Real Estate newsletter: Historic week in Hollywood Hills

The three-story mansion in the Hollywood Hills, listed for $40 million
The three-story mansion in the Hollywood Hills, listed for $40 million, includes five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a glass elevator, 15-foot TV and 175-foot swimming pool overlooking the city.
(The Oppenheim Group)

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter. It was a wild week — one with record sales and possible Lakers drama — but we must start with the Hollywood Hills, where the market soared to new heights in the middle of September.

Earlier this week, I spoke to Jason Oppenheim, star of Netflix’s “Selling Sunset,” about what to expect in the Hollywood Hills, a market that’s always seen blockbuster sales but never quite ascended to the heights of neighbors such as Beverly Hills or Bel-Air. He had a bold prediction, claiming that the neighborhood with an all-time price record of $42.5 million would see $50-million or even $100-million home sales in the next few years.

A day later, his prediction came true. Just above the Sunset Strip in the Bird Streets, a property once owned by Ronald Reagan sold for $70 million, shattering the previous record.

The seller is Canadian developer Francesco Aquilini, who’s been making a small fortune on spec developments in the area over the last few years. And a person in a position to know (but who wished to remain unidentified) told me the buyer is Fanatics Chief Executive Michael Rubin, whose net worth is roughly $10.2 billion.


Oppenheim himself also made news in the Hollywood Hills this week, listing a 20,000-square-foot mega-mansion for $40 million. The amenity-loaded compound — a previous sale was a story line on Oppenheim’s Netflix show — is one of the biggest ever built in the neighborhood and comes with a 175-foot swimming pool and 15-foot TV that rises out of the ground.

Over in Brentwood, one listing stirred up some rumors in Lakerland. Russell Westbrook, who’s been the subject of trade talks over the last few months, put his 13,000-square-foot mansion on the market for $30 million.

The house, which comes with a basketball hoop out back, sits a few streets away from a home owned by his teammate, LeBron James.

I usually try to keep my coverage Southern California-centric, but I had to check in on the East Coast this week when Miami saw its all-time price record shattered by hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin, who paid $106.875 million for a pair of side-by-side homes on Biscayne Bay.

If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Griffin bought the most expensive home in U.S. history in 2019, shelling out $238 million for a New York penthouse.

Buyers got bad news this week as mortgage rates crept above 6% for the first time in more than a decade. If you recall, historically low mortgage rates were the main fuel of the raging pandemic market, so if rates keep climbing, demand could drop even more, shaking up a market that has already cooled compared with last year.

Speaking of the pandemic market, we also highlighted a new trend in the office market, which shrank a ton over the last two years as more Angelenos worked from home and the need for housing surpassed the need for office space.


As a result, many L.A. offices are being converted into apartment buildings. Goodbye water coolers, hello swimming pools.

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

An all-time record in Hollywood Hills

The three-story home sits on a knoll overlooking the Sunset Strip.
(Google Earth)

The Hollywood Hills just saw its priciest home sale ever. In the Bird Streets, a property once owned by Ronald Reagan has traded hands for $70 million — by far the most ever paid for a home in the neighborhood.

The buyer is Fanatics Chief Executive Michael Rubin, according to a person familiar with the deal who asked not to be identified because the individual wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. Fanatics is a sports e-commerce company valued at $27 billion, and Forbes puts Rubin’s net worth at $10.2 billion.

Records show the seller is a limited liability company tied to Francesco Aquilini, a Canadian businessman and developer who serves as chairman of the Vancouver Canucks NHL team. Aquilini has been on a hot streak in Hollywood Hills over the last few years; he set the neighborhood’s previous price record in 2020 when he sold a spec mansion to Jeffrey Gou, film producer and heir to the Foxconn fortune, for $42.5 million.

Previous listings reveal the property was once home to Ronald Reagan and his first wife, actress Jane Wyman. Photos are scarce since the house was never officially listed for sale, but aerial shots show that the home underwent a significant remodel in recent years.

Hollywood Hills’ biggest house asks $40 million

The mansion includes five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a glass elevator, 15-foot TV and 175-foot swimming pool.
The three-story mansion includes five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a glass elevator, 15-foot TV and 175-foot swimming pool overlooking the city.
(The Oppenheim Group)

The Hollywood Hills aren’t exactly known for space. While other luxury communities, such as Beverly Hills and Bel-Air, lure buyers with multiacre lots, the homes of the Hollywood Hills are typically tucked on smaller plots and are less spacious.

