Real Estate newsletter: Billionaire shatters California price record – Los Angeles Times

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter. Records are meant to be broken, and this week, California’s home sale price record was obliterated once again.

The new crown belongs to billionaire venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who paid $177 million for a sprawling seven-acre compound on the ocean in Malibu. It’s by far the most ever paid for a home in California, beating out Jeff Bezos’ $165-million purchase of the famed Warner estate last year. (It also marks the second record Bezos has ceded this year after Elon Musk eclipsed him to become the world’s richest man — and made sure to troll the Amazon founder along the way).

Andreessen, the investor and software engineer who co-created Mosiac, one of the first web browsers, bought the place from fashion mogul Serge Azria, who’d been quietly shopping it around for $218 million.

Here are some things off the top of my head that Andreessen could’ve bought with $177 million instead: 354,000 Playstation 5 consoles, any of the 700 private islands listed for sale online, or Solandge, a 279-foot-long super yacht complete with a decked-out spa, grand piano, nightclub, swimming pool and eight VIP suites.

In less-expensive-but-still-expensive news, Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank listed her longtime home in Pacific Palisades for sale at $10.5 million. Like many Angelenos, she left the city for rural Colorado during the pandemic and isn’t looking back.

And in even-less-expensive-but-still-kind-of-expensive news, Los Angeles County’s median sale price hit an all-time high of $795,000 in September, so The Times whipped up a list of houses that number buys in six very different areas.

As buyers continue to fight for the few good deals on the market, one company is getting out of the game: Zillow. The real estate giant took a bath on its recent venture into buying and immediately reselling homes, so housing reporter Andrew Khouri took a look at the latest phenomenon of instant buying, or “ibuying.”

On the commercial front, two major projects were announced this week. The first is in El Segundo, where the Chargers agreed to construct their headquarters and training facility, with a completion date of spring 2024. The other is on the famed Universal Studios lot, where NBCUniversal said it would build eight new stages to boost production and keep up with rivals such as Warner Bros.

While catching up on the latest, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.

A new record

Mansions amid trees along a curving stretch of beach.

Marc Andreessen’s purchase of a Malibu estate shattered the previous record, set by Jeff Bezos last year.

(Google Earth)

In a historic deal, billionaire venture capitalist Marc Andreessen has paid $177 million for a sprawling estate in Malibu. It’s the most ever paid for a home in California, shattering the previous record set by Jeff Bezos last year.

Records show the seller was Serge Azria, a fashion mogul behind clothing lines such as Joie and Equipment. He bought the seven-acre property for $41 million from late film producer Jerry Weintraub in 2013 and had been quietly shopping it around for $218 million.

Andreessen is an investor and software engineer who co-founded the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz in 2009 and co-created Mosaic, one of the first web browsers. Forbes pegged Andreesen’s net worth at $1.6 billion at the close of market trading last Friday.

The mammoth deal is the cherry on top of this year’s record-setting real estate market in Southern California. The region’s median sales price has soared to an all-time high, but the ultra-luxury market has been a bit quieter than usual, with no sales north of $100 million.

Oscar winner wants out

A rectangular pool next to a small house and, up some steps, a three-story home.

Hilary Swank’s miniature Pacific Palisades compound includes a Spanish-style villa, detached bungalow and swimming pool set among terraced fruit and vegetable gardens.

(Jeremy Spann)

During the pandemic, swarms of Angelenos left L.A. in favor of isolated communities. Hilary Swank was among them, moving her family to rural Colorado, and now she’s listing her longtime home in Pacific Palisades for $10.5 million.

That’s nearly double the $5.8 million she paid for the property in 2007, records show. The Oscar-winning actress updated the villa in the years since, restoring living spaces with Spanish accents such as tile-lined stairs, wood floors and hand-painted beams.

Covering just over a third of an acre, the miniature compound makes the most of its space with a main home, detached bungalow, garage, double-gated motor court and lush backyard with a swimming pool and heated cabana under terraced fruit and vegetable gardens.

Homes for $795,000

A modest one-story home, amid trees, with steps leading up to two entrances.

11860 Creek Trail in Kagel Canyon.

(Lonnie Mintz)

Los Angeles County’s median home sale price soared to an all-time high of $795,000 in September. Depending on where you’re looking, that sum can buy a starter home or a family estate, a 700-square-foot bungalow in the city or a 3,000-square-foot dwelling in the desert.

Here’s a look at what roughly $795,000 buys in six areas around L.A. County.

Deep dive on ‘ibuying’

A man and woman and two children stand in front of a home decorated for Halloween.

Ruben and Hazel Aguayo with children Ariel, 4, and Noah, 5, recently purchased their home in Duarte through Opendoor.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A new way of selling homes is taking root on laptops and smartphones across the country, writes Andrew Khouri.

Companies including Opendoor, Offerpad and Redfin are using algorithms backed by reams of data to value houses and buy them fast, in cash, and with much of the transaction online. The companies then do minor repairs and resell the homes, earning money on price appreciation and fees they charge.

Operating somewhat as industrial-scale flippers, the so-called ibuyers — instant buyers — have expanded rapidly in recent years, primed for growth by a worldwide flood of capital chasing yield in the U.S. housing market.

People can also buy homes directly from the companies, touring houses at their leisure by downloading a smartphone app to unlock the front door.

Chargers heading to El Segundo

A sleek three-story commercial building with walls of glass next to a football field.

An artist’s rendering of the planned Chargers training facility in El Segundo.

(Los Angeles Chargers)

The Chargers are prepared to take the next step in their move to Los Angeles with an agreement to construct their headquarters and training facility in El Segundo, write Jeff Miller and Roger Vincent.

When relocating from San Diego in 2017, team officials decided to temporarily shift their operation to Costa Mesa while initiating a search for a permanent home.

The new facility will stand near the intersection of El Segundo Boulevard and Nash Street on a 14-acre site that was part of a sprawling campus operated by defense contractor Raytheon Technologies Corp.

The project, set to go before the city’s planning commission later this month, is expected to be completed in spring 2024.

New stages for Universal Studios

An aerial view of a movie lot. City buildings and low mountains are in the background.

An artist’s rendering shows NBCUniversal’s planned expansion at Universal Studios.


With movie and television production surging and soundstages at a premium in Los Angeles County, NBCUniversal will build eight new stages as part of a major development to boost production at its famed Universal Studios lot, Vincent writes.

The company’s announcement Tuesday comes as independent movie lot operators and other old-line studios, including Warner Bros., launch projects that will add new soundstages and other facilities to serve the run-up in production boosted by the rapid growth of streaming services such as Netflix, HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video.

“NBCUniversal is doubling down on its commitment to producing content in Los Angeles,” said Michael Moore, president and general manager of West Coast studio operations.

NBCUniversal representatives didn’t put a price tag on the soundstage project but noted that the company would invest $1 billion across the studio lot in the next five years.

What we’re reading

There’s luxury aplenty in Southern California real estate, but Dubai gives the word a whole new meaning. Forbes took a look at some of the city’s priciest properties, including a penthouse listed for $48.96 million on a man-made island shaped like a palm tree.

Taylor Yard, the 100-acre stretch of land on the L.A. River between Glassell Park and Cypress Park, has multiple projects in the works. Detailed by Eastsider LA as the hyper-local news site checks in on progress, developments include a mile-long greenway that will give neighborhood residents access to the river, as well as $5.5 million in funding for improvements at Rio de Los Angeles State Park.