"It's called price creep."
That's how Jeff Hyland, co-founder and president of Hilton & Hyland, explains the astounding numbers attached to Southern California's most expensive homes.
"The prices have nothing to do with relative value," he said, "but are based on what others are asking."
Luxury brokers acknowledge that these over-the-top dollar figures are nothing more than attention getters.
Buyers in this rarefied sphere are buying based on emotion, Hyland said, not price.
"In reality, there are only a handful of these properties, and none of the owners need to sell," he said. "They figure it will be three years anyway."
But Hyland believes the estates will sell.
"Even if prices go flat for a year, we will continue to still see record sales," he said, because of what Los Angeles has to offer.
People can drive expensive cars here without needing security, he noted, and the weather outstrips that of the other major U.S. luxury markets of New York and San Francisco.
"If you buy an apartment in New York, you have four walls. What are you going to do? Paint it?" he asked. "Here you can remodel, rebuild. We have that advantage."
Sellers in the $50-million-and-up range already have the money. "If they don't sell this year, they sell the next," Hyland said, "or sell another home."
Here are the most expensive estates currently for sale in Southern California:
1. Palazzo di Amore, $195 million
Setting the record for the most expensive publicly listed home, the Mediterranean-style villa sits behind three sets of gates on a 25-acre expanse in Beverly Hills with a vineyard and expansive views. The owner, real estate entrepreneur Jeff Greene, spent eight years expanding the residence, which counts a 15,000-square-foot entertainment complex, a 50-seat theater and a bowling alley among its amenities. Developed by Mohamed Hadid, with architecture by Bob Ray Offenhauser and design by Alberto Pinto, the villa totals 53,000 square feet of living space with 12 bedrooms and 23 bathrooms. Joyce Rey and Stacy Gottula of Coldwell Banker hold the listing.
2. Owlwood, $150 million
Owlwood, the prized compound once home to actor Tony Curtis and later to singing duo Sonny and Cher, returned near the top of the pecking order in June with a $150-million price tag after falling out of escrow earlier this year. The 10-acre property in the Platinum Triangle — the area encompassing Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Holmby Hills — has a 12,000-square-foot main residence, a tennis court and a pool house and swimming pool. Josh Flagg and Ann Dashiell of Rodeo Realty Beverly Hills are showing Owlwood off-market.
3. The Manor, $150 million
Matching Owlwood in price, the Holmby Hills mansion once known as "Candyland" has been shown privately since this summer. Formerly the estate of Candy and Aaron Spelling, the 56,500-square-foot residence on 4.7 acres was purchased by Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone in 2011 for $85 million. The British-born socialite, whose last name is now Stunt, has extensively updated the mansion, which counts 14 bedrooms and 27 bathrooms.
4. Beverly House, $135 million
Continuing its off-market ebb and flow, Beverly House has reentered the fray at $135 million, furnished. Alternatively, the estate can be had for $114 million, unfurnished and without the separate, adjacent property that completes the compound. The estate, on five acres in Beverly Hills, is the onetime home of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst and actress Marion Davies. Adding to its storied past, the 50,000-square-foot mansion once served as the honeymoon destination for Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy. Jeffrey Hyland of Hilton & Hyland, an affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate, holds the listing.
5. Rancho San Carlos, $125 million
Owned by the same family for the last 90 years, the prized 237-acre equestrian estate in Montecito centers on a Reginald D. Johnson-designed Monterey Colonial residence with hand-painted period murals, barrel-vaulted ceilings and 20 rooms in about 29,000 square feet. Two barns containing 21 stalls and an 11,250-square-foot riding arena are among the equestrian features. Suzanne Perkins and Harry Kolb of Sotheby's International Realty hold the listing.
6. 258 undeveloped acres in Bel Air, $125 million
This large piece of the Platinum Triangle is L.A.'s priciest publicly listed residential offering. The property, encompassing more than 258 undeveloped acres between Linda Flora Drive and Sepulveda Boulevard, is near Moraga Vineyards estate, the 13-acre vineyard Rupert Murdoch purchased in 2013 for $28.8 million. It is listed by Aaron Kirman of John Aaroe Group.
7. Playa del Rey beachfront, $100 million
A sandy, 700-foot stretch of beachfront in Playa del Rey currently lists for sale at $100 million. The undeveloped oceanfront property, listed with Steven Levine of Hilton & Hyland, has been zoned for both commercial and multifamily use.
8. L.A.'s most extreme home, $85 million
This sleek Beverly Hills mega-mansion, with an effusive mix of testosterone-fueled interiors, display space for multimillion-dollar autos and sweeping views of Los Angeles, debuted with a bang in September. The polished creation is the latest from handbag mogul Bruce Makowsky, built in collaboration with designer-architect Roman James and interior designer Joseph Ferrugio. Ben Bacal of Rodeo Realty and Branden Williams and Rayni Romito of Hilton & Hyland/Christie's International Real Estate are the listing agents.
9. Singleton House, $75 million
The Singleton House, one of the last major works of architect Wallace Neff, is being privately shown. Built for Henry Singleton, co-founder of Teledyne, the Southern Colonial-style estate features a 10-bedroom main residence, a tennis court, a pool and a large motor court on more than seven acres in Holmby Hills. Joyce Essex and Danny Harvey of Coldwell Banker hold the listing.
10. Secret estate, $70 million
Although details of the property are scarce, a source confirmed to The Times that a 15-acre estate north of Sunset Boulevard in Bel-Air is being shopped off-market at $70 million. Composed of three adjoining parcels, half of which is flat land, the property includes a main residence of about 14,000 square feet.