We read with great interest the Celebrity Real Estate Losers article that Forbes.com uploaded early yesterday (and which was linked to by the Drudge Report!), which noted that Los Angeles home sales in December were down a whopping 48 percent year over year. The piece also listed several celebrities, including Avril Lavigne, who have had trouble selling their homes, with the article's thrust generally being that celebrities aren't immune from the real-estate slowdown any more than anyone else.
And while there's certainly some truth to that, at the same time, we have several reactions to the story:
--December typically is a slow month for real-estate sales, which probably makes it slightly less statistically significant as a housing-market indicator than other months. However, even so, the 48 percent decline is really, really striking.
--The Forbes article and the evidence of the 48 percent decline in December together speak to something that we on the celebrity real-estate gossip beat have noticed, which is the fact that there just are a lot fewer L.A.-area celebrity real-estate deals lately than there were, say, six months ago. It's not just that there is less celebrity selling (whether to other celebrities or not), but that it just feels like there's far less celebrity buying in L.A. now than at any other time since we started blogging in November 2006 (and for that matter, since we started following celebrity real estate as a free-lance writer for the Chicago Tribune in 1998). This phenomenon is most pronounced at the weekly column level, where the Los Angeles Times Ruth Ryon seems to be breaking fewer and fewer stories than ever. It may be in part because she is now merely piggybacking off stories that we and the Real Estalker are getting first, but we also suspect that because there are so significantly fewer deals, it's harder for her to find meaty items to lead her Hot Property column.
--Our final takeaway from the Forbes article is that again and again, this market shows that seller expectations still need to come down, particularly in L.A. People who are pricing homes right are getting them moved. There are plenty of recent examples of L.A.-area buyers and sellers paying *above* the asking price. Among the many examples of this that we have written about in the last few months are Tommy Lee, who paid $100,000 above the $5.75M asking price for his house in Calabasas, Ozzy Osbourne, who paid more than $350,000 above the asking price for a house for his daughter in the Bird Streets area of the Hollywood Hills, and Jamie Kennedy, who sold. This tells us that even in this market, if you price your home right as a seller, it'll get sold.
As for the celebrities whose unsold houses were mentioned in the article, we've written about each of those listings on various occasions. We've written about Avril Lavigne's unsuccessful efforts to sell her house more times than we had care to mention, and we have also written about Ed McMahon's listing as well. And, the Forbes story cited several stories that we exclusively reported, including the story last week of Wilmer Valderrama selling his house in the Tarzana area of Los Angeles for $1,750,000, and the story in late December of rocker Slash selling his house in Los Angeles' Hollywood Hills.