Patience & Integrity

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Billionaire Pays $32 Million for ‘On Spec’ Beverly Hills Estate

on spec mansionA nine-bedroom, 12,644 square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills that was built “on spec” has gotten a buyer. Forbes is reporting the home, which had been listed for $35 million, will be sold to billionaire financial executive Steve Cohen for approximately $32 million.

Officially there has been no comment on the sale of the estate, but sources have confirmed to Forbes that a deal is in place and Cohen will become the new owner. This would be just the latest “trophy” home for Cohen, who earned a fortune as the founder of SAC Capital Advisors. Among his holdings is a 35,0000 square-foot main house on 18 acres in Greenwich.

The Beverly Hills estate, which is located at 901 Oxford Way, was built by Los Angeles-based developer Gala Asher without a committed buyer, hence the term “on spec” or on speculation. He very nearly got his asking price from Cohen.

The main house contains nine bedrooms and 13 bathrooms. There are also two guest houses on the property, garage space for eight cars and parking for 30 cars total. Additionally, there’s a saltwater pool with waterfall and other features like underground music and color-shifting lights.

Inside the main house, amenities include a home theater and wine room.

Cohen is a bit of controversial figure in the financial world. That’s because in 2013, he pleaded guilty to insider trading with SAC Capital Advisors and agreed to $1.2 billion in fines and penalties. Forbes reports it is the largest inside-trading settlement ever.

Downtown’s Fig Central Complex to Include 3 High-Rise Towers

 

Artist's rendering of the $1 billion Fig Central complex (Image from Los Angeles Times)

Artist’s rendering of the $1 billion Fig Central complex (Image from Los Angeles Times)

Work has begun on the ambitious $1 billion Fig Central complex, which will be located across from Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Chinese developer Oceanwide Real Estate Group has begun demolition of the current buildings on the sprawling site. Eventually, three skyscrapers will rise from the site which will include a hotel and retail and residential space. The plan is for the 4.6-acre lot to be the “shopping section” of the L.A. Live Entertainment complex.

The Times reports Fig Central will be “decidedly upscale.” Plans are for the project to include three towers—two that will rise 40 floors and a third that will reach 49 stories. In total, there will be 450,000 square-feet of retail space, 504 condos and 183 hotel rooms.

Construction is scheduled to take three years.

Adding retail to downtown’s South Park neighborhood is described as being “critically important.” Currently, the area is dominated by restaurants and event venues.

Oceanwide bought the land for Fig Central for $200 million last year, the Times reports.

This project is the latest move into downtown Los Angeles by Chinese developers. The Times reports wealthy Chinese individuals and developers are drawn to the area because land is much cheaper than in their native country.

The architect for Fig Central told the Times the complex will be designed to encourage pedestrian activity. This will include a two-level, open air galleria about mid-block on Figueroa Street. There will also be front-facing shops and public paseos throughout the project.

 

Buying Newly-Constructed Homes Comes with Plenty of Benefits

new constructionThe prospect of buying a newly-built home is appealing to most people. While affordability can become an issue with newly-constructed homes—you can expect to pay a premium for the privilege—it could in the long run be the best financial deal out there.

Why is that? Over at Totalmortgage.com they answer the question. Here are what it calls the four benefits to buying new construction:

  1. You can customize your home before moving in
  2. You get a home warranty
  3. Maintenance costs are lower
  4. Builder incentives

When buying new construction you are able to customize the home to your liking. In contrast, when buying a previously-owned home you might have to pay thousands of dollars to bring it up to your standards and make it your own. That expense is not necessary with a new home.

One of the best benefits of new construction homes is you receive a home warranty for a year. Any problem and the builder will return to fix the issue at no cost. When buying an older home, you will have a home inspection but there’s is no guarantee the inspector will find every issue. Then, weeks or months down the line if you notice something it is your responsibility to pay to have it fixed.

Obviously, new construction homes would expect to have much lower maintenance costs, especially during the early years, simply because of the newness. There will be no need to replace carpeting, the roof, windows and the like for several years.

Finally, with new construction homes you will often receive builder incentives. Builders want to draw interest to their new creations and do so by offering certain concessions, which could include paid closing costs, or even paid association fees if you buy in a condo community.

So as you can see, even though you might have to pay a higher sticker price for a new construction home, there are plenty of benefits that could make it a sound financial decision.

Google Expands Presence in L.A. with Purchase of Huge Lot

google

Google could house up to 6,000 employees at this property in Playa Vista.

Google Inc., which until recently had a mere minor presence in Los Angeles, is greatly expanding its footprint in the region with the purchase of 12 vacant acres in the Playa Vista neighborhood near Marina Del Rey. The Los Angeles Times reports the site could soon be home of up to 6,000 highly-educated Google workers.

