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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Most Outrageous Home Sales Of 2011 - Forbes

Morgan Brennan

Morgan Brennan, Forbes Staff

I write about real estate markets, property porn and cities.

12/22/2011 @ 7:42PM |3,051 views

The Most Outrageous Home Sales Of 2011

The U.S. housing market is still in the pits, closing another year marked by falling prices, lackluster sales volumes and a steady stream of foreclosures. For the rich and famous, though, it’s been a year of record-breaking purchases.

We sorted through the biggest, splashiest home sales of the year to bring you a recap of the 15 we deem the most outrageous.

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One of the biggest purchases of the year just closed: an $88 million penthouse condo in New York City’s billionaire-coveted 15 Central Park West.  The 6,744-square-foot apartment, which hit the market in November, sold less than six weeks later to Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the 22-year old daughter of Russian billionaire Dmitriy Rybolovlev, reportedly for the full $88 million asking price.

It is the highest individual transaction in Big Apple history and the second-largest transaction in the U.S. for 2011. Jonathan Miller, chief executive of Miller Samuel, a New York City-based real estate appraisal firm, explained to my colleague Luisa Kroll recently, “This sale is an outlier. It works out to be about $13,000 per square foot, the highest on record, for anything, that has ever occurred.”

The pricey pad belonged to former Citigroup chairman Sandy Weill, who purchased it with his wife in 2007 for $43.7 million — less than half of what it just sold for.  The Weills plan to donate the proceeds to charity and Rybolovleva plans to reside there while attending university in the area. Despite Miller’s insistence that the gargantuan 15 CPW sale is an anomaly, there were two other pricey purchases in New York City this year, both for $48 million apiece.

California’s real estate market welcomed several huge sales as well.  The year’s largest individual transaction was the $100 million purchase in March of a 25,500-square foot Silicon Valley mansion called Palo Alto Loire Chateau. Russian venture capital billionaire Yuri Milner reportedly plans to use the nine-figure compound as a secondary residence. The Levi Strauss estate, with its humble 2,050-square foot abode, in nearby Atherton sold to an unknown buyer for a hefty $53 million in September.

The Spelling Manor, a Los Angeles manse formerly known as America’s most expensive home for sale, secured a buyer this summer after nearly three years on the market.  The hulking 56,500-square foot Holmby Hills estate was listed for $150 million, and ultimately sold to yet another 22-year-old billionaire heiress, Petra Ecclestone, the daughter of Formula One founder Bernie Ecclestone, for a more reasonable $85 million. Like Milner, Ecclestone has no plans to reside there full-time, and will split time between the palatial crash pad and one in London.

But while $85 million may seem like an exorbitant sum to throw down on what essentially will be a pied-a-terre, David Kramer, the Hilton & Hyland agent who represented Ecclestone for her L.A. purchase, says the wealthy British family consider it a good investment. “If you say to someone who has billions of dollars, ‘Hey I’ll get you 43% off of a landmark home that in a good market really would be a $100 million or more home, they will say let’s do it.”

Many real estate experts, Kramer and Miller included, chalk up increased interest in the home market among the big-money set to the same thing: perceived bargains. The weak dollar coupled with depreciated home prices (even at the high end) have translated into investment opportunities, particularly for rich foreigners looking to hedge fortunes in brick and mortar assets.

All of the headline-grabbing sales that have transpired this year have led to even more high-profile properties hitting the sale block. A plethora of trophy homes are available like Manhattan’s $90 million Woolworth Mansion, Guess co-founder Armand Marciano’s $63 million Beverly Hills compound, a $60 million private resort in Indian Creek, Fla., and the less expensive but equally noteworthy $12.5 million former Sinatra estate called Farralone. A $175 million ranch in Jackson, Wyo. also came to market this year.

“I am seeing unique, special properties that no one ever would have thought would come on the market,” says Kramer. “These are properties that, like a piece of  art, can and will never be duplicated. They can be considered part of people’s collections.”

The Most Outrageous Home Sales Of 2011 - Forbes
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Posted on: Beverly Hills Real Estate-Beverly Hills Homes For Sale

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