Living large with multimillion dollar real estate
Got $28 million?
Then, Shelly Curtis has got the estate for you.
That would be the mega-estate known as Montagna De La Paloma in Fairbanks Ranch encompassing 12 acres and previously owned by the late Joan Kroc.
"I'm one of the buyers' agents for the Joan Kroc House," Curtis said. "People buy the agent before they buy the house. To get the listing takes a little bit of luck, being at the right place at the right time and your being knowledgeable about the area."
The 92067 ZIP code area in Rancho Santa Fe has a mother lode of expensive properties in its flat-out high-end market. As of this month, 73 properties listed at more than $5 million. Forbes.com ranked 92067 as second most expensive ZIP code real estate market in the nation for 2005 with a median sales price of $2.45 million. This was just behind Sagaponack in Suffolk County, N.Y., at $2.79 million and ahead of Newport Beach at $2.39 million.
Topping the local price list was a modest little place at 16337 Los Arboles in the covenant referred to in its marketing campaign as The Ultimate Estate. The $40 million, nine-acre property even has its own Web site, www.theultimateestate.co
Next in line was an estate at 15651 Puerta del Sol, also in the covenant, listing for $36.5 million. The Joan Kroc estate at 17897 Cira Oriente was being offered at $28 million. Rounding out the Top 8 list, all with asking prices greater than $10 million were an El Montevideo estate at $21.5 million, the former C. Arnholt Smith estate on Calzada del Bosque at $18 million, a $14 million estate on Ladys Secret Drive in Del Rayo Estates, a $13 million property on El Camino del Nort.
With Sterling Properties, Curtis noted, as did other agents representing the most upscale homes and estates around town, the high-end homes practically sell themselves although hard work always is required in the end.
"It's harder for me to sell that $350,000 condo to a first-time home buyer than it is to sell a $10 million property," Curtis said. "The high-end buyers come in knowing more what they want."
CACHET DOESN'T FADE
While the highest end homes are caught up somewhat in a general real estate market slowdown, they also have a certain cache that never seems to fade. The $40 million estate at Los Arboles features a 12,889-square-foot main house with six bedrooms, seven full and three half-baths, a nine-car garage, horse training centers — two — as well as catering kitchen, separate two-story guest suite, caretaker house, orchid greenhouse and 50-foot pool.
Financing can be complicated, but owning "The Ultimate Estate" probably comes along with $204,371 in monthly mortgage payments, according to real estate analysts.
Michael Taylor, Andrea Dougherty and K. Ann Brizolis of Rancho Santa Fe are listing agents working out of their boutique estate division for Prudential California Realty based at Del Rayo Plaza. Prudential Orange County estate agents Nancy and Kevin Casebier also are part of the team necessary to move such a large property sale.
"We've had maybe five serious showings," Taylor said. "One person ended up buying a $19 million property in Rancho Santa Fe nearby. The Web site has had over 14,000 visitors, but it's one of those properties where your buying pool is small."
The Web site even includes an eight-minute video regaling the estate's splendors. The estate sale went through a "quiet phase" with lower-key publicizing, then went a bit more public with advertisements in the publications one expects to check for such listings, including a front cover spread in Dream Homes International showing mega-dream homes only $10 million or more, Taylor said, as well as the Wall Street Journal and Stratus Magazine that goes into upscale private airports only.
"We're trying to let the community know we've got one of the high end properties," Taylor said. "Agents need to know how to deal with high end buyers and sellers who are always very successful in what they do."
BIG PRICES = BIG PROFITS (FOR AGENTS)
Any sale can be lucrative for agents. Typically, listing agents split 3 to 4 percent of the sale price, according to Taylor, while buyer's agents split 2 to 3 percent as well. Sometimes, a top agent might luck into being both listing and buyer's agent, Curtis said.
Those trafficking in the uppermost crust of the upper crust of home and estate sales also know it can take some time sometimes to move a property. For one thing, the serious potential buyers must be separated from the general public just wanting to gawk at the fabulous estates. So, serious buyers they must be identified through rigorous financial checks. Then, estates must be prepped and readied for in-depth visits and tours.
"The Ultimate Estate" is the pride and joy of Rick Nicholas and his family. While reluctant to provide too many personal details in order to maintain family privacy, Nicholas agreed to discuss the sale to help acquaint others with the overall process of high-end real estate transactions from the seller's vantage point.
"This is not an immaculate conception," Nicholas said. "You have to open up a private part of your life and how you live when you do this, but it is part of the process. You, and your lifestyle, become a source of speculation, cocktail party chatter. Your kids hear about it at their school. People are always intrigued."
Nicholas bought the property in 1992. He and his family moved in there in 1999. His family put in considerable time and energy over the last seven years developing the property into a magnificent estate. After selling, the plan is to relocate to another Rancho Santa Fe property and do it all over again.
WAITING FOR THE RIGHT OFFER
"It's not like this is a fire sale," Nicholas said. "One of the really cool things as an owner, you are creating a canvas, your own private resort. The property is unbelievably wonderful, a great place to entertain friends, where you can put up multiple families. It's like another little, very private world."
Nicholas has been developing such properties for the last decade, including one on the ocean at Laguna Beach he sold before moving to Rancho Santa Fe. Recently, he sold a high-end estate in Aspen, Colo. That property went in two days. The $40 million Los Arboles estate will take longer, obviously.
"We knew it was not going to be a quick sale," Nicholas said. "But even though the chatter is the market is soft and on a decline, our analysis was at a certain level of the market you're selling something that is one of a kind and not so subject to the ebb and flow of market pricing…We know the process could take 12 to 24 months."
The Rancho Santa Fe multi-multi-million dollar properties rank behind the top listed property in the county. That's a $50 million, 10,700-square-foot property at 2808 Ocean Front Ave. in Del Mar with 120 feet of beach frontage, health spa, theater, pool, tennis court, greenhouse and two guest houses listed in July.