Bel-Air Mansion Known as ‘Billionaire’ Now 25% Off—Only $188M

Some homes are known by a single moniker. Think Fallingwater, Graceland, or Monticello. Ultraluxe real estate developer Bruce Makowsky wants to add the Bel-Air mansion known as “Billionaire” to that storied list of mononym homes.

The pricey spec property with the pecuniary nickname landed on the market last year with an enormous splash. With a list price of $250 million, it was the most expensive residential property in the country at the time.

But the mansion never met its match at the quarter-billion price point. Now, the home has bounced back on to the market with a prodigious $62 million slashed from its eye-popping price tag.

The twist? The reduction in price to $188 million was not for lack of offers.

The 38,000 square foot, $188 million dollar mansion known as "Billionaire."
The mansion known as “Billionaire”

realtor.com

An offer was actually made and accepted last year for the 38,000-square foot, 12-bedroom, 21-bath behemoth, and it was off the market for several months while it sat in escrow.

Alas, the megadeal hit some snags and fell through. Which was tough luck for the prospective buyers, because they lost their deposit.

But the team selling the mansion said the botched deal saw the silver lining. “It helped establish a market price,” says co-listing agent Shawn Elliott of Nest Seekers International. He has the listing along with Rayni and Branden Williams of Hilton & Hyland.

Mainly, it’s a bit of a brain teaser to establish a home’s asking price when there are no comps available. And if there was ever a place beyond compare, this is it. Because local building regulations have changed, no one will ever be able to construct a hillside home of this size again.

But the one-of-a-kind location and bespoke construction of this megamansion aren’t the only selling points for this elite property. There are superluxe amenities everywhere you turn. Here are just a few highlights.

A helicopter and helipad

Granted, the helipad is more of an art installation on the roof, because helicopters aren’t permitted to land in Bel-Air. But it’s impressive nonetheless—and graced by the helicopter used in the 1980s TV show “Air Wolf.” The copter’s been polished and tricked out in Makowsky’s signature fashion, but you just can’t fly in it.

"Billionaire" comes with the helicopter used in the "Air Wolf" TV series--parked just outside the office.
The helicopter used in “Air Wolf”

realtor.com

———

Three gourmet kitchens

One is for family dining, one is a professional chef’s show kitchen, and one is for the staff. They’re all outfitted with top-of-the-line appliances, dishes, and cutlery. “Bruce believes that if you treat the staff well, they’ll treat you well,” says Elliott.

———

Two fully stocked wine cellars

One is filled exclusively with various sized golden bottles of Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s Ace of Spades champagne, which range from $850 to $6,000 a pop. The other wine storage space is stocked with a number of rare vintages.

A champagne room, fully stocked with Ace of Spades champagne, is included.
Champagne room fully stocked with Ace of Spades champagne

realtor.com

———

135 art installations

The art on the property is worth an estimated $10 million. Many of the objects, like the world’s largest Leica camera (made of chrome), custom-made motorcycles that double as art, and animated, interactive portraits of Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs, are priceless.

The Seven Dwarfs animated, interactive art installation.
The “Seven Dwarfs” interactive art installation

realtor.com

———

Three outrageous theater areas

One is an 18-by-12 foot pop-up screen located on the far side of the infinity pool. It smoothly emerges from the ground and offers an outdoor drive-in experience day or night.

There’s a 40-seat (leather, of course) Dolby Atmos theater stocked with a library of thousands of films, including first-run movies available for viewing.

Oh, and the largest residential screen in the world, a 25-by-9-foot screen that can can be subdivided into at least six screens, with different shows running all at the same time. The massive display anchors the bar and nightclub lounge.

The 40-seat Dolby Atmos theater with Hermes cushions.
The 40-seat theater with Hermès cushions

realtor.com

The pop up pool side theater
The pop-up pool side theater

realtor.com

———

Multiple bars

Speaking of bars, no matter where you are in this home, you’ll never be parched. There’s the aforementioned nightclub bar featuring chrome and white leather stools, a swim-up bar at one end of the pool, and a “motor bar” made of lucite-encased boat motors.

