Celebrities are investing in homes with more value than all the homes the average American will own in his lifetime.
The tradeoff: the rest of us know every detail about what they paid, what's included and what the rest of their housing portfolio looks like.
Yet even celebrities are benefitting from a luxury housing market that's drying up just as quickly as that in the rest of the country. Existing home sales in July fell 3.2% from the same time last year. The median existing home sale price of $244,100 meanwhile, is up 5.3% since the same time last year. That's the first time that housing sales have dropped since November of last year, and it's thanks to a relatively low supply of 2.13 million existing homes. That's 5.3% fewer than there were last year, and the 4.7-month supply is well below the 6 months that the National Association of Realtors deems healthy.
"Severely restrained inventory and the tightening grip it's putting on affordability is the primary culprit for the considerable sales slump throughout much of the country," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. "Realtors are reporting diminished buyer traffic because of the scarce number of affordable homes on the market, and the lack of supply is stifling the efforts of many prospective buyers attempting to purchase while mortgage rates hover at historical lows."
That's fairly bad news for the 32% of all buyers who are first-time home buyers -- up from 28% at the same time last year. However, with roughly one out of every five home sales being paid for in cash, house flippers are getting a lot of the deals that buyers never will.
Even celebrities are attuned to the whims of the market, with high-priced buys getting stratospheric sales prices just a year after purchase. With help from Zillow-owned real-estate site Trulia, we took a look at the celebrity housing market and found seven examples that illustrate how celebrities are taking advantage of a market that's turned in their favor:
7. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt's Hollywood Hills home
Asking price: $3.495 million
When Krasinski and Blunt first bought this home in 2014, he'd just finished his run as Jim Halpert on NBC's The Office and she was having a monster year as the co-star of Tom Cruise's geek epic Edge of Tomorrow (take the "Live. Die. Repeat." nonsense to the forums, kids) and Disney's version of Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods.
They'd also just had their oldest daughter, Hazel. Now that they've just welcomed a second daughter, Violet, in June, they've making the incredibly relatable move of upsizing to accommodate a growing family. Granted, most folks aren't upsizing out of a four-bedroom, four-bathroom, 3,483-square-foot home with a view of the canyons and L.A., but it's all a matter of perspective. Most folks also don't sell off a $6.5 million home earlier in the year (and absorb a $1.5 million hit on the original $8 million asking price). However, if the couple can earn a $1 million premium on what they paid for their spot at the end of a cul de sac, courtyard entry, followed by a gourmet commercial kitchen with great room, a formal dining room, media room, master suite with its own sitting area, multiple walk-in closets, natural-stone bathroom with steam shower and huge swimming pool, more power to them.
6. Chris Paul's Bel Air mansion
Asking price: $11.5 million
It's tough to believe Chris Paul is only 31, but somehow less believable that the Clippers point guard is still in the Bel Air "starter home" he bought when he first arrived after six seasons in New Orleans. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2006, has been a nine-time All-Star since and is already considered one of the greatest to ever play the position.
After all that, he's simply outgrown the home owned by Avril Lavigne before him and Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker before her. This 12,184-square-foot mansion, built in 2003, is in the gated community of Bel Air Crest and includes covered outdoor living/entertainment area, a barbecue station, a swimming pool, a commercial elevator, a home automation system, a 12-seat home theater, a 500-bottle a subterranean wine cellar and a chef's kitchen with a breakfast area. A private master suite includes a sitting room with a kitchenette, fireplace, private balcony, his-and-hers closets, and his-and-hers spa baths. It isn't that he doesn't like the ten-car garage; it's just that he still has the Woodland Hills house that he bought for $1.775 million while still at Wake Forest (which we're sure the NCAA was fine with), and he just spent $9 million on a home in Calabasas. If he turns the $3 million profit he expects from this sale, that should offset things a little.
5. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson's Pacific Palisades compound
Asking price: $18 million
At this point, Hanks and Wilson's real estate portfolio is starting to look as impressive as his film resumé.
Keep in mind that this is a sprawling two-property listing that doesn't even include a four-bedroom, six-bathroom, 4,267 square foot home nearby that they aren't selling. Sure, Hanks occasionally parts with some of his collection, like the house that Wilson and he bought in 1988 for $1.9 million, but sold in 2013 for $5.2 million. But Wilson and he are also sitting on two other homes in the same Pacific Palisades neighborhood that they bought on the same day in 2010 for $27.45 million. They also have a vacation home in Malibu's Colony they bought for $2.95 million in 1991 from director John Frankenheimer, as well as smaller homes in Pacific Palisades and Idaho.
