The Celebrity Beat:'s Celebrity Real Estate Report

By Serena Norr

What an exciting week in the world of celebrity real estate. The home that Michael Jackson rented before he died was listed on the market for a whopping $28,995,000! With seven bedrooms, a game/media room, a theatre and a pool the new owner will never have to leave the property. Meg Ryan also made an appearance on the Beat for leasing her home for rent. Asking price? A mere $40,000 a month — or what we figure is better spent on two years worth of rent.  Christie Brinkley is also in the news for placing her beachfront home on the market. She is reportedly a huge fan of home improvement projects but cited lack of time to maintain the property as one of the reasons for the listing. We also reported on the foreclosure of Damon Dash’s (co-founder of Roc-A-Feller Records) NYC condos. Dash reportedly fell into the old spending-more-than-what-you-have bit and was unable to pay his $78,504 monthly mortgage payments.

The estate of the late Michael Jackson - Listed for $28,995,000. (Photo Credit: The Real Estalker)

•    Michael Jackson’s Home on the Market for $28,995,000
Yes, those numbers are correct and yes, this is the very home that Michael Jackson rented for $100,000 a month before he passed away in June of 2009 (owner is Hubert Guez, CEO of Ed Hardy).  This Holmby Hills estate (located in Los Angeles) is certainly fit for a King, or maybe just the King of Pop. The list of amenities goes on and on for “French Chateau” such as a wood-paneled den, a library, a modern eat-in kitchen, seven bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, seven garage spaces and 12 fireplaces all of which is situated on 1.26 acres of land. On top of all, the 17,171 square feet home (about $1,689 per square foot) also has a wine cellar, a media room, an art studio, a movie theatre, an indoor bar, a spa and a gym, lush gardens and greenery and an heated outdoor pool. Property listings describe this luxurious and gated abode as a “major achievement in design and proportion, incorporating classic design and impeccable craftsmanship and offering the perfect integration of charm and elegance in a world-class setting.” With that asking price and all that is included we wonder what King or Queen will be the reigning owner of this property.

You too can enjoy Meg Ryan's pool -- Listed for rent at $40,000 a month. (Photo Credit:

•    Meg Ryan Renting Her Home for $40,000 a Month
Back in October, actress Meg Ryan listed this California home for $14.2 million only to be removed from the property listings a mere two months later. According to, Ryan has now listed her Spanish-style Bel Air home for rent at $40,000 a month. A bit steep for a lease but the world of celebrity real estate follows its own set of rules. And for whoever can afford this agreement will have quite the gorgeous beachfront estate to look after. The spacious home includes six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, four fireplaces and of course stunning views of the ocean. There is also hardwood flooring, open archways, wood-beamed ceilings and a modern kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances. There are no reports as to how long the rental agreement would last.

•    Hip Hop Mogul Damon Dash Losses Home to Foreclosure
Damon Dash, Co-Founder of Roc-A-Feller Records recently lost his TriBeCa condo to a foreclosure. Sold for $5.5 million, Dash reportedly stopped paying his $78,504 in mortgage payments on his two condos — one on Moore Street and the other on Laight Street. (We wonder why one would need two condos in the same neighborhood but perhaps that is a part of the whole celebrity real estate conundrum.)  Dash attempted to sell the Moore Street condo right after the real estate market crashed for $7.9 million and again for $5.75 million in 2009 with no interested buyers. Since he was unable to pay  his loan, Dash was sued twice and finally ordered to put his home through the auction process by the New York Supreme Court. A California-based finance firm, Platinum Capital, purchased the home. His second home (on Laight Street in NYC) went unsold and was taken over by Eastern Savings Bank.

Steve Carell's new home -- Purchased for $6 million. (Photo Credit: The Real Estalker)

•    Steve Carell Buys Home for $6 Million
Steve Carell of “The Office” recently purchased 1.27 acre estate for $6 million dollars. Located in Toluca Lake, California, the 5,126-sqaure-foot home includes six bedrooms, five bathrooms, a pool house and a tennis court. Toluca Lake is home to many celebrity neighbors that Carell can soon mingle with. According to the Real Estalker, Eric McCormack, Markie Post, Swoosie Kurtz, Andy Garcia, Demi Lovato, and Ashley Tisdale all live in Toluca Lake.”

Christine Brinkley's home -- Listed for $15.75 million. (Photo Credit:

•    Christie Brinkley Lists North Haven Home for Sale
Model/socialite and real estate investor Christie Brinkley recently listed her New Haven home on the market for $15.75 million. Built in the 19th century, the waterfront home not only has gorgeous views of the beach and the surrounding bay but is surrounded on 4.5 acres of land and 327 feet of beachfront. The 5,500-square-foot columned mansion has five-bedrooms, six bathrooms, four fireplaces and an outdoor pool. Brinkley cited busyness and an inability to maintain the property as the reason for the sale. She has an avid interest in home improvement projects stating “love fixing up old houses, but my life is so busy between with my children, launching several new businesses and my philanthropy, I just don’t have time.”


Homesellers Finally Getting Real About Home Prices

One of the biggest hang-ups in the housing market is sellers’ stubborn refusal to lower the sales price of their home. We’re seeing some flexibility on this — thanks for the rash of bank-owned properties in certain communities — but not nearly enough to get us to a sustainable bottom.

That could be changing, as a couple of recent studies point out, marking a key psychological turning point in the housing crisis.  

istock_000008214703smallThe first was a Boston Fed study that found most people, when it comes to a relocation decision, are disproportionately influenced by the price of their home. If they won’t get as much as they think it’s worth, they’re less likely to move, regardless of the opportunity they’re passing up. Housing prices, more than anything else, influence moving rates.

And now, just a few weeks later, comes a survey from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., that finds that 18.2% of the folks who took a new job in the first quarter did so by relocating.

That’s up from 14.3% in the previous quarter, and 11.4% in the second quarter of 2008.

In fact, it’s the highest job-seeker relocation rate since the second quarter of 2006, when it was also 18.2%. (By contrast, the relocation rate was a whopping 42% in 1986 — it fell under 20% in 2001 and has stayed there since.)

So what’s the significance in this rising relocation rate?

People are finally, finally, willing to acknowledge the inevitable economics and cut the price on their home — and cut it to a price that will compete with foreclosures and appeal to all the folks out there who are looking for a bargain.

The stubborn homeseller mentality — that I won’t sell for less than I paid for it, or not as big a gain I could have had a couple years ago — is loosening, which means house prices will be priced more realistically. This will help the market find the natural bottom.

Lower homes prices + less risk of further price drops = consumers who will be more comfortable buying a home.

And once homes start moving again (as we’re seeing in communities like Phoenix that have been hard-hit by the housing bust), we’ll all have less of that sinking feeling that our homes might be worth less than a Happy Meal.

As that lousy feeling gets replaced by more confidence, we’ll be more confident in making purchases that maybe we didn’t before as we watched our home values drop. That will benefit the economy as a whole.

A friend the other day was lamenting to me that his house was off $10,000 from where he bought it 5 years ago.

My answer, which he probably didn’t appreciate for its succinctness, was “So what?”

He plans on living there for another 20 years. He would have paid out far more in rent than he would have buying and paying for upkeep on his own. He’s ahead now, and he’ll be far ahead in 20 years.

Still, he and millions of others clung to the good old days of 2006, when our home prices were less realistic than the sweet-nothings that mortgage brokers were whispering in their client’s ears in 2001-2005.

As soon as we get beyond the opiate of 2005 housing prices, the sooner our economy will recover.