Night club lounge bar with massive TV
Nightclub lounge bar with massive TV

realtor.com

———

Nine dining areas

Most dining areas feature custom tables designed for the mansion. They can seat as many as 24 people, and are outfitted with designer china, silver, and crystal from the likes of Roberto Cavalli and Lalique.

One of nine dining areas.
One of nine dining areas. Note the giant chrome Leica on the right.

realtor.com

———

Two commercial-grade elevators

They have padded walls lined with crocodile skin. Because … why not?

———

A spacious auto gallery

Get this—it’s fully stocked with a car collection worth more than $30 million, including Morgans, Bugattis, and a Spyker, all in perfect running condition.

Some of the unique cars in the $30 million collection that comes with the house.
Some of the unique cars in the collection that comes with the house

realtor.com

———

12 bedrooms

The dozen boudoirs include two massive master suites, one with a wrap-around jacuzzi, the world’s most expensive coffee machine, and his-and-hers closets inspired by a Louis Vuitton boutique and a Chanel boutique in Paris.

———

Luxury textiles

Sofas, chairs, and lounges are draped with Fendi and Hermès pillows or soft Loro Piana cashmere throws.

Beds are all swathed in Frete linens.

Chairs with Fendi Casa cushions.
Chairs with Fendi Casa cushions

realtor.com

———

Exotic stone everywhere

Makowsky had a curator comb the globe for more than 50 different types of exotic stone. The mansion features tiger quartz and honey onyx gracing the walls, countertops, and tables.

———

A massage studio and wellness spa

This one not only has sumptuous massage tables, but professional hair styling and mani-pedi stations.

The massage tables in the wellness spa
The massage tables in the wellness spa

realtor.com

———

A state-of-the-art fitness center

Even the gym has amazing views a fitness buff can enjoy while working out on Technogym equipment

Gym with state-of-the-art, and a trainer, if you so desire.
State-of-the-art gym, and a trainer, if you so desire.

realtor.com

———

Enviable greenery

There’s a veritable forest of meticulously manicured specimen Canary palms. Each is worth between $80,000 and $150,000.

———

A seven-person staff of your choosing

Elliott explains the house is perfectly synced so two people can run it from their iPads. Live-in servants aren’t necessary, but should you want the services of a butler/house manager, housekeeper, chef, driver, masseuse, personal trainer, hair/makeup stylist, whatever, their services will be paid for up to two years.

———

17,000 square feet of deck space

The decks overlook a 270-degree unobstructed view spanning from the mountains to the ocean. Views of Hollywood, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Catalina are there for the taking.

———

A game room with a candy wall

This amazing wall comes completely stocked with candies of all flavors, shapes, and colors.

You might recognize this feature from the Makowsky-built mansion that Minecraft Founder Markus “Notch” Persson snatched away from Jay-Z and Beyoncé in a bidding war.

The famous candy wall. Nom nom nom
The famous candy wall

realtor.com

———

With the reduced asking price of $188 million, Billionaire is no longer the priciest residential offering on the market. Priced at $200 million, the Manor in Holmby Hills reclaims its title as most expensive property in the country.

But the Manor (and the Billionaire) should be looking over their shoulders at a different SoCal home that’s circling the title. The $500 million spec home up the hill from Billionaire known as “The One” is set be finished in mid-2018. By that time, Billionaire hopes to be happily entertaining new owners.

Well-Rounded: A 14-Sided Round House in Oakland Perched on Hillside

A 14-sided round house on the market in Oakland, CA, completely rejects the rectangular form. In an understatement, listing agent Gaylen Roberts says “It’s not a traditional.”

Roberts added, “It’s a unique property in the sense of the construction type, location, the details. All of those things need the right buyer.”

With Bay Area prices skyrocketing, the eye-popping three-bedroom, round residence jutting out of the side of a hill is a stand-out in design—and price.

To move into this home, which touches the tree tops in the desirable Montclair neighborhood, sits next to hiking trails, and is close to mass transit, a buyer needs to plunk down just $795,000. 

14-sided house
14-sided house

realtor.com

Entry
Entry

realtor.com

Open living space
Open living space that opens to deck

realtor.com

Private deck of master suite
Private deck of master suite

realtor.com

Master bedroom
Master bedroom

realtor.com

Earthstone retaining wall and patio
Earthstone retaining wall and patio

realtor.com

Built in 1992, the home is the result of prefab design married to a major engineering marvel at the base, making efficient use of the sloped 9,079-square-foot lot.