The purchase by Google includes 900,000 square-feet of living space and is seen as a big boon to the L.A region. The land is located adjacent to the historic airplane hangar where Howard Hughes built “The Spruce Goose,” which will also be leased by Google as part of the deal In addition to the economic impact of Google coming to town, city officials said the move adds to Playa Vista’s reputation as the tech and innovation capital of Los Angeles.

Playa Vista already has offices for such tech companies as Microsoft, Facebook and ICANN.

City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the Playa Vista area, called the deal “phenomenal news for the Westside and for the Los Angeles community.

“It really makes and brands Playa Vista as the tech and innovation capital of Los Angeles,” Bonin told the Los Angeles Times.

Also what has city officials so excited about Google’s expansion in L.A. is that it will attract a variety of highly-skilled tech workers like engineers. The thought is many will eventually start their own ventures and that will attract more investors and developers to the region.

Google’s current present in Los Angeles is limited to a 100,000 square-foot campus in Venice that houses about 300 workers; and a 41,000 square foot video production facility in Playa Vista for its subsidiary Youtube.

Even more encouraging is more tech companies are likely to be headed to Playa Vista. None other than Internet titan Yahoo is expected to soon lease about 130,000 square-feet of office space in Playa Vista.

All this expansion will have a big impact on real estate in Playa Vista, a neighborhood of about 6,500 residents. There are about 1,200 new homes in the pipeline there and with the influx of new Google workers, additional shops and restaurants are sure to pop up in the area. According to Zillow, the median home value in Playa Vista is currently $688,200.

Downtown Los Angeles Being Transformed by Chinese Investment, Report

downtownThe wave of Chinese investment in downtown Los Angeles has reached unprecedented heights. Billions of dollars have been spent by Chinese firms this year alone on properties that dot the city’s core. And it may only be the start.

L.A. Downtown News recently took an in-depth look at the impact Chinese investors are having on the Los Angeles skyline. There are a variety of reasons downtown L.A. has become so attractive to Chinese investment, but the biggest is they see this as being on the ground-floor of a “cultural and residential renaissance in Central City,” L.A. Downtown News reports.

Here is what one market-watcher had to say about the trend:

“These investors are seeing huge opportunities to make a return,” said Michael Soto, analyst with real estate research firm Transwestern who specialized in Chinese investment in Los Angeles. “But they didn’t come in overnight. These guys have been circling the market for a while waiting to pounce.”

Here are just three of the biggest real estate deals completed by Chinese buyers in downtown L.A. within the past 12 months:

–A group from Shanghai bought the 6.33-acre Metropolis site located north of L.A. Live. The property has been “stagnant” for nearly three decades, but now plans call for a $1 billion multi-phase prject that would add three condominium towers and a 19-story hotel.

–Another investment firm bought the Luxe City Center Hotel, also near L.A. Live, and two adjacent lots for $105 million in August. Plans call for a $250-million revamping of the site.

–Finally, a firm in Beijing bought a 4.6-acre site east of Staples Center that will be the home of the Fig Central mega-project. It will include three towers, ranging from 40 to 49 stories in height, which will house condos, hotel rooms and almost 167,000 square-feet of retail space.

That’s three major project already in the pipeline with expected to be on the way. The L.A. Downtown News article explores several other topics on how and why Chinese are investing in Los Angeles. It’s well worth a read and can be accessed here.

Gains in Home Prices Slowing in the U.S.; Out West? Not So Much

investorsThe U.S. housing numbers for the second quarter of the year are in from the National Association of Realtors and the big takeaway is this: The rate of home-price growth has finally begun to cool nationally, but that’s not necessarily the case on the West Coast.

According to N.A.R, year-over-year home price appreciation fell to a pace not seen since 2012 during the second quarter of the year in the U.S. For the quarter, the median home price nationally was $212,400—a 4.4% increase from the second quarter 2013. As a comparison, during the first quarter of 2014 home prices were up by 8.3% on a year-over-year basis.

N.A.R Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said the moderated increase in home prices should be viewed as a benefit to both buyers and sellers. Prices had been going up by too much and too fast when you consider other economic factors, according to Yun.

“National median home prices began their most recent rise during the first quarter of 2012, but had climbed to unsustainable levels given the current pace of inflation and wage growth,” Yun said. “At this slower but healthier rate, homeowners can continue steadily building equity. Meanwhile, for buyers, increased supply with moderate price gains is giving them better opportunities to choose.”

With that said, the deceleration in home appreciation has yet to really take hold on the West Coast, largely because it remains a region with a big shortage in supply. Yun said that without more new housing options coming online, sharp price increases are likely to continue in the West.

“New construction for ownership housing and rentals is needed to alleviate price and rent pressures and accommodate their growing populations,” Yun said of the West Coast.

