First Billion Dollar Listing in LA

The billion dollar listing as it is today.
Photo courtesy of Curbed LA

By VICTORIA VELAZQUEZ | Special to the Palisadian-Post

Just as some wonder if the Los Angeles real estate market can get any hotter, a new listing shatters another world real estate record as the first billion dollar property in the country.

Yes, that is not a typo; That is billion with a B.

So what does one billion dollars get you these days? Well, in the case of “The Mountain,” as it is being called, you get 157 acres of dirt. (For all you “Game of Thrones” fans, we are not talking about that other Mountain. In our case it is beautiful dirt that sits at the very top of the coveted 90210 zip code.)

In the past, The Mountain has passed through an impressive pedigree of owners, including talk show host and producer Merv Griffin, the late shah of Iran’s sister Princess Shams Pahlavi and Herbalife founder Mark Hughes, just to name a few.

Most surprisingly, all the previous owners left the property fairly untouched. As it stands, it is a blank canvas for whichever billionaire finds themselves inspired by the solitary 360 degree views.

The current owner, Secured Capital Property, made it show ready by bringing in utilities, a backup generator to provide electricity for 300,000 square feet of buildings, zoning the 17 individual parcels and even having plans to build a temporary glass structure where they can host prospective owners, allowing them to spend the night and experience what life would be like on the billion dollar behemoth.

A price this exorbitant instantly makes your wonder, who will ever pay that much money for a plot of land?

As an agent, one of the first things we do when selling unique properties is to try to fully understand who the perfect buyer would be. It’s our job to match make. Bring those individuals to the property and bring the property to those individuals.

With a billion dollar price tag, starting your pool of prospects is pretty clear. Of the roughly 2,200 billionaires in the world today, who’s in the market for a new LA compound?

One-of-a-kind properties with astronomical price tags are not new to the LA luxury real estate market. Each one seeming to outdo the last, these properties always beg the question: How do you value a property that is almost impossible to compare to anything else on the market?

First, you are offering something that no one else can have. Which, when you are a billionaire, is very few things.

The sheer exclusivity of knowing that there are only a relative handful of individuals who could even consider purchasing a property is sure to entice one or two. And big, mind-blowing prices (hello, one billion) drum up a ton of attention and, one could argue, only help to add to the properties cache and notoriety—regardless of how realistic or unrealistic a valuation they may be.

Former owner Princess Shams Pahlavi
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Second, it is up to the broker to prove and sometimes help create a market for properties that are charting new territory. Once there is a real and legitimate buyer, these types of property usually end up selling for significantly less than the original asking price.

However, when your asking price started at an insanely high number, even if you sell for only a fraction of that, the sale prices still break records. And interestingly, in these upper echelon price brackets, selling for significantly less than your asking price does not usually reflect negatively on your property. On average most of properties at this level typically sell for 50 percent of their asking.

The Mountain may be the most expensive, but it isn’t alone. Today, there are over 20 homes on the market in LA listed for over $50 million, not including properties circulating as pocket listings.

Just a few months ago, right here in the Palisades, the estate of late entertainment mogul Michael King sold for a little over $33.85 million, having been listed for as much as $42 million at one point.

On more than an acre of grounds, the 2005-built, 15,000-square-foot, Georgian was designed by New York-based firm Ferguson & Shamamian. This sale set a new record for the Palisades as the highest single-family transaction, topping the previous record of $32.5 million set two years ago.

Today, quietly tucked away on Ravoli, lays the most expensive listing on the market in the Palisades. For $26.75 million you can get your architectural dream home, expansive lawns, a bocce ball court and, for horse lovers, direct access to Will Rogers State Historic Park.

So where will this billion dollar listing end up? Only time will tell, but the market, even in these high-reaching corners, is efficient. As we’ve seen time and time again with our buyers, regardless of price point, is that they have a set of criteria that they want and a budget with which they want to achieve that.

Then together, our goal is to find them the best possible property within that budget.


Victoria Velazquez is a sales partner at Amalfi Estates. With her team, she has helped over 700 families buy and sell their homes, selling over $1 billion in properties in Los Angeles. Contact her at 310-614-4240, amalfiestates.com, or at 984 Monument Street #105.