Real Estate newsletter: California’s shrinking starter home

A man poses for a photo outside his home.
Zach Zyskowki poses for a portrait outside his one-bedroom home in Hollywood.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter. If you read my work regularly, you may feel like Southern California homes are getting bigger and bigger, but this week, I spent time exploring a property type that’s getting smaller and smaller: the starter home.

Once the golden promise of Southern California’s suburban sprawl, the starter home is becoming less attainable to the middle class as prices and interest rates soar. As a result, many Angelenos are forced to accept a new definition of what a starter home can be, starting families in accessory dwelling units, condos and other scaled-back solutions.

Want two bedrooms? How about one, plus an office that might fit a twin-size bed. Want a backyard? How about a space shared with the rest of the condo complex. Want to paint the exterior of your townhouse? The homeowner association won’t allow it, but feel free to spruce up the inside.

It’s a new era — one that’s forcing us to get creative.

On the other end of the spectrum, we saw a fitting sale for the first few weeks of football season, as former Rams quarterback Jared Goff passed his Hidden Hills hideaway for $6.396 million. A California native, Goff bought the place in 2018, two years after he was drafted by the Rams.


Goff now plays for the Detroit Lions, and his money probably went a bit farther in Michigan.

Our other big listing takes us to South Florida, where rapper Lil Wayne is asking $29.5 million for his waterfront home on Biscayne Bay. It’s an ambitious ask, considering he paid about half that for it, $16.75 million, in 2018.

The week also brought commercial news from Hollywood and Sacramento. In Tinseltown, the historic Art Deco Television Center studio complex is getting a $600-million face-lift, becoming the latest of many studios to get some new life.

You can thank the glut of streaming services for the renovation. As companies fight to win the hearts and eyes of audiences by cranking out show after show, there’s a massive surge in demand for soundstages and production facilities.

In Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two major bills to address affordable housing, paving the way for converting commercial real estate into housing. Bringing the bills forward wasn’t easy, as everyone from unions, developers and affordable housing groups had something to say about the plan.

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

The incredible shrinking starter home

Zach Zyskowki
Zach Zyskowki poses for a portrait inside his one-bedroom home in Hollywood.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

For decades, the single-family home has been Southern California’s ultimate lure — a chance to live a life of sun and sand from the comfort of your very own property.

Most buyers’ ticket into that life is the starter home. Something modest but not minuscule. Two bedrooms, maybe three. A picket fence in front and a yard out back for the kids and dog to play.

But the starter home has changed. As home prices have soared and higher mortgage interest rates have made everything less affordable, wish lists have become more and more wishful, and buyers have been forced to find something smaller and less practical.

Making compromises has always been a part of house hunting, but in a market where some two-bedroom homes are selling for $1 million or more — often for hundreds of thousands more than the asking price — middle-class buyers are forced to take whatever they can get.

Former Ram passes home

The 1.4-acre estate includes a main house, guesthouse, swimming pool and putting green.
(Jeff Elson)

NFL quarterback Jared Goff just sold his Hidden Hills home for $6.396 million — a nice improvement upon the $4.05 million he paid for the place in 2018.

A California native, Goff spent five seasons with the Rams and led the team to a Super Bowl appearance before he was traded to the Detroit Lions in 2021. During his four-year stay, he touched up the backyard by adding a custom golf chipping pad and putting green.


Like many homes in Hidden Hills, the property has plenty of space at 1.4 acres and takes advantage with a main house, guesthouse and entertainer’s backyard complete with a swimming pool, spa, covered patio and grilling area.

Rapper lists waterfront mansion

Spanning more than 10,000 square feet, the waterfront mansion claims 110 feet of frontage on Biscayne Bay.
Spanning more than 10,000 square feet, the waterfront mansion claims 110 feet of frontage on Biscayne Bay and comes with a private dock.
(Become Legendary / Douglas Elliman)

Lil Wayne settled down in Hidden Hills last year, dropping $15.4 million on a modern farmhouse on three acres. Now the rapper is shopping around his home on the other side of the country, listing a Miami Beach mansion for $29.5 million.

His West Coast home has a bit more space, but the East Coast home offers a prime location. It spans half an acre on Allison Island, a 35-acre island filled with luxury homes on Biscayne Bay. To take advantage of the waterfront setting, there’s a tropical backyard with a swimming pool, cabana, private dock and 110 feet of water frontage.

Tucked behind gates, the estate features an impressive entry with double doors at the end of a floating walkway over water. The exterior is wrapped in wood and glass, and the same design palette continues inside, where vast, minimalist spaces boast clean lines and 22-foot ceilings.

Studio gets $600-million expansion

Exterior of the historic art deco Television Center studio complex
Exterior of the historic Art Deco Television Center studio complex in Hollywood, which is undergoing a $600-million makeover.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

A historic Hollywood studio site where such stars as Rudolph Valentino and Lillian Gish made silent films is poised for a $600-million comeback in the new era of streaming entertainment, writes Roger Vincent.

The owner of Television Center, once home to Technicolor’s filmmaking laboratory and Metro Pictures Corp., plans to turn the dated complex on Romaine Street into a bigger, more modern studio that will rent production facilities to people who make movies and television shows.

Spurred by the intensifying competition between streaming platforms such as Netflix and Apple TV+, television production is the top driver of demand for both on-location and stage-based production.

In the ring of L.A.’s famed Thirty Mile Zone, developers are upgrading old studios such as Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank and Universal Studios and inventing whole new ones, including one on the property of the former Sears store in Hollywood and one planned in the Los Angeles Times’ printing plant downtown.

Newsom signs major affordable housing bills

SAN FRANCISCO CA JUNE 17, 2022 - A low-income housing complex being rehabbed at 2206 Great Highway.
A low-income housing complex being rehabbed at 2206 Great Highway on Friday, June 17, 2022, in San Francisco.
(Paul Kuroda/For The Times)

In a historic deal between affordable housing groups and labor unions, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two major bills Wednesday to convert underutilized and vacant commercial buildings into housing, writes Hannah Wiley.


Senate Bill 6 and Assembly Bill 2011 incentivize housing projects in commercial corridors otherwise zoned for large retail and office buildings as a way to help California fill a multimillion-unit shortage in its housing supply. Both bills guarantee union-scale wages and promise an expedited construction process, while keeping development close to city centers to help the state meet its environmental goals and avoid sprawl.

Newsom said the two laws will help California address the state’s “original sin” of housing affordability.

“It has been a stubborn issue. Decade after decade after decade, just fighting and talking about it and fighting each other in the process,” Newsom said.

What we’re reading

If you own a home in Southern California, it’s probably increasing in value every single day. But how much? The New York Times analyzed the last decade of single-family home prices and found that homes in San Jose had a net daily value increase of $266, the highest of any metro area in the country. Unsurprisingly, California cities took the top four spots on the list with San Francisco ranking second at $208, Anaheim ranking third at $146 and L.A. ranking fourth at $123.

Amazon wants to be in your home, and its latest robot Astro is the most invasive, er, innovative, gadget yet. The bowling ball-sized robot rolls around on two wheels and can keep an eye on your place while you’re away, but the tech giant announced new software this week, including abilities to recognize when a door or window has been left open or recognizing your pets and taking videos of them. For now, Rosey from the Jetsons still has it beat. Wired has the story.