A Saferoom By Any Other Name

Kim Kardashian’s recent robbery in Paris at gunpoint (in which she was relieved of $9 million of jewelry) brought to mind an article in The Hollywood Reporter about safe rooms being the newest trend in luxury real estate. Knowing that no harm came to Ms. Kardashian, I found this a bit amusing as: a) I personally never travel with more than $5 million in jewelry ($9 million is just ostentatious), and b) the “Safe” or “Panic” room is the latest name for a feature that’s been around for at least one century (if not many more).

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The Mystery of the Vanishing (Good) Restaurants

38034776 - elegant restaurant interiorI’m not 100% behind the plastic bag ban (see why in this Wired.com article), but I do have to admit not having to choose between “paper or plastic” has freed up enough brain cells so I can tackle the important question of “Where should I eat?”

This is a question (more of a conundrum) that I deal with a few times a week as I try to schedule meals with friends, clients and colleagues. On the days I work out of my Brentwood office, dinner I prefer to stay west of the 405 (this is a function of traffic and not an indictment of areas further east), but this has become a harder and harder task as many of my usual haunts have gone out of business. Continue reading

And Yet Another $200 Million Listing…

As you’ve probably heard, Petra Stunt has put her mansion on the market for $195 million.
There are a few things that caught my attention about this listing, and not one of them was the price ― and this lack of surprise is the main thing that caught my attention.
First off, this is just one of the several mega-million dollar listings that have come on the market of late. And where a few years ago a price tag like this would have made heads spin like Linda Blair’s in the “The Exorcist,” among my clients and colleagues this listing is eliciting yawns. Sure, we’ve spoken about it, but usually just in passing:

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Rolling Along In My Own Lane

19611292_sWhat’s all this stuff I keep reading about bowling alleys?

I’m talking about all the bowling alleys I see included as amenities in a bunch of high-end listings of late. For example, Petra Stunt’s $195 million dollar estate has a bowling alley. (It also has a beauty salon, a gym, a wine tasting room, and massage and tanning rooms. My question is: are all of these rooms  within walking distance to each other, or does one  drive to them in the Formula One cars I like to imagine the racing heiress keeps on hand?)

Many other high-end listings, as well as historic buildings, list bowling alleys as amenities. This begs the question: Who the heck is doing all of this bowling? Continue reading

A Santa Monica Hotel And How LA Handles (Or Doesn’t Handle) Change

museum-of-historyAn article in the NY Times about the vociferous opposition to Disney’s rejiggering of a theme park ride got me thinking about mental health — mainly, my own.

Los Angeles is a town of contradictions: The same people who insist on eating only natural organic foods also happily inject non-organic silicone into their laughs lines (to the point that they look quite unnatural). This behavior largely goes without comment, which is really not surprising when you consider that as “the city of dreams,” people come to LA to become someone else: Cary Grant arrived in town as Archibald Leach; Michale Caine was Maurice Micklewhite; and Angelyne was… Well, let’s just move on. Continue reading

Death and Taxes (well, at least death)

Money-PostThough the original title of this piece was “Real Estate Trumps Taxes,” I want to make it very clear that this is an article about real estate investing.

True, it is inspired by reporting that Donald Trump may not have paid taxes for the past eighteen years due to close to a billion dollars of real estate losses. That said, this is about how even small investors can avoid or minimize taxes and is not meant in any way as a political piece to suggest that Trump may be slightly disingenuous when it comes to his comments on people who don’t pay any taxes…

No, this is an article specifically about the way real estate is treated by tax regulations which allow well advised investors to put money in the bank by offsetting gains with losses (some of which only exist on paper). And I want to share with you some real estate investment secrets that don’t require you to attend Krull University. Continue reading

Giant Developers Do Battle In Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills

Coming to a Real Estate Deal Near You

There was a movie out a few years ago that had giant robots battling each other for… well, I have no idea because I didn’t see the movie. 

That said, the imagery of giant robots came to mind when I read this bloomberg.com piece about one giant developer (Alegem) taking on an even “gianter” developer (Wanda Group) over the rights to build huge residential towers in Beverly Hills. Though no buildings have been knocked down in in this fierce struggle, millions of lobbying and political advertising dollars have been spent on the next battlefield — a ballot measure that can make or break either project, which will be voted on by the residents of Beverly Hills. Continue reading