The home was the result of plans from Eagle’s Nest Builders, a company that sold floor plans for a round woodsy home with over a dozen sides. 

To make the plan work on the difficult piece of property, “tons of concrete” were poured into the foundation. The modular wood sections making up each of the 14 sides of the home were put in place after the concrete.

The result is a 2,103-square-foot, sunny modern home with bamboo floors and high ceilings. Best of all? “There’s pretty much windows on every wall, and those windows go all the way around,” Roberts says.

Enter the contemporary three-story on the first level, which holds the basement, shop, and storage. Up the stairs on the second floor are two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a small sitting room or office.  

The third floor includes a kitchen with slate floors and counters, plus the master suite, complete with a private sitting area and a deck.

The master bath has been updated, and the exterior blue and white paint colors are new. Otherwise, the house holds up just fine, Roberts says. It’s located right next to the hiking trails of Shepherd Canyon. The current owner, who is moving out of the Bay Area, found the steep hill perfect for exercising his dog. 

This circular delight is one of just six round houses in Oakland, and it’s the only one that doesn’t date back to the middle of the 20th century.

One caveat: Round homes require special financing. According to Roberts, not all banks know how to appraise these unique structures. However, Roberts is prepared for this, as he sold the home two years ago to the current owner, and knows which financial institutions will agree to a mortgage on a round abode.

Once financing is in place, it’s ready for move-in, “This is the perfect mountain house for someone who loves hiking and who wants to be creative,” Roberts says. Sign us up. 

The Hottest Markets for U.S. Real Estate: Is California’s Reign Over?

How the mighty have fallen! For the first time in years, California markets aren’t fully dominating our monthly list of the hottest markets on realtor.com®.  In fact, the Golden State has even ceded its long-held No. 1 spot!

Each month at realtor.com®, we rank the top metro areas where homes sell the fastest, and where eager house hunters are clicking up a storm on our listings. And each month, California reliably hogs the greatest share of the top 20 spots of any state. But while 11 of the top 20 markets in March could be found in the Golden State, in April, that tally had fallen to only six.

That’s the lowest number since we started doing this ranking, in 2013.

Nine other states were represented on the top 20 list: Texas (2), Massachusetts (2), New York (2), Michigan (2), Colorado, Washington, Ohio, Idaho, and Wisconsin.

Longtime top dog San Francisco fell to No. 3 in April, ceding the throne to … Midland, TX, which had previously been at No. 5. Second place went to Boston, which just hosted its famous marathon.

(The definition of big-city markets often include neighboring towns. For example, the San Francisco market includes nearby Oakland and Hayward, and the Boston market includes Cambridge, Newton, and a tiny slice of New Hampshire.)

The top movers for the month are Racine, WI (up 28 spots from March); Rochester, NY (up 14); and Detroit (up 13). Columbus, OH, moved up five spots to reach No. 4, the highest it’s ever reached in our ranking.

Realtor.com’s hottest markets receive 1.6 to 2.7 times the number of views per listing compared to the national average. These markets are seeing homes move off the market 17 to 40 days more quickly than the rest of the United States.

The hot list

Rank (March)  Market  Rank (March)  Rank Change
1  Midland, TX  5 4
2  Boston, MA   7 5
3  San Francisco, CA  1 -2
4  Columbus, OH  9 5
5  Vallejo, CA  2 -3
6  Colorado Springs, CO  3 -3
7  Racine, WI  35 28
8  Sacramento, CA  10 2
9  Stockton, CA  8 -1
10  Ann Arbor, MI 20 10
11  San Jose, CA  4 -7
12  Rochester, NY  26 14
13  Spokane, WA  25 12
14  Boise City, ID  13 -1
15  Santa Cruz, CA  6 -9
16  Detroit, MI  29 13
17  Odessa, TX  24 7
18  Dallas, TX 16 -2
19  Buffalo, NY  18 -1
20  Worcester, MA  27 7

Watch Joanna Gaines Tackle the Trickiest Home Decor Problem a Couple Will Ever Face

Joanna Gaines can deliver a well-designed home, but what if the couple on the receiving end has extremely different tastes? That’s the challenge she faces in the latest “Fixer Upper: Behind the Design.”

