out tens of millions on property now? “I think there has been an influx of foreign buyers and they want to put their money in hard assets in our country,” says Jill Eber of The Jills, adding that wealthy domestic buyers have been house hunting as well. Betty Graham, president of Coldwell Banker Previews International, seconds this sentiment in a statement: “The luxury real estate market is becoming more global and interconnected than ever before. In the U.S., we are seeing an influx of international buyers from across the world, including Asia, Russia and Brazil, especially in coastal markets in the Los Angeles and Miami areas.”

Other neighborhoods wooing moneyed buyers to closing tables lie in New York City’s Manhattan borough. The Upper West Side’s 10023 ZIP code welcomed 24 sales, most notably in billionaire-centric 15 Central Park West, and the Upper East Side’s 10021 ZIP code had 59 super luxury listings as of June, including the $90 million Woolworth Mansion that recently de-listed and returned to market as a $150,000-per-month rental.

Morgan Brennan – Forbes.com