California Dreaming: Record $675m price on L.A. home

A mansion stands in this aerial photograph taken in Bel Air, California, U.S., on May 18, 2015. Estates with views of the Los Angeles basin are the California counterpart to Manhattan’s penthouses or London’s Mayfair manors, drawing a global cast
A mansion stands in this aerial photograph taken in Bel Air, California, U.S., on May 18, 2015. Estates with views of the Los Angeles basin are the California counterpart to Manhattan’s penthouses or London’s Mayfair manors, drawing a global cast of financiers, technology tycoons and celebrities who collect trophy homes like works of art. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LOS ANGELES - One of the biggest homes in The United States history is rising on a Los Angeles hilltop, and the developer hopes to sell it for a record US$500 million (S$ 675 million).

Nile Niami, a film producer and speculative residential developer, is pouring concrete in L.A.'s Bel Air neighbourhood for a compound with a 74,000-square-foot main residence and three smaller homes, according to city records. The project, which will take at least 20 more months to complete, will exceed 100,000 square feet, including a 5,000- square-foot master bedroom, a 30-car garage and a "Monaco-style casino," Mr Niami said. "The house will have almost every amenity available in the world," he wrote in an e-mail. "The asking price will be US$500 million."

Estates with views of the Los Angeles basin are the California counterpart to Manhattan's penthouses or London's Mayfair manors, drawing a global cast of financiers, technology tycoons and celebrities who collect trophy homes like works of art.

Around the world, five properties sold for US$100 million or more last year, and at least 20 others have nine-figure asking prices, Christie's International Real Estate reported last month.

The priciest home ever sold was a US$221 million London penthouse purchased in 2011, according to Christie's. The most expensive properties on the market include a US$425 million estate in France's Cote d'Azur, a US$400 million penthouse in Monaco and a US$365 million London manor.

Whether Mr Niami can get more than double the previous record for his mansion remains to be seen.

"I'm skeptical," said Jonathan Miller, president of appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and a Bloomberg View contributor. "My first reaction is laughter. But we're in this perpetual state of surprise as new thresholds are broken."

The current highest US asking price is US$195 million for Palazzo di Amore, a Beverly Hills, California, estate being offered by billionaire real estate entrepreneur Jeff Greene.

The record for a sale was the US$147 million that Barry Rosenstein, managing partner at hedge fund Jana Partners, paid last year for an estate in East Hampton, New York.

Mr Niami's project, on a 4-acre hilltop lot, will have 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean, Beverly Hills, downtown Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Plans called for removal of almost 30,600 cubic meters of earth, the equivalent of an American football field covered by 20 feet of dirt.

"It's a jaw-dropping property," Billy Rose, president of Beverly Hills-based brokerage Agency, said in an interview. He isn't affiliated with Mr Niami. "What he's looking to build will be the everything house on the premier site in L.A."

The average price of 37 homes sold in the first quarter in the Bel Air-Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles was US$5.29 million, down 27 per cent from a year earlier, when there were several "super deals," according to an Agency report.