That’s not the case with the neighborhood’s newest listing. Just above the Sunset Strip, a 20,000-square-foot mega-mansion has surfaced for sale at $39.975 million.

According to the Multiple Listing Service, it’s the largest home ever sold in the Hollywood Hills, setting the record when it last traded hands, in 2019, for $35.5 million. If it looks familiar, that’s because the sale was a story line in the Netflix show “Selling Sunset.”

Lakers star is on the move

Built in 2018, the custom residence includes six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a chilled wine room, wet bar and movie theater.
Built in 2018, the custom residence includes six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a chilled wine room, wet bar and movie theater across more than 13,000 square feet.
(Hilton & Hyland)

As trade rumors swirl, Lakers star Russell Westbrook is shopping around his Brentwood home of four years for $30 million.

Westbrook, a nine-time NBA All-Star and former MVP who joined the Lakers last summer, bought the house newly built for $19.75 million in 2018. Records show the property was formerly owned by Anthony LaPaglia, an Australian actor who starred in the TV drama “Without a Trace.”

Found a few streets away from one of LeBron James’ multiple mansions, Westbrook’s estate spans half an acre in Brentwood Park, an affluent enclave where celebrities such as Judd Apatow and Al Michaels have owned homes.

The custom residence covers more than 13,000 square feet with six bedrooms, eight bathrooms and common spaces marked by wood, marble and glass. Beamed ceilings and built-ins touch up the living room, and amenities include a chilled wine room, wet bar and movie theater.

Billionaire pays a fortune for Miami spread

The four-acre estate includes 400 feet of water frontage and two mansions that combine for more than 20,000 square feet.
(1 Oak Studios)

Hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin has shattered the Miami price record, shelling out $106.875 million for a waterfront estate.

It’s the most ever paid for a home in Miami-Dade County, and records show Griffin stole the record from himself. Last year, he set the previous all-time high when he dropped $75 million on a home on Star Island, a man-made island in Biscayne Bay.

This one sits a few miles away in Coconut Grove, an affluent enclave where celebrities such as LeBron James and Sylvester Stallone have owned homes.

Griffin is best known as the founder and chief executive of Citadel, a global hedge fund with more than $30 billion in assets. The move comes shortly after he announced that he was relocating the company from Chicago to Miami.

High mortgage rates return

Photo illustration of a steeply rising mortgage line chart above cutout houses.
Mortgage rates just hit 6% and could further slow the housing market.
(Los Angeles Times photo illustration / Unsplash photo)

The 6% mortgage is back, writes Andrew Khouri.

For the first time since 2008, a widely watched survey shows the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed home loan is above 6%, the latest in a series of increases that has sharply slowed the housing market.

A year ago, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 2.86%, but rates have surged this year because of inflation and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to fight it.

According to the survey released Thursday from mortgage giant Freddie Mac, this week’s average clocked in at 6.02%, up from 5.89% the previous week.

L.A. offices are becoming apartments

Jaime Lee, left, chief executive of Jamison Realty Inc., and her brother Garrett Lee, president of Jamison Properties.
(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

A former Texaco office building, which has since been transformed into a luxury apartment complex with $2,250 units and a $6,500 penthouse, is part of a national push to convert aging office buildings to residential use as demand for housing surpasses the need for offices in many locations, writes Roger Vincent.

Turning old office buildings into apartments or condos is hardly new, but expected cutbacks in office rentals as companies’ permanently adapt to remote work prompted by the pandemic have spurred new interest among landlords in switching the uses of their buildings in the years ahead.

Most haven’t acted yet because overall demand for office space as COVID-19 wanes is yet to be established, but candidates for conversion are thick on the ground.

Think tank Rand Corp. identified in a March study 2,300 underutilized office and hotel properties in Los Angeles County that could be converted to housing. Most of them are older office buildings with big chunks of unrented space.

What we’re reading

Weeks after Serena Williams retired from tennis at the U.S. Open, her childhood home is going up for auction. The estate spans 10 acres in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and comes with two tennis courts where Serena and her sister, Venus, trained as children. It’s valued at roughly $1.42 million. TMZ has the details.

Zillow just released its latest 12-month forecast and predicted that home prices will fall in 259 U.S. housing markets and rise in 615 others. The infographic designed by Fortune says that San Francisco prices will fall by roughly 4% over the next year, and L.A. County and Orange County prices will fall by 2.2%. A bit further south, San Diego County prices are expected to rise by 0.5%.