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Trousdale goes tech

Markuss Persson’s home in Beverly Hills
Markus Persson, a Swedish tech billionaire who created Minecraft, forked over $70 million for this custom mansion in Beverly Hills.
(Simon Berlyn)

First came the celebrities: Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox moved to Trousdale in the early 2000s, bringing young Hollywood cachet to the Beverly Hills enclave where classic movie stars had long held sway.

Then the tech moguls arrived, and Trousdale Estates is now among the most expensive neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area — commanding the highest price per square foot, according to Rayni Williams, who sold about $95 million worth of property in the community in 2019.

Garrett Camp, co-founder of Uber Technologies Inc., paid $71 million last year for a home down the road from the one Aniston sold to legendary bond investor Bill Gross. The purchase by Camp topped the neighborhood’s $70-million record set by Minecraft creator Markus Persson in 2014.

In December, a massive showplace designed by Noah Walker sold for $35 million.

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Hollywood stars may have money, but tech biggies are really rich, and they’re usually younger — Camp is 41 and Persson is 40. That is transforming the Southern California metropolis and its luxury real estate market, where Los Angeles now has the largest tech workforce on the West Coast after San Francisco and Seattle, according to real estate firm CBRE.

Next door to Trousdale in Bel-Air, billionaire Elon Musk took out mortgages amounting to tens of millions of dollars for multiple homes.

“L.A. is such a calling card,” said Branden Williams, Rayni’s husband and partner, pointing to the draw of its glamour and climate on a clear, mild evening from the living room sofa of a $60-million Trousdale hilltop mansion he’s marketing, overlooking the city lights that define the skyline from downtown skyscrapers to the Pacific Ocean. “You feel like you’re up in the woods up here, and you’re two blocks off the Sunset Strip.”

It also helped that wealth in tech companies is surging as markets hit new highs. A slew of tech initial public offerings of stock allowed founders and other stakeholders to cash out. Camp sold about $20 million of shares in November, which is just a small fraction of his $2.8-billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google topped the list for the five biggest tech office deals in Los Angeles last year, where almost 1.2 million square feet of space were snapped up, according to CBRE. That’s the equivalent of more than 20 American football fields. The home purchases by tech moguls reflect that cluster effect.

“You need your tribe,” Brian Ades of Sotheby’s International Realty, who has represented Musk, said of tech billionaires. Compared with other buyers, they’re a lot more demanding and often expect immediate results, pushing brokers to have the mind-set that “I can shut down the Bay Bridge and run elephants backwards if I have to,” he said.

Trousdale Estates, named after developer Paul Trousdale, sits at Beverly Hills’ highest point. The first homes were built in the 1950s, and the enclave contains several Midcentury Modern residences.

Following the tech titans, the next wave of buyers will probably come from abroad, at least three brokers with listings in the area said. The buyers are likely to be from Europe and the Middle East, as well as China, in spite of the clampdown by the government. And that Trousdale property they plan to buy will probably not be their only home.

“People who come here want a home in their portfolio of six or seven homes,” Rayni Williams said. They’ll stay in Los Angeles for the weather or for business or social events, “then they’re off to New York or Europe in the morning.”

Waller writes for Bloomberg.


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