Sunday, May 6, 2007


At the other end of Westside listings ... how 350 N. Carolwood Dr. in Holmby Hills, only $125,000,000 for "Fleur De Lys - The Finest Estate in America. Available by appointment to pre-qualified clients only. The property has 12 bedrooms, 15 baths, guest house on a 5.01 acres." Note the spacious parking lot motor court behind the house. (Image from MS Live, not the little MLS photo.)


Craig said...

So thats about $1.5 million per year in property taxes? wow.

Went to some open houses today and here is what I thought was interesting. Driving up 20th north of Montana there was an open house canceled for a spanish house and there was a sign saying that it was in escrow...i believe it was originally offered at $2.8 or so. Also, there was a one story/tear down further up almost to San Vicente (may have been on 20th but can't remember) which had a sold sign on it. So it looks like things that are priced decently north of Montana are still selling.

Then we went up to the Palisades in a neighborhood I had never been to before (south of Sunset around the village area). Beautiful views of the mountains as well as views off the cliff of the ocean just a few blocks down. We went into one remodeled spanish which was asking $3.2 (only about 2600 square feet) but it did have a nice view. A few blocks away, there was a newly built (could still smell the paint) spec house going for $2.9 which was something like 4000+ square feet. Overall, there was considerable traffic at both houses. It was amazing to see all of the development on each block. They are going nuts in there with all the remodeling and new building. Reminds me a lot of north of Montana...its only a matter of time before every single house on every block becomes a 2 story monster.

Last, we went down to venice area (just south of penmar golf course). There was a single family house asking $1.1 million which had previously been bought a year ago for $850K. There were some minor upgrades (kitchen, electric, and an added bathroom). So it looks like the flipper put maybe $100K into the place and is hoping to make a "small" profit. I will be putting this one on my watch list because the neighborhood was crappy (other areas close to this one are nicer but this neighborhood wasn't nice and was just up the block from a bunch of low income/subsidized housing). When we were in there, I overheard the realtor talking to a young couple and saying how it would be such a great investment to hold onto for 3-5 years, etc and how she works with some great mortgage brokers who can help them out. I almost wanted to say something...the address is 728 Appleby in case anyone wants to know. Starter homes in venice which aren't very nice shouldn't be over $1 million...Los Angeles is so can buy a beautiful 2 story house with 4 bedrooms and LAND in most other states for half of what it costs to buy a teardown in a marginal venice neighborhood. outrageous.

speedingpullet said...

I saw the Carolwood monster on ZipRealty the other day - Zip brought up a popup window informing me that the price was 'outside the price range'!
Guess $125 million is too rich, even for LA...

Craig said...

UPDATE: I posted this on the end of the thread a couple of posts ago but I wanted to bring it up again. Turns out that the condo on 26th was indeed $0 down and possibly fraudulent. We should keep an eye on this and see if it sells at auction.

Yet another UPDATE on 1143 26th #C:

DWR said that the previous buyer had almost $140K down...well I found out that this is incorrect and that the buyer had $0 down...

1st mortgage: $544,800 with Ownit at 7.37%

2nd mortgage: $136,200 with Ownit (as a "stand alone second")

So what have we learned here? This could still very well be a fraudulent purchase because there is absolutely no skin in the game. Also it will be interesting to see if this sells at the auction that anon mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Went to a couple Palisades open houses this weekend as well. Sure didn't look like any of the people there were buyers, unless old neighbors are buyers. There is becoming a glut of houses in the 2.2-3.2 range. All spec, many seemingly done by realtors. So a year ago, most of the 1.2ish sales were to them, and now this is the back end of the speculation... er, investment? When these don't sell without big reductions it'll be interesting to see if anyone is left to buy the 1.2 - 1.5 mil. And so the slide begins?

THG said...

Craig -
I left you a message under the May 5 blog entry here.

Anonymous said...

For the amount of money he's asking, you'd think the owner would keep the lawn in better condition.

dwr said...

"DWR said that the previous buyer had almost $140K down...well I found out that this is incorrect and that the buyer had $0 down..."

where did you get this information?

dwr said...

