Welcome back to the real estate newsletter, where the spring market sees properties prized by celebrities dead and alive.
Let’s start with the living. The first is Michael Eisner, the former chief executive of the Walt Disney Company who is shopping around his Malibu estate for $225 million. He’s been compiling the complex for more than two decades, and if he gets his prize (or something close to it), it’ll be the most expensive home sale in California history.
What makes a house like this so valuable? Two things: size and secrecy. The five-acre expanse includes nine structures, which is virtually unmatched even in a community as affluent as Malibu. It also sits above Watkins Cove, an ultra-exclusive beach that is extremely 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 interacting with the public.
The other notable seller is Madonna, who is asking $26 million for a Hidden Hills mansion she bought from The Weeknd last year for $19.3 million. It’s an ambitious request, especially since she hasn’t done much work on the property besides converting the barn into a gym and Pilates studio.
Our aforementioned posthumous listing comes from legendary comedian Betty White, whose longtime Brentwood home has gone up for sale at $10.575 million.
It is White’s second property to hit the market since his death in December at age 99. In March, his beach house in Carmel-by-the-Sea sold for $10.775 million.
We also checked Orange County, where the market just hit a staggering baseline that Los Angeles County never did. In March, the median sale price of a home there reached $1 million, making it the first county in Southern California to reach that high figure. Like most housing news in recent years, it’s great for sellers and brutal for buyers.
Spring is the time of metamorphosis. Dormant plants bear brand new flowers, leaves turn back into barren trees, and a former bastion of journalism transforms into a military technology operation. At least that’s what’s happening in Orange County, where the former LA Times complex is now occupied by a defense contractor who designs drones. It’s a stark contrast, and we paused to reflect on the jarring change.
While keeping up to date with the latest news, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.
The longtime Disney chief is chasing a record
Michael Eisner is chasing a record on the Malibu Cliffs, listing his prized beachfront resort for $225 million. If he gets his prize, it will be the most expensive home sale in California history.
Eisner, a media mogul who served as chief executive of the Walt Disney Co. from 1984 to 2005, has been assembling the resort for more than two decades. Records show he bought the first piece in the 1990s and added at least four adjoining plots in the years that followed.
The $225 million price tag is nearly $50 million higher than the current California sales record, which was set last year when billionaire Marc Andreessen lost $177 million on his own resort, also at Malibu. The US record belongs to hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, who paid $238 million for a New York penthouse in 2019.
Madonna watches a quick turnaround
The Queen of Pop tries her hand at knocking over a house. A year after buying The Weeknd’s Hidden Hills mansion for $19.3 million, Madonna is buying it for $26 million.
Interior photos are sparse, 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 turned into a gym and Pilates studio.
Sprawling over three acres, the amenity-packed resort offers plenty to do both indoors and out. The centerpiece of the estate is a 12,500 square foot storefront built in 2017; it is accessed by a custom bridge and a winding driveway lined with olive trees.
Betty White’s posthumous sales spree
Weeks after Betty White’s beach house went up for sale, the late actor’s other home in Brentwood hit the market for $10.575 million.
If the sale in Brentwood is like selling his house in Carmel-by-the-Sea, it will be a huge 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 rating agency, it is expected to sell for $10.775 million, or $2.825 million more than the asking price.
White, who died in December at 99, bought the Brentwood home with her husband, game show host Allen Ludden, in the 1960s. Built a decade earlier, the colonial-style place is tucked behind gates and features stone splashes and yellow accents on the exterior.
The 3,000 square foot floor plan features five bedrooms and six bathrooms, but the property itself is marketed as a teardown. Listing photos show exterior only and potential buyers will not be able to enter inside.
Orange County Passes Million Dollar Milestone
The median home price in Orange County hit $1 million last month, becoming the first Southern California county to hit that price and underscoring just how expensive the area has become, writes Andrew Khouri.
The threshold was crossed when the Orange County median selling price for new and existing homes, condos and townhouses rose from $985,000 in February to $1,020,000 in March, according to data released this week. by researcher DQNews. It constitutes a jump of 22% in the median price compared to the previous year.
Million-dollar homes have spread rapidly across Southern California during the pandemic, becoming commonplace in communities once considered relatively affordable, like 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 a year earlier.
Former journalism building now used for drones
When the Los Angeles Times opened its offices in Orange County in 1968, the event was so low-key that it generated no coverage in the pages of the newspaper itself. The office and print shop, however, materialized in the classifieds, where The Times advertised part-time jobs – “Call now!” — whose responsibilities have been mysteriously left undescribed, writes Carolina A. Miranda.
Today, the former headquarters of The Times in Orange County has been given new life thanks to Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, who pulled out the scalpels and began cutting through the ceiling and walls to produce skylights and Windows. A dramatic open-air atrium at the heart of the complex — capped with a remnant of old Los Angeles Times signage — marks the site where the breezeway once stood.
Along with a new look and name, the complex now known as Presse also has a new tenant: Anduril, a defense contractor who designs drones. It’s a symbolic reversal of architectural purpose: a building once inhabited by a newsroom, an institution meant to put an uncomfortable spotlight on the workings of power, will now be used for the purpose of manufacturing secret military technology.
What we read
Will house prices ever go down? An interactive fortune chart seeks to answer that question, placing housing markets across the country into five different categories based on the likelihood of house prices falling next year. Unfortunately, all of Southern California ranks in the “low probability” category, except for the city of El Centro in the Imperial Valley, which ranks in the medium category.
Buying a beach house and renting it out can be lucrative, but some areas are more profitable than others. The New York Times detailed the best beach towns for homeowners and Gulf Shores, Alabama took the top spot. No California community made the top 10, which includes three cities from Florida and two from North Carolina.