Last Updated Aug 3, 2009 2:28 PM EDT
In last week's Los Angeles Times' Hot Property column, real estate editor Lauren Beale revealed that Hugh Hefner and his Playboy Bunny Wife Kim sold their house next door to the Playboy Mansion for a cool $18 million.
That sounds like a lot of cash, but Hugh and Kim Hefner took more than a bit of a hit from the March 2009 $27,995,000 list price - a 35 percent decline in the sales price.
According to Beale, the house is a 7,300 Tudor-style home built in 1929, with 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms on 2.3 acres backing up to the Los Angeles Country Club. Celebrity site TMZ offered up this photo which shows that perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Hefner took the whole "next door neighbor's thing" to a whole new level.
Like many empty-nester families, the Hefners are supposedly selling because their sons are heading to college. Will they downsize into one house (presumably the Playboy mansion) instead of two?
Meanwhile, there are a whole bunch of high-end properties that aren't selling as quickly (it took the Hefners just four months to sell) - but some real estate observers say that's because sellers aren't quite ready to admit that their homes are only worth what they were in, say, 2002. (When the Hefner's bought the house in 1996, it was listed at a little less than $18 million, although the purchase price was undisclosed.)
In today's Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiraos and James Haggerty report that in Kenilworth, Ill., routinely ranked as one of the most expensive zip codes in the nation, just 13 homes have sold while 65 languish on the market.
At the super high end of the real estate spectrum, a world where mortgages are financial tools allowing you to invest cash elsewhere rather than the only way you'll be able to buy a home, it doesn't matter that jumbo loans cost more and are less available than mortgages for $417,000 or less. Whoever bought Hugh and Kim Hefner's house for $18 million probably didn't need a mortgage to complete the purchase. And it probably doesn't matter to Hugh and Kim that they didn't make much money (if any, once closing costs and the commission are taken into account) on the sale.
But for folks sitting with homes priced at $2 to $3 million, loping off $1 million or more off the sales price could mean writing a hefty check at closing - or walking away with nothing more than their hat in hand.