You may recall that in this spin-off show, Joanna (with occasional cameos from Chip) delves into a detailed explanation of her design decisions from past “Fixer Upper” shows. This week, in an episode titled “The Scrivano House,” we revisit Courtney and Joey Scrivano, who have been living happily in a modern downtown loft. But once a baby arrives, they need a more family-friendly space with a yard and room to roam. So, Chip finds them a beautiful Tudor-style house, built in the 1920s, with five bedrooms, three baths, and plenty of space.

Fixer Upper: Behind the Design
The Scrivano house, in which Chip and Jo blended modern and traditional with Tudor.

Magnolia

Then the real challenges arrive. Joanna meets with the couple to discuss design, and discovers that Joey and Courtney each prefer very different styles. Joey likes the clean, modern lines of the bachelor pad loft they’ve been living in, and Courtney is into a European farmhouse look and feel.

Uh-oh.

This puts Joanna in the sticky position of delivering both styles at once. As she explains, “When you think about traditional and modern, it’s like saying ‘I want an old/new house.'”

Nonetheless, Joanna cleverly handles the situation by letting the character and personality of the home itself lead the design—then by adding a few distinct touches of the differing features they each like.

“For traditional style, I’m thinking detailed trim, wainscoting, and neutral paint colors will work well,” she suggests. “For his modern style, I think we can incorporate some smoother textures and maybe a really clean fireplace.”

See how miracle worker Joanna makes these conflicting styles work together, and get some smart tips for how you can do the same in your own home.

Take a look at a nook

If you want an eat-in kitchen but don’t have room for a big island with seating space, try a breakfast nook in one corner. Joanna has Chip build in booth seating, then has woodwork specialist Clint Harp build a round table of walnut, to match the decor in the rest of the kitchen. It’s the perfect, cozy dining space!

How to do a checkered floor right

Courtney loves a good black-and-white checkered floor, but too much of it can not only make your eyes go crazy but give the place a 1950s diner look, rather than the updated 1920s Tudor vibe they’re carrying through the rest of the house. So in the kitchen, Joanna uses black and cream, rather than black and white, to soften the effect.

She also uses painted cabinetry in a light color and warm woods to blend into the distinctive pattern. But when the tile is laid and the cabinetry installed, she admits, “All I see is black and white.” So she breaks up the pattern by getting a walnut island table to match the round wood table Harp made for the breakfast nook. Everything balances perfectly.

Fixer Upper: Behind the Design
The renovated Scrivano kitchen

Magnolia

Never put a bathroom next to a kitchen

The existing bathroom off the back of the kitchen seems awkward, and nobody wants to think about the smells. So, since the plumbing is already in place, Joanna converts that ill-placed bathroom into a well-placed butler’s pantry for extra storage and prep space in the smallish kitchen. Genius!

Make arches pop

If you’ve got great original features in a home, Jo is a big fan of emphasizing rather than eliminating.  “The cased openings on the home matched the arches on the exterior, so I knew I wanted to highlight them by implementing a darker trim with lighter walls,” she explains. And yes, it works like a charm.

Fixer Upper: Behind the Design
The Scrivano living room, with a simple fireplace, minimal accessories on the built-in shelving, and accent color around the arches.

Magnolia

Less is more with built-ins

Joanna advises filling built-in shelves with fewer, simpler items, rather than cramming them full of books or other heavy accessories. “Too much takes away from the whole story of the room,” she says. “Minimalizing it a bit, but also giving it some interest. That’s the key.”

Wallpaper: A little goes a long way

If you like the idea of wallpaper but aren’t sure you will like the reality of it, the guest bath or powder room is a good place to experiment. For the Scrivano home, Joanna selects a black-and-white rose pattern that’s a reproduction from the 1880s.

Remove stairs leading to nowhere

A lot of old homes with gabled roofs have attic space that’s good for storage only. So why devote important square footage in the house to a stairway that you’ll seldom, if ever, use? Joanna has Chip entirely remove the staircase, and install a trap-door, drop-down staircase in the ceiling for attic access. The small amount of strategic square footage it adds makes a big difference. Which just goes to show that with Joanna’s designs, little details matter.

