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:

“Did you see the Spelling mansion is for sale asking $200 million?”
“Yeah. Where do you want to get lunch?”
Why the disinterest? A look at the stats for luxury listings in LA and NYC show that there’s a slowdown in the $10 million and up market: Properties are staying on market longer, prices are being reduced and the market is getting close to saturation for properties of this ilk.
Ms. Stunt bought the property, known as the Spelling Mansion, in 2011 for $85 million (a steep discount on the asking price of $150 million). It’s reported that she did major renovations on the property (which, with a two lane bowling alley, a gym, a wine tasting room, and “a beauty salon with massage and tanning rooms” makes it sound like it’s only one sushi restaurant shy of qualifying as a strip mall).
Unless the bowling alley has been rehabbed with gold lanes and platinum pins, it’s doubtful that the renovations have increased the value by $110 million. But as we know from sales of similarly priced properties (most recently the Playboy mansion), she could expect a sales price around $95 million, and the work might warrant that.
Keep in mind, just because a property is owned by a celebrity doesn’t mean it’s going to sell quickly, or for the asking price. And this property barely qualifies as a celebrity owned property. Petra Stunt (who seems to have “British Racing Heiress” appended to her name) doesn’t have a big celebrity footprint in this town (she’s married, isn’t known for partying antics, isn’t known to have a sex tape, doesn’t participate in Tweet wars, nor does she have a reality show).
Where just last year the buyer pool for $20 million showcase properties was large, in the current market it feels like all the buyers could fit in the shallow end of the kiddie pool. When it comes to the active buyer pool for ultra-luxury properties ($75 million and above), the buyers could basically run back and forth through the sprinkler on your lawn.
What gives?
There are a few factors effecting this end of the market, including: 
1) a crackdown on mystery holding companies buying these properties (which has more of an impact in NYC than in LA), 
2) difficulty getting the required huge sums of money out of China (affecting individuals and not state-linked companies as evinced by the current development battle in Beverly Hills), 
3) and the sense of anxiety over the coming election.
That this listing is affected by price fatigue gives me pause. Just a few years ago a $20 million property would get people talking. Now, we discuss $200 million listings in passing ― partly because most of us don’t have clients in that range, but more so because we’ve seen too many them. I can’t help how Fitzgerald must have felt when writing about the excesses of the Jazz age, but it doesn’t keep me from doing my job. And so the market beats on…
A Version of this Article Previously Appeared in The Huffington Post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s