I just redid the search and you are correct. I'm not sure why that second loan didn't appear the first time I did the search, but it's there now.

Craig said...


It looks like Nexis will be my tool of choice going forward. Still playing with the search features but so far I am getting good results. To find the second mortgage I had to search using the borrowers name.

Thanks for turning me onto this tool, I am now armed and dangerous.

Anon, good observations about the Palisades...the amount of spec building was outrageous. If they can't get those high prices then the demand for all the tear downs will fall off a cliff.

Question to all: With building costs so expensive here on the westside, will remodeling/building new become cheaper in the next several years as property values fall? Also, why are building costs so high around here? You can buy a custom built home in other areas for so much less than it costs to build around here...what gives? are the contractors making a killing?

Craig said...


just saw your comments/questions on previous post. i will respond a bit later this afternoon when i get a moment.

Anonymous said...

The 26th house is pretty clearly fraud if you lookup Valentine AZ (where the "buyer" is from) on Google maps. I don't really see someone living there spending a boatload on a Santa Monica condo.

amb said...

I have access to lexis -nexis - but where is the mortgage data?

Craig said...

Anon, it appears to me that the previous buyer was using the Arizona address...the most recent buyer (who defaulted) has the condo address listed as his address. So I don't think we can be certain that there is fraud here but judging that the most recent purchase was pretty inflated and occured in the middle of 2006, we probably have a first payment (or early payment) default which smells pretty fishy.

With regards to Lexis/Nexis, it is my understanding that "Lexis" is used more for law applications and that "Nexis" is used more for all purpose info. I am using "Nexis" and under the search tab have selected "combined deed transfers, tax assesor records..." as the sources. I hope this makes some sense as I am new to this and still trying to figure it out.

THG, the amount of money you need to be making to actually "afford" a $1.5 million house is huge. You are correct to look at taxes as a big issue. Property taxes will be between 1-1.25% I believe. Prop 13 did help in that your tax base won't skyrocket when your property value does, but if you are a new buyer or are moving up from one house to another, then you will have a big bill coming. Also, the whole $250K-$500K (depending on whether you are married) tax free gain thing is a total joke. The impact of this tax break is so huge because it encourages folks to move every few years and further causes churning in the market. I also feel that it sort of implies a massive gain after several years because everyone has been taking advantage of it and then plowing back all that "free" money back into local properties.

Interest only (and pay option ARM) are not really even choices anymore...they are STANDARDS (for folks who don't already have millions in the bank). Again, this completely distorrs the market becasue values used to be dictated by incomes (and thus restricted in their heights), but now with the flood gates open, values have adjusted to this "new reality" of irresponsible borrowing and excess leverage. Even if you had 20% down and an interest only mortgage, you need to be making $250K+ to truely "afford" a $1.5 million tear down...then add in insurance, gardeners, maintenence, trash, electric, etc and your monthly nut gets even higher.

To be fair, there are lawers, doctors, celebs, businessmen, etc who make huge sums of money every year and can afford these types of payments and expenses...its not as if every $3 million property north of Montana is $0 down neg-am flipper material. However, from looking at our little example on 26th street, it is pretty obvious that there will be many more defaults coming because so many condo (and home) buyers were able to get such big loans that they couldn't handle and were just counting on that magical price inflation after they bought. When this part of the market falls apart, it sends ripples through the high end stuff as well. Change begins at the margins.

Rents for a $1.5 million Santa Monica home would probably be around $5-6K/month from what I have seen and heard.

A lot of these condos are basically just apartments that you can more, no less. So looking at rents will be important. Once it gets close to break even after taking into account the deduction on interest payments, then it will be time to even CONSIDER buying...

As for houses, if we see all of the newly built spec houses and remodels failing to get bids and languishing on the market, then we should see declines in the high end stuff. If all the speculation slows down then the demand for the lower end houses slows because you can't just go in and tear it down and make $500K easy profit on a spec home anymore.

Santa Monica is always going to be outrageously expensive, but I really think we will see things come in over the next 3 years or so. I'm watching condos right now because they will be the first to show significant stress and will lead the way for single family homes.

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