Maryland Home of NASA Pioneer and Former Sen. John Glenn Lists for $1.65M

The Maryland home of the late astronaut and four-term U.S. Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, is on the market for $1.65 million.

Last month, hundreds of people lined up for a four-day estate sale at the house, which included (among many things) Glenn’s old leather flight jackets, his Senate seat, an official china set only given to sitting U.S. senators, and clothing from his 1998 NASA mission, where, at the age of 77, he became the oldest person to fly in space.

Built in 1990, Glenn’s five-bedroom, five-bath Cape Cod-style house served as his home base for years while he worked on nearby Capitol Hill. Located on a more than half-acre lot at the end of a cul-de-sac, the house overlooks the TPC Potomac golf course in Bethesda, MD.

Backyard
Backyard

realtor.com

The house has a perfectly symmetrical design, with double doors that open to a two-story foyer. Stairs lead up to the bedrooms, and down to a ground-floor recreation room and the patio outside. There are fireplaces in both the formal dining room and den, which has a wall-length, built-in bookcase.

Den
Den

realtor.com

There’s an open-concept kitchen, informal dining area, and living room with another fireplace. Large, sliding-glass doors open to a second-story deck.

Kitchen
Kitchen

realtor.com

Glenn’s master bedroom had 14-foot-tall vaulted ceilings, with a loft platform leading to the home’s upper level.

Downstairs, there’s a large recreation room, wet bar, and a row of French doors that open to the patio. Glenn’s office was located on the ground floor (the listing photos show a model rocket on his desk). Elsewhere, there’s a wine cellar, firepit, and a three-car garage.

Office
Office

realtor.com

Glenn died in late 2016, at the age of 95. He had, unquestionably, one of the most interesting careers of any American born in the 20th century.

He joined the U.S. Marines at the outbreak of World War II, and flew combat missions in the Pacific, and later, fighter jets in the Korean War. By the mid-1950s, he had signed up as an experimental test pilot, routinely flying dangerous missions in supersonic jets. As a test pilot, he set the transcontinental speed record—flying from California to New York in three hours and 23 minutes.

NASA recruited Glenn after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, sparking the space race. In 1962, with 135 million people watching on TV, Glenn climbed aboard the Friendship 7, and spent nearly five hours orbiting the Earth—becoming the first American to do so. He later served in the U.S. Senate from 1974 to 1999 in his home state of Ohio.

Glenn’s children, Carolyn Ann and David, organized last month’s estate sale and are coordinating the home sale. While preparing for the estate sale, Glenn’s family discovered a mysterious vial in his sock drawer, filled with what appeared to be small rocks, NBC Washington reports. The vial was sent to NASA Goddard for testing.

Fact or Fiction? 6 Down Payment Myths You Should Stop Believing Immediately

If you’re thinking about buying your first home, that pesky down payment has probably kept you awake more than a few nights. We get it—while a pre-approval is crucial for determining your buying power, it’s the down payment that shows you mean business.

But saving up is hard. In a study conducted by NerdWallet, 44% of respondents said a lack of a down payment was the roadblock keeping them from buying a home.

Making things even worse? Your well-meaning friends and family have probably given you at least one piece of well-meaning, but ill-informed advice, leaving you in more of a blind panic than you need to be.

We’re not saying that saving for a down payment will be a cake walk, but separating fact from fiction can go a long way. Here’s the truth you need to know.

Myth No. 1: You need 20% down

In the NerdWallet study, 44% of respondents also believed you need 20% (or more) down to buy a home. For decades, this was standard, but it isn’t always the case anymore.

“It really depends on the type of buyer you are,” says Robert Garay, a broker associate and team leader of the Garay Group at Lifestyle International Realty in Miami.

For instance, a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan only requires 3.5% down. If either you or your spouse served in the military, you’re likely to be eligible for a Veterans Affairs (VA) loan, which can be approved for 0% down. The same goes for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans.

