While coronavirus woes have financially slammed nearly every industry, real estate has been among the hardest-hit of all. Since the shelter-in-place restrictions took effect in March, property sales in major cities like Los Angeles have mostly ground to a screeching halt that’s only now morphed back into a timid crawl. And the ultra-high-end sector — homes priced above $10 million — has been particularly impacted, with jumbo mortgages all but extinct and buyers reluctant to cut large checks in a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty.
Still, everyone needs housing and there remain a small cadre of qualified billionaire buyers out hunting for new homes. But those folks are keenly aware they hold the deal’s proverbial upper hand, and so they’ve begun tossing around lowball offers, demanding deep discounts on some of L.A.’s most lavish estates.
Last month, Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick paid $43.3 million in cash for his new Bel Air mansion, a whopping 42% discount off the original $75 million list price. And beauty mogul Kylie Jenner recently tossed down $36.5 million for her Holmby Hills compound, a 34% reduction from its initial $55 million ask.
Last week, a brand-new mansion in Beverly Hills sold for $23.5 million, the city’s biggest residential transaction since the arrival of COVID-19. But that’s still 36% less than what the seller originally wanted in early 2019, when the house was first offered at $36.5 million. Property records and other online resources confirm the bargain-hunting buyer is an obviously very wealthy but non-famous local businessman who runs a large, L.A.-based manufacturing operation.
Built on speculation by billionaire Vera Guerin, the Beverly Hills-based heiress to a California real estate empire, the stately two-story structure sits just north of Sunset Boulevard and is gated for security. While digital marketing materials do not specify the home’s square footage, the large structure packs in six bedrooms, with eight full bathrooms and two half-baths.
Soft contemporary luxury pervades the interior spaces, and bespoke details are everywhere. Seemingly acres of walnut and marble floors flow throughout, and there are steel doors, windows, and custom light fixtures. Some of the property’s more extravagant amenities include an elevator, subterranean three-car garage, a library with bar area, a very nearly all-marble kitchen and an at-home gym with steam room.
Upstairs, there are separate his/hers master suites — his done up akin to a swank gentleman’s club with a black marble and mahogany-slathered bathroom and closet, hers with white marble and a lighter, more feminine vibe. The half-acre lot also include a 40-foot pool — perfect for lap-lane swimmers — and an adjacent one-bedroom poolhouse. Tall hedges and trees provide privacy imbue the backyard with a park-like atmosphere.
Despite the still-huge $23.5 million sale price, it remains unclear if Guerin reaped any sort of significant profit on her investment. Records reveal she bought the property in 2014 for $10.1 million, razed the existing house, and subsequently spent untold millions more on plans, permits and construction fees for her lavish spec-project. With realtor commissions, closing costs and taxes factored into the equation, the income received from the sale shrinks even further.
In any case, the billionaire and her longtime husband Paul continue to own a 13,600 sq. ft., Mediterranean-inspired mansion elsewhere in Beverly Hills. Custom built in 2008 by the Guerins, that towering house is just a short walk to the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel and is likely worth nearly $30 million — yes, even in today’s market.