Of the 173 markets measured in the study, 71% (122) showed price gains during the second quarter. Forty-seven markets, or 27%, showed price decreases for the quarter.

 

Two Los Angeles Estates Rank as the Most Expensive Homes in America

Owlwood Estates in Los Angeles. It is being quietly shopped for $150 million, according to Forbes.com.

Owlwood Estates in Los Angeles. It is being quietly shopped for $150 million, according to Forbes.com.

The most expensive homes for sale in America are both right here in Los Angeles. Forbes.com reports the 10-acre Owlwood Estate in L.A.’s Platinum Triangle is being quietly shopped for $150 million, while the Spelling Manor has been listed for that same price by Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone Stunt. She bought the estate in 2011 for $85 million.

Owlwood Estate’s listing agents confirmed with Forbes.com that the spread is currently available for purchase, but that it’s not being advertised and “we want to keep it very low-key.” Owlwood Estate has roughly 13,000 square-feet of living space and comes with some Hollywood history. Forbes.com reports it was once owned by 20th Century Fox founder Joseph Schenk and other celebrity residents have included Sonny and Cher and Tony Curtis.

Stunt is looking for a big return on investment with Spelling Manor, roughly $65 million. Forbes.com does report that the estate has undergone a renovation that has added to its value.

Research by Forbes.com found there are more than 30 homes nationwide currently on the market and priced between $60 million and $150 million. Many seller’s are trying to take advantage of what’s been a booming luxury home market. The strength, especially in Los Angeles, has been been partially attributed to the increasing impact of foreign buyers on the market. For example, Carolwood—the 35,000 square-foot estate once owned by Walt Disney—sold for $74 million in June to Chinese buyers.

In Los Angeles, there have been a record 67 sales closed for more than $10 million this year and six homes have fetched more than $40 million. At this point last year there were two homes in L.A. that sold for more than $40 million.

For the complete list of most expensive homes in America, including a photo gallery, click here.

Updated, Mid-Century Home for Sale in Beverly Hills

beverly hills home for sale

9834 Wanda Park Drive Beverly Hills, Ca.

This move-in ready home for sale in Beverly Hills comes with four bedrooms, three baths and 2,043 square-feet of living space. It’s located in a celebrity neighborhood and has a fantastic list price of $1,295,000.

Built in 1961, this Mid-Century residence has been renovated to put it squarely in line with today’s standards of luxury and comfort. There is an attached studio/home office complete with second kitchen, bath and separate entrance. Additionally, this home for sale in Beverly Hills provides tranquil, green views from virtually every window. There is also a functional, flat back yard with terraces that provide plenty of privacy from the array of Oak trees.

This home for sale in Beverly Hills is high quality, and provides a peaceful canyon life on a quiet cul-de-sac just five minutes from Sunset Boulevard. According to the mortgage calculator, the estimated monthly payment is $7,180.22 given 20% down on a 30-year loan with a 5% interest rate.

For more information, click here.

Survey: Luxury Buyers Prefer Hilltop Homes Over the Oceanfront

hillsThe luxury housing market in Los Angeles is well-known for its hilltop mansions and lush ocean-front estates. But what you may not have known is just how much more popular hilltop homes are than ocean-front properties among luxury homebuyers.

A recent survey by the California Association of Realtors found that of homes sold for more than $1 million statewide, 41% of purchases were of homes on a hilltop with views, while oceanfront properties made up just 10% of those same sales.

Of course, you may correctly point out there is a greater supply of hilltop homes than those located right along the coast. That would be correct, but consider that oceanfront homes and homes with ocean views combined still did not approach the number of hilltop homes that sold for more than $1 million in California.

Further breaking down the luxury housing market in California, the survey revealed 16% of home buyers elected to buy near a golf course; 12% preferred mountainous areas; 9% selected resort areas and 4% bought on lakefronts.

There was lots more from the C.A.R survey and some of it was very illuminating on the habits and preferences of luxury homebuyers. For example, high-end shoppers spend a lot less time than “traditional” buyers do when looking for properties. The former spent an average of five weeks looking at properties before buying, while the latter spent an average of 10 weeks. Additionally, luxury buyers looked at an average of 10 properties before buying, while traditional buyers looked at eight properties before pulling the trigger.

There was also a rather large discrepancy in how long these home buyers planned to keep the home.  According to the survey, luxury buyers planned on owning their new home for a median of 10 years, while for traditional buyers it was six years. Also, luxury buyers were more optimistic than traditional buyers by almost a 2-to-1 margin that home prices would increase during the next year.

It’s always interesting to learn the thoughts and opinions of home buyers and this particular survey provides some good insight into just that. For the real estate professionals out there, it always pays to know your customer and this survey goes a long way towards achieving that idea.