And if you’re a qualified buyer, you can get approved for a conventional loan with less than 20% down, but there’s a catch: You’ll be on the hook for private mortgage insurance, or PMI. PMI is paid directly to your lender, not toward your principal. Think of it essentially as insurance you pay to prove to the lender you won’t default on your loan.

Myth No. 2: Paying mortgage insurance is smarter than paying a bigger down payment

Perhaps that mortgage insurance seems like a small price to pay in order not to deplete your bank account and win the house. So what if you make some additional payments for a while?

It might not be a big deal, but you’ll want to calculate what you’ll pay in the long run. Take, for example, conventional loans. If you put less than 20% down, you’ll get stuck with PMI, but only until the principal balance reaches 78% or less of the original purchase price.

FHA loans, on the other hand, require mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. That means you’ll be paying an extra monthly fee for as long as you live in the home (or until you pay off the mortgage).

Before you brush off mortgage insurance, compare your options—and know that paying less upfront could mean paying much more over the life of your loan.

Myth No. 3: Cash is king

If you’re shopping in a competitive market, you’ve likely heard horror stories about first-time buyers getting snubbed over investors or all-cash buyers. If you’re working with a loan and a small amount down, it might seem like your chances of getting picked over the other guys are slim to none.

There is some truth to this belief. Cash offers offer one big benefit to a seller: They’re guaranteed to close on time with no loan approval hiccups.

But on the flip side,“That myth assumes that sellers care most about a fast and certain close, and that’s not always true,” says Casey Fleming, mortgage adviser and author of “The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.”

Often, if you make the bigger offer, or you write a killer personal letter that resonates with the seller, you stand a better chance of getting approved over an all-cash offer.

Fleming’s seen it happen: “I’ve actually beat out all cash offers with 10% down because our offer price was a little higher,” he says. “I’ve also had deals where we were competing against a higher cash offer and the seller took ours because the buyers were a young family wanting to raise their kids in the home—and that meant something to the seller.”

Myth No. 4: Down payment assistance is easy!

We hate to burst your bubble—or discourage you from trying to get down payment assistance if you qualify—but finding, applying, and getting approved for help isn’t always easy.

First, there are no national, or even many state-run, assistance programs.

“Pretty much every program is locally run, sometimes by county or even by city,” Fleming says. You can check the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website for a smattering of state-run “homeowner assistance” options, but you’ll have to do some digging.

And then there’s the other rub. “You have to be under a certain income to qualify, usually the median income in the county,” Fleming says.

Some programs may make special exceptions—say, for single parents—but in general, income is going to be a big factor.

For example, to be eligible for down payment assistance in Grand County, CO, applicants must work a minimum of 32 hours per week in the area and meet income limits. Nevada’s “Home Is Possible Down Payment Assistance Program” has a cap on income, credit score requirements, and the cost of the home bought. In Tamarac, FL, applicants must meet income requirements, wait until an open enrollment period and then get picked from a lottery system.

Still, if you think you might qualify, call your local housing authority office—it can usually point you in the right direction.

Myth No. 5: You shouldn’t put more than 20% down

Let’s say you’re lucky enough to have saved more than 20% down. Odds are good some well-meaning friend is going to tell you to put only 20% down—no more, no less. After all, now that you’ve successfully avoided PMI, why fork over more cash than you have to?

A couple of reasons, Fleming says: First, a higher down payment could signal to your lender that you’re a trustworthy borrower and get you a lower interest rate on your mortgage. Plus, the more you pay upfront, the less you’re borrowing—which means lower mortgage payments.

But you’ll have to put down at least 5% more to see that difference, according to Fleming.

“Your interest rate drops a little more with 25% down, and even more with 35% down,” he says.

Compare your options to see if it makes more sense to pay the extra down or to keep that money in investments that can work for you.

Myth No. 6: You can take out a loan for a down payment

Truth: There’s nothing wrong with getting help with your down payment, but it has to be a gift. If a lender suspects the money might be a loan, repaying said loan will be factored into your mortgage approval amount and you’ll qualify for less than you might have wanted.

In order to prove it’s a gift, you’ll have to get a letter from the gifters, swearing that they don’t plan on asking for the money back. And don’t try to game the system—lying on a mortgage application is a felony.

Dori Zinn contributed to this article.