As all of my readers know, housing prices are soaring. To Californians, Utah properties are still cheap; to Utahns, prices are so steep many residents think the only way of purchasing a home is buying a winning lottery ticket in Franklin, Idaho.
I am certainly not a real estate expert, but I do know Utah has nothing to boast about when it comes to housing for the super-rich. Recently, for instance, the Wall Street Journal featured four homes listed in the Los Angeles market. I immediately felt like a pauper, just a notch above an orphan in a Charles Dickens novel.
The most expensive of the four is currently owned by a Hollywood special effects guru. It has 20 bedrooms; I assume a buyer could turn it into a boutique hotel since it also has five elevators and its own personal VIP nightclub.
The nightclub is of special note since the home also contains a “manly” collection of vintage Playboy magazine covers. (I’m sure the guy only bought the magazine for the articles….and then again, maybe not because the $500 million asking price includes a black leather bed.) The house also contains a gigantic jellyfish aquarium. The jellyfish are lethal – and so is the mortgage on the house.
In fact, compared to the $500 million home, the next property is a sheer bargain. At $188 million, the house contains a 40-seat theater, a photograph of a pretty blond atop a $500,000 Rolls Royce and carrying a chainsaw, and five individual bars. (Five bars! If this home were located in Utah, the state would have to build another liquor store simply to supply the guy!)
The owner of the home made all of his money selling cheap leather handbags on a cable shopping network. His appreciation of leather has increased since then – his elevator is lined with crocodile skin. The house also contains a helicopter. Don’t worry – that city has a law against landing a helicopter in a residential zone. The owner figures anyone who can afford a $188 million home can also pay the $10,000 fine.
Another housing option is a smaller nine-bedroom home being sold by a plastic surgeon. He only wants $180 million, but I’m not sure the property’s 2,000 bottle wine room’s liquid inventory is included in the price. The owner says his house has “soul” with an herb garden and a shrine to the Hindu Gods Ganesh and Lakshi. Noting the smaller size of the home, however, the real estate agent calls the 34,000 square foot home a mere “Prius” when compared to other mansions.
And then there’s the home for cheapskates. The owner, a director of television commercials, is only asking $85 million for this starter home. It features a $1.5 million teak staircase (sorry, no elevators), a cigar room, a wine room, and a 120-foot long great room large enough to entertain the entire town of Ephraim. His house is tiny, he told reporters; he didn’t need one room just to house his socks.
If any of the homes don’t sell quickly, I am sure the owner could convert them into a nice rental. Then again, one of the four owners already turned down an offer from a Saudi prince to rent the joint for $2 million per month.
You may envy the owners; you can also envy the real estate salesperson who gets a tidy commission on the sale. Even the housekeeper probably gets a handsome Christmas bonus.
But deep down I value the simplicity of my three-bedroom condo. I don’t have to fill the empty slots of a 2,000-bottle wine room, water the herb garden, or worry that a poisonous jellyfish will get loose. I am comfortable calling my house a home, not a property, and the biggest asset is my wife, not the real estate.