Some people read tea leaves to predict the future. Me, I read headlines. Take these offerings this week from the home (buying) front:
“Home prices gain strongly in April,” news that perhaps springs from “Consumer confidence surges to five-year high, Conference Board says,” which is of course followed by the inevitable bad news, “Mortgages: 30-year fixed rate has jumped a point since early May,” which leads to the the inescapable conclusion that now is the time for you to run out and snap up this baby: “Mansion 5 stories underground on sale for $53 million.”
Wait. What was that last one?
OK, I hear you: We may be more confident consumers, but $53 million for a house? Lemme think about it and get back to you, Realtor person.
But see, this is more than a house. It’s a house in a hole. That’s right: Located in Rolling Hills (for you non-Angelenos, that’s in Palos Verdes, which is a spit of land best known for periodically shifting and sliding toward the Pacific Ocean), the house features a single story above ground but five stories below. It even has an underground tennis court.
As my colleague Lauren Beale wrote Sunday, Hacienda de la Paz (what, for $53 million, you thought it would just be 95 Elm St.?) a modest 50,000-square-foot, 8-acre estate, is “the brainchild of homeowner John Z. Blazevich, chief executive of shrimp importer Viva Food Group. Created over 17 years, the surprise-filled home atop the Palos Verdes Peninsula combines the owner’s love of history, architecture and art.”
Which kinda describes my house, at least the “surprise-filled” part. Why, just the other day, my place surprised me several times, like when there was water under the sink, and the toilet backed up in the bathroom, and a big hunk of paint chipped off the front, plus there’s something growing, apparently, in one of the walls.
But I digress. Beale resisted saying that that’s a lotta clams for one house. But who except Blazevich (and Forrest Gump) knew that shrimping could be so lucrative?
Still, for $53 million, there’s a lot to like. As Beale writes:
Attention to detail is evident everywhere. The hacienda’s driveway, lined with 70-year-old carob trees, opens to a limestone motor court hand-set by artisans from Portugal. On one side are the guesthouse and a grove of olive trees, which are harvested for oil making. Straight ahead are “the stables” — an apartment and garage wing — and to the other side are the main living quarters.
The plaster-covered adobe walls are 2 to 3 feet thick. The roof tiles, like those of the California missions, have the authentic taper of having been molded on a man’s thigh.
Which answers a question I’ve long had, that being how those adobe roof tiles got their shape. Still, with all the guys I see hanging around Home Depots, I’m not sure why they had to go all the way to Portugal to get folks to do the driveway bricks.
Anyway, there’s plenty more: “a reflecting pool, a boccie court, a swimming pool with 180-degree views of the Los Angeles basin and the Santa Monica Bay coastline.”
Or, as the listing agent, Marcie Hartley of Hilton & Hyland/Christie’s International Real Estate, says: “While ‘one of kind’ may be a tired and overused real estate cliche, in this case it is simply the absolute truth.”
Which is also sort-of Realtor-speak for “Who the heck is gonna pay $53 million for a house in sunny Southern California that’s mostly underground?”
But, as every Realtor knows, just as there is someone for everyone, there is someone for every house. And in this case, the perfect buyer is obvious: Hartley just needs to find to find a wealthy, confident consumer -- who’s also a doomsday prepper.