Real Estate newsletter: Makeup mogul aims for all-time record

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter. As the Olympics wrap up and world records are top of mind, the Southern California real estate market saw a few broken records of its own.

The first record fell in Los Angeles, where a two-bedroom condo traded hands for $13 million. At a mere 2,681 square feet, that comes out to a stunning $4,848 per square foot, by far the priciest sale per square foot in L.A. history. While the unit itself is relatively small, it comes with a laundry list of amenities and a private terrace overlooking the Sunset Strip.

The second went down in Pebble Beach, where an oceanfront estate overlooking the famed golf course sold for $32.69 million, the highest price in Monterey County history. It strips the crown from another home in the same neighborhood that went for $31.25 million in 2014.

All the record breaking made for some ambitious listings, like this lavish mansion in Irvine that popped up for sale at $50 million. It’s owned by Joni Rogers-Kante, founder of the multilevel marketing makeup company SeneGence International, and if she gets her price, she’ll have the most expensive home sale ever in Irvine by a large, large margin.

You’ve seen what can be built on seemingly limitless acreage across Southern California. Now take a look at what can be squeezed into a tiny backyard in Elysian Heights, where a filmmaker commissioned a custom “work-from-home cave” complete with a scalloped parapet and hidden rooftop deck. It covers a humble 480 square feet, but the writing studio saves room for stellar design and playful accents.

Now for a small detour into the less sexy part of real estate: taxes. The Times took a look into a dubious practice where tax agents submit tens of thousands of appeals for property reappraisals and lower taxes, which requires a dozen staffers to investigate, costing taxpayers more than $2.2 million per year.

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

Two WeHo condos make history

A two-bedroom condo at Pendry Residences West Hollywood sold for $13 million, a record $4,848 per square foot.

(Justin Coit)

The pandemic didn’t kill vertical living in L.A. It just delayed it.

At Pendry Residences West Hollywood, a 2,681-square-foot condo overlooking the Sunset Strip just sold for $13 million. That’s the highest price-per-square-foot in L.A. history at $4,848, clobbering the previous record of $3,858, according to the Multiple Listing Service.

A second, slightly larger unit in the same building recently closed for $13.3 million, a price-per-square-foot of just under $4,500. Both sales, which rank among the priciest condo deals in recent years, highlight a growing demand for luxury vertical living, even as the pandemic saw buyers in search of space and privacy trend toward single-family homes.

The condos are two of 40 that will slowly trickle to market over the next year at Pendry Residences West Hollywood, a new hotel-and-condo hybrid opened by Montage Hotels & Resorts. The $500-million complex built on the former site of the House of Blues is one of multiple projects coming to the Sunset Strip as developers look to lure buyers out of their single-family homes and into luxury condos loaded with high-end amenities.

Another record falls in Pebble Beach

The 10,000-square-foot Mediterranean mansion includes a putting green, chipping area and golf simulation room.

The 10,000-square-foot Mediterranean mansion includes a putting green, chipping area and golf simulation room.

(Sotheby’s International Realty)

Monterey County just saw its priciest sale ever as a coastal estate overlooking the Pebble Beach Golf Links traded hands for $32.69 million.

It edges out the previous record set in 2014 when a mansion in the same community sold for $31.25 million, records show.

This one was owned by Michael Fitzpatrick, former president and chief executive of the San Jose-based fiber-optics company E-TEK Dynamics. He listed the mansion in May for $37.5 million and found a buyer just two weeks later, according to the Multiple Listing Service.

Overlooking the ocean and 13th fairway, the Mediterranean mansion keeps the golf theme going with its own putting green, chipping area and golf-simulation room. There’s also a billiards room, bar, wine cellar, gym, movie theater and greenhouse across more than 10,000 square feet.

Cosmetics mogul eyes a record of her own

The 13,000-square-foot mansion includes a billiards room, sauna, massage room, driving range and pool with a scuba system.

The 13,000-square-foot mansion includes an award-winning theater, billiards room, sauna, massage room, driving range and pool with a scuba system.

(Toby Ponnay)

In Irvine, the house that SeneGence built just hit the market for $49.95 million. If it sells for anywhere close, it will be the biggest residential real estate deal in the city’s history and rank as one of the most expensive housing transactions ever in Orange County.

The lavish estate is owned by Joni Rogers-Kante. She’s the founder and chief executive of SeneGence International, a multilevel marketing cosmetics company headquartered a few miles away in Foothill Ranch.

Loaded with virtually every amenity imaginable, the 13,000-square-foot showplace was originally designed for sports talk radio host Jim Rome, who sold it to Rogers-Kante for a then-record $12.5 million in 2017. She’s been upgrading and expanding the estate for the last four years, and it now includes seven bedrooms, 12 bathrooms and over-the-top living spaces with Venetian stonework, ornate millwork and custom ceiling murals.

Working from home in style

The Stiff Peaks writing studio, designed by Chris Skeens and Ben Warwas, features a hidden rooftop deck with views of DTLA.

The Stiff Peaks writing studio, designed by Chris Skeens and Ben Warwas, features a hidden rooftop deck with views of DTLA.

(Taiyo Watanabe)

In the hopes of creating a writing studio that was as unique as her home in Elysian Heights, filmmaker Jane Stephens Rosenthal asked a pair of architects to design something fresh and new for her backyard, writes Lisa Boone.

“I wanted my own space to work,” says Rosenthal, who is working on a coming-of-age feature. “But I also wanted to keep that whimsical vibe.”

The result? The ultimate WFH cave, a product of intense collaboration between artist, designer and architect. After 12 months of work, held up by significant delays due to COVID-19, they’ve dubbed the new writing studio “Stiff Peaks” to acknowledge its most dramatic feature — a scalloped parapet that resembles beaten egg whites and disguises a roof deck where Rosenthal can catch some rays and not be seen by her neighbors on the hill next door.

Property tax appeals are costing taxpayers

Ilo for biz Hot Property story for Feb. 1, 2020.

The county assessor’s office in recent years has faced a deluge of appeals from homeowners for property reappraisals and lower taxes.

(Dave Cutler / For The Times)

The typical Los Angeles County home is worth nearly $817,000, up 22% over the last year, according to the county assessor’s office, writes business columnist David Lazarus.

Yet the county assessor’s office in recent years has faced a deluge of appeals from homeowners for property reappraisals and lower taxes.

And, county Assessor Jeff Prang says, many if not most of these tens of thousands of appeals are being submitted in bulk by just a handful of enterprising tax agents hoping for a cut of any reduction they can pull off for clients.

“I’d call it a scam, but it’s not a scam,” Prang told me. “It’s legal.”

Prang estimates he has to commit about a dozen staffers to processing, investigating and possibly challenging all these appeals, costing taxpayers $2.2 million a year.

What we’re reading

East Hollywood’s Ozawa Boarding House was one of many boarding houses that became home and hiring hall to young Japanese men who came to Los Angeles seeking work in the early part of 20th century. Now the modest property has been nominated as a historic landmark after tenants rights activists and a Hollywood preservation group became worried about is future, EastsiderLA reports.

The cheery Dallas real estate listing proclaims “A property unlike any other!” Uh, yeah. The large brick house, listed for nearly $1 million, looks conventional enough from the outside but appears to lack bedrooms or see-through windows, according to Inman. Listing photos reveal windowless warehouse-like rooms with fluorescent lights and filled with metal shelving.

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