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Monday, Feb 6, 2023

For Ultra-Rich Homebuyers, Sky’s the Limit

Luxury Homes: Once rare $50M deals pick up

In Orange County’s ultra-luxe housing market, $50 million is the new $30 million.

Prior to 2020, the $50 million threshold for a single-property home sale in OC had never been hit before; since then there’s been a trio of such deals, with the title of the area’s priciest home sale changing hands several times.

The latest holder of that designation: biotech hedge fund executive Joseph Edelman and his wife, Susan Lebovitz-Edelman, who last November paid $70 million for an 18,000-square-foot estate in the Laguna Beach enclave of Abalone Point.

Abalone Point is a 12-home community within Irvine Cove, at the northern edge of Laguna Beach along Coast Highway. Several of the homes there are owned by billionaire Sue Gross, the former wife of Pimco co-founder (and another frequent luxe homebuyer) Bill Gross.

The Edelman deal topped the $61 million price paid in 2020 by loanDepot Inc. (NYSE: LDI) founder and Executive Chairman Anthony Hsieh for an 18,800-square-foot compound in Newport Coast’s Crystal Cove community.

Edelman, Hsieh and both Sue and Bill Gross are part of this week’s OC’s Wealthiest listing of the area’s richest full-time and part-time residents.


More in Store?

With the $50 million threshold met several times over the past two years, others aren’t being shy about asking for a figure in that ballpark for their own area homes.

Real estate listing website Zillow reports there are seven homes in OC currently on the market for $45 million or more. All but one, in Irvine’s Shady Canyon, are along the coast (see story, this page).

Luxe brokers note there’s also several big-ticket area homes that could quietly trade in off-market transactions, as was the case of the Edelman family purchase last year.

“Business is on track to be busier this year than last,” Compass’ Rob Giem told the Business Journal. “Last year was a record number of units sold, and while that will drop back down to a more normal level this year, pricing will remain high, as there still isn’t enough supply to meet demand.”

One of Giem’s priciest listings is a 3.7-acre oceanfront parcel in Laguna Beach that holds a 3,243-square-foot home; the asking price is $46.5 million.

“It’s the largest oceanfront property in all of Laguna Beach, but the price is lower because a buyer would have to take the time to build there,” Giem said.

Whether OC’s priciest listings end up selling close to their asking price, or sell at all, remains to be seen, given recent economic uncertainties. I­­­nterest rate hikes aren’t expected to be a big factor given most deals above $8 million are typically all-cash transactions, brokers say.
“I haven’t had anyone get a loan in three years,” Giem said.


Palais Vibes

The priciest active listing in Orange County is 6 Midsummer, a 15,500-square-foot Crystal Cove estate nicknamed the Palais de Cristal. It can be had for a cool $69.8 million.

Michael Amini, founder and chief executive of Pico Rivera-based home-furnishings company Amini Innovation Corp., is the owner of the property, which counts seven bedrooms and 13 bathrooms.

Amini acquired the half-acre parcel in 2007 for a reported $5.1 million and started construction on the home in 2013; it finished work last year. It’s been on the market for about a year.

Some of the more custom home touches include elaborate chandeliers, a glass domed ceiling over the entrance, interior and exterior marble floors, a mosaic pool with handmade tiles and resort-like grounds with sculpture gardens.

The second priciest listing is also within Crystal Cove at 31 High Water. The 15,000-square-foot property counts seven bedrooms and 12 bathrooms, and was built in 2014. It’s offered at $59.8 million.

Rex McKown and Marcy Weinstein of McKown Weinsten & Associates of Compass have the listing for both 6 Midsummer and 31 High Water.


Billionaires Row, in Irvine


Not a beach person? There’s an ultra-luxe home for sale further inland with a driving range, movie theater, custom walk-in wardrobes, a 1,000-plus bottle wine room and a resort-style pool with underwater speakers and a scuba snorkel system among its numerous amenities.

Spanning 13,000 square feet on a nearly 0.9-acre lot on a street referred to as Billionaires Row, 76 Golden Eagle has a price tag rivaling anything along Orange County’s coast, and one never seen before in the exclusive Irvine neighborhood of Shady Canyon: $49.95 million.

It’s currently the third priciest listing in all of Orange County.

What garners such a price tag in Irvine?

Several factors, not the least of which is the size of the land parcel, broker Tim Smith told the Business Journal during a tour of the estate this month.

“If you picked this property up and dropped it in Newport Coast, the listing price would be closer to $100 million,” notes Smith, who heads the Tim Smith Group at Coldwell Banker Realty.


Record Territory

The sellers are SeneGence founder Joni Rogers-Kante and her husband, Ben Kante.

SeneGence, the Foothill Ranch-based marketing company that sells skincare and makeup products, is among OC’s largest privately held companies.

The family decided to sell the home—which has served as the primary residence for the couple and their two children—as they prepare to move to Rogers-Kante’s hometown of Sapulpa, Okla.

The asking price is nearly four times the $12.5 million that they paid for the home in 2017, but the property has since undergone an extensive renovation and expansion, led by Newport Beach-based Tony Valentine Construction.

“If you look at pictures of what the home looked like before, it’s hardly recognizable,” Smith said.

The home has only counted two owners since it was built in 2007, and was first home to sports talk show host Jim Rome. His $12.5 million sale marked a record at the time for Irvine homes; that record has since been beat several times over in Shady Canyon, most recently with the $15 million sale of 11 Needle Grass in July 2020.

A nearly $50 million sale would far surpass that city record and would place the deal as the fourth priciest single-home sale to ever occur in Orange County. The home has been on the market since last July.


Amenity-Filled Estate

The home was designed by architect David Hohmann and built by Fari International.

An elevator services all three floors, with “museum-quality” interiors throughout that include furnishings by Ebanista, Venetian Stoneworks slabs, Edgar Berebi hardware and custom ceiling murals by Andrew Tedesco Studio.

Each of the seven bedrooms has a bathroom and some sort of connection to the outdoor areas, from balconies to access to patios or spas. The home includes nine full bathrooms and three half-baths in total.

The top level of the home is mostly comprised of a massive primary suite with a fireplace, spa-bath, two “boutique-quality” closets and an expanded deck that overlooks Shady Canyon and, on a clear day, Los Angeles.

The rooms include four main bedrooms; several guest rooms; a gym with wet and dry saunas; a billiards and poker room with a wet bar and wine room; a large home cinema; and an air-conditioned six-car garage with a subterranean tunnel that connects to one of two lower-level suites.

In addition to the 10-foot-deep pool, outdoor offerings include a cold plunge, auto-tee driving range, cabana bar, fire pits and a commercial pizza oven.

A catering kitchen sits tucked behind the grand kitchen, which touts quartzite slab countertops and a custom mosaic tile backsplash.


Billionaire Hub

Shady Canyon is the only community in Irvine that offers an inventory of custom homes for sale, with land lots that are far larger than average and with more space in between homes than other communities in the county.

Members on this week’s OC’s Wealthiest list reported to have homes in the community include Kingston Technologies’ David Sun, and local hedge fund exec C. Frederick Taylor.

The area’s golf course and country club are well known throughout the county, though prospective members need two referrals from existing members to join. Membership rates can cost up to $150,000.­­­

–Katie Murar

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