The real estate market has never been hotter, but one type of home that’s still receiving the cold shoulder from buyers are ultra-contemporary mansions. Those sort of blindingly white boxes are everywhere in the hillside neighborhoods of Southern California, particularly above L.A.’s bustling Sunset Strip; when new, they’re all about the glitz and glam — designed for large-scale entertaining, with all the latest high-tech amenities to woo billionaires. But after a few years, the dated homes become less desirable. And when used, these boxes don’t typically fare well when competing against brand-new construction.
A couple months ago, a Sunset Strip house sold for $14 million — exactly $5 million less than the sellers had paid in 2014. Months before that, another nearby house sold for $12.5 million, a $7.3 million loss for the seller. These aren’t anomalies, either — sellers of other neighborhood properties have lost as much as $10.5 million or “got lucky” with only a $3 million penalty.
Built on speculation by a developer, this house first sold in 2018 for $17.5 million to “Peter” Xu Tenghe, the younger son of Chinese billionaire Xu Jiayin, founder of Evergrande — Mainland China’s second-largest real estate development firm. Xu was once ranked by Forbes as China’s third-richest man, before his net worth took a big tumble.
Evergrande’s serious financial problems made global headlines earlier this year, with its liquidity crisis compounded by crippling loads of debt. Unsurprisingly, Xu’s Hollywood Hills mansion quickly popped back up for sale, first asking $18.5 million. But with no takers, the price quickly fell to $17 million, and records reveal the place closed off-market for a bargain-bin $12.5 million — a $5 million loss before realtor fees, taxes, other closing costs and three years of maintenance.
The buyers, local married couple Sam and Nooshin Mahboubian — he’s a doctor, she’s a real estate investor — still got a cool house, even if it’s a few years old. Looming high above the street, the nearly 14,000-square-foot mansion includes three full floors of living space, including a finished basement level. There are two separate garages, one a conventional unit with space for two cars and the other an “auto gallery” with room for six or more. Naturally the house also includes a gym, movie theater, and a subterranean lounge/wet bar with views directly into the glass-walled swimming pool.
One thing the property does not have is a knee-buckling city lights view, a bit of a shame considering this is a very fancy house in prime Hollywood Hills. Still, there’s a big grassy lawn and that pool is nearly Olympic in length, per dated listings. Tall hedges and trees surround the estate’s entire perimeter, providing the ultimate privacy in the heart of L.A.’s bustle.