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Real Estate newsletter: A $100-million ranch moseys to market

An aerial view of rolling hills and grass.
The sprawling Black Mountain Ranch combines 63 parcels and comes with a 13,000-square-foot house and four guesthouses.
(Jeff Elson)

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter. We’ve seen plenty of mega-mansions fetch astronomical prices over the years, but the mid-May market showed us just how valuable a plot of land could be.

Tobey Maguire kicked off the week by hauling in $10.75 million for an empty acre in Brentwood. No house. No grass. Just a patch of dirt in one of the most affluent communities in Los Angeles. It was the second-priciest land sale so far this year.

Shortly after, a 3,600-acre spread up in Ojai surfaced for sale with a much bigger price tag: $100 million. Known as Black Mountain Ranch, the working cattle and horse ranch combines 63 parcels and offers a bit more than Maguire’s property, with a mansion, four guesthouses, a lake, tennis court and shooting range.

A few celebrities also found places to settle down for the summer. “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris paid $7.25 million for a home on the water in Toluca Lake, and media heir Lachlan Murdoch shelled out $29.8 million for a boat shed — yes, a boat shed — in the Australian suburb of Point Piper.

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For all the renters out there, good news came from Sacramento this week in the form of Gavin Newsom’s latest COVID-19 recovery plan. In addition to a second round of $600 stimulus checks, the proposal calls for $5 billion in rental assistance, along with up to $2 billion in direct payments to pay off utility bills.

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

Ventura County’s biggest and priciest listing

The sprawling estate combines 63 parcels and comes with a 13,000-square-foot house.
(Jeff Elson)

A mountain of a listing just hit the market in Ojai, where a 3,600-acre estate known as Black Mountain Ranch is up for grabs at $100 million.

It’s Ventura County’s largest and priciest property currently on the market by a mile, and one of the largest in all of Southern California. The seller is businessman Richard Gilleland, who formed the prize property by combining 63 parcels.

The ranch combines rolling hills, grassy pastures and 12 separate structures, including a main house that spans more than 13,000 square feet. Built in 2004, the lodge-like space combines wood, stone and glass with rustic rooms that take in views of the surrounding mountains.

A handful of other homes dot the scenic grounds, including a 2,000-square-foot caretaker cottage with a porch and a 1,800-square-foot guesthouse. A 6,200-square-foot carriage house is packed with amenities, among them a gym, office and wine cellar.

Tobey Maguire’s prized patch of dirt

An aerial view of a dirt lot amid developed parcels with large homes and trees.
The empty lot covers almost an acre in an affluent area of Brentwood.
(NearMap)

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Southern California’s hot real estate market isn’t limited to houses. In Brentwood, Tobey Maguire just hauled in $10.75 million for a 1-acre patch of dirt.

An empty acre could fetch such a sum only in a handful of Los Angeles enclaves, and Brentwood is one of them. In a neighborhood chock-full of celebrities and famous estates, the undeveloped plot represents the chance to immediately start building a custom home with plenty of space to spread out.

Aerial photos show the plot is one of the only empty properties in the neighborhood.

Maguire, who starred in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy, barely pulled off a profit after paying $10 million for the property in 2008. Records show he first tried to sell it for $14.25 million in 2018 before eventually trimming the price down to $11 million last summer.

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Kenya Barris buys another

A view of the home's exterior, with two stories, multiple windows, balcony, patio and pool surrounded by rock.
The waterfront home features a dock on Toluca Lake, a swimming pool, spa, gym and professional recording studio.
(Anthony Barcelo)

Kenya Barris, the creator behind the shows “black-ish” and “#blackAF,” can’t get enough of the San Fernando Valley. He just shelled out $7.25 million for a Spanish-style spot in Toluca Lake, his fifth home in the area.

Records show he’s also owned properties in Valley Village, Encino and Studio City, where he paid $4.6 million for a Cape Cod-style residence last year.

His newest place emphasizes amenities, with a gym, six-car garage and professional recording studio spread across 6,500 square feet. The house enjoys a waterfront spot on Toluca Lake and takes advantage with a private dock, as well as a swimming pool and spa surrounded by lush landscaping.

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Big sale Down Under

Media heir Lachlan Murdoch just made a huge splash Down Under, buying a boat shed on the coast of Australia for about $29.8 million ($38 million in Australian dollars).

Murdoch — a son of billionaire Rupert Murdoch who serves as co-chairman of News Corp. and executive chairman of the Fox Corp. — is no stranger to huge real estate transactions. In 2019, he paid $150 million for the “Beverly Hillbillies” mansion in Bel-Air, which ranks as the second-priciest home sale in California history.

His new boat shed is much humbler than the Bel-Air mega-mansion. Clad in green shingles, the modest structure sits on 131 feet of waterfront in Point Piper, a small suburb of Sydney that regularly ranks as one of the country’s most expensive communities.

The reason for the eye-popping tab? The depth of the bay. Point Piper offers unusually deep water, which makes it much easier for the ultra-wealthy to moor their mega-yachts.

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$5 billion in rent assistance

Gavin Newsom speaks at a podium that carries the seal of California.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses his revised 2020-2021 state budget during a news conference in Sacramento on Thursday.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a second round of $600 state stimulus checks on Monday to hasten California’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping to expand the payments from low-income residents to include middle-class families, and noting that doing so would ensure benefits for 2 out of 3 state residents, write Patrick McGreevy and John Myers.

The proposal to deliver $8 billion in new cash payments to millions of Californians is part of a $100-billion economic stimulus plan made possible in part by a budget that has swelled with a significant windfall of tax revenues, a surplus the governor put at $75.7 billion.

Newsom also proposed $5 billion to double rental assistance to get 100% of back rent paid for those who fell behind, along with as much as $2 billion in direct payments to pay down utility bills, proposals that were supported by legislative leaders on Monday.

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What we’re reading

Fed up with the housing crisis in Oakland, a group of unhoused residents created a whimsical refuge known as “Cob on Wood,” the Guardian reported. Tucked under a freeway overpass, it consists of a series of structures built from foraged materials and includes a hot shower, healthcare clinic, fully stocked kitchen and outdoor pizza oven to help the roughly 300 residents of nearby encampments.

In grislier news, the lot that held the home where John Wayne Gacy murdered dozens in the 1970s sold for $395,000, TMZ reported. The property, which features a completely new home after Gacy’s place was demolished, sat on the market for more than a year.


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