So why would unload these properties now? Well, for one, that $18 million represents a nice premium on the less than $13 million that Hanks and Wilson paid for the two of them in separate purchases in 2003 and 2007. The first, which the couple would sell on its own for $8.75 million if you asked nicely, is a four-bedroom, five-bathroom 3,930-square foot Spanish-style home on the Amalfi "rim" in the Palisades Riviera. The 1930s property sits on a half-acre, tree-filled lot and features beamed ceilings, wood floors, ironwork, tiles, a step-down living room with a fireplace, paneled formal dining room and a library/den.
The second property, which they'd sell independently for $9.25 million, is an enormous seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 7,260-square-foot 1957 the English Country-style home. Replete with hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, expansive hosting rooms, a formal dining room and a large pub/billiard room with a fireplace and wet bar. A master suite, two children's/guest suites, a fourth suite on the second floor, two first-floor suites and a maid's quarters all feed into a large playroom on a third level and a screening room/playroom/sports entertainment room.
Yes, we're aware of Hanks's affable public persona, but a career of blockbuster films and big endorsement deals have made Hanks and Wilson an industry unto themselves. Just consider that all of the properties above represent just a fraction of their investments, which seem to be doing very well in their own right.
4. Ashley Tisdale's Studio City setup
Asking price: $2.7 million
It's been ten years since High School Musical was released and eight years since the last HSM film (no, we aren't counting Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure). It's been seven years since Tisdale released her last full-length album and three since she dropped the charity single "You're Always Here."
Ashley Tisdale is still a Twitter and endorsement juggernaut, but it may be safe to say that -- barring some sort of reinvention or revival -- the peak of her career may has passed. So much so that it seems she's adding house flipping to her skill set, taking the newly built 5,000-square-foot Cape Cod (which seems oxymoronic) that she purchased for $2.5 million last year and selling it for $2.7 million. The five-bedroom, six-bathroom home on a 10,089-square-foot lot is gated, has an open floor plan, vaulted ceilings, large windows, five en-suite bedrooms and a master suite with a sitting area, fireplace, dual walk-in closets, and spa bath. It's as if a crew from one of HGTV's gut-job shows was given an unlimited budget, a bulletin board full of real estate buzzwords and the order to squeeze all of them under one roof.
From a kitchen with quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances and a breakfast area that that looks out onto the family room to a 90-inch projection screen, a saltwater pool and spa, a barbecue and a trellis-topped outdoor dining area, no expense was spared in building the Hollywood version of a suburban dream home.
3. Samantha Ronson's Santa Monica bungalow
Asking price: $1.4 million
A superstar DJ who rocks parties the size of small island nations owns a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,170-square-foot home dating back to 1925? Such is the life of Samantha Ronson.
Looking at the place, there isn't a smudge of celebrity on it. It's a little blue-and-white bungalow with some privacy fencing, sure, but it has a galley kitchen with a dining area just large enough to fit a picnic table. The master bedroom looks like a hallway, the master bathroom is a two-sink-and-shower affair, but the room Ronson clearly used as her own has brilliant floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the shaded backyard and its fire pit. Ronson has the room set up as a studio, but it has a ton of potential for anyone willing to pay the $590,000 markup on the $810,000 she originally paid for it in 2012.
It isn't quite as impressive as some of the other homes on this list, but it's a cozy, comfortable little slice of Santa Monica that must've been a great place to kick back between flights to gigs.
2. Eva Longoria's Mediterranean-style mansion
Asking price: $1.395 million
What's changed for Longoria since she bought this place for $1.15 million in 2005? Where to start?
Her gig of note on ABC's Desperate Housewives wrapped up in 2012 (or about four years later than it should have), her marriage to San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker ended in 2011, she got remarried to Jose Antonio Bastón last year and she's become active in both the Democratic party and as a voice for immigrants and migrant laborers.
She's also amassed a large portfolio of properties that includes a two-home, 2.5-acre Hollywood Hills compound that she bought from Tom Cruise for $11.4 million last year, another Hollywood Hills-area home that she bought in 2006 for $3.6 million and a property in her hometown of San Antonio that she's held on to since 2005.
So why is this property listed for less than, oh, Ronson's bungalow? We have no idea. Built in 1924, this three-bedroom, three-bathroom Mediterranean villa is tucked behind an iron gate high atop the Hollywood hills. With two stories above street level, the private, 2,011-square-foot property features a living room with a coved ceiling, a gourmet kitchen, and a bonus room with views of Los Angeles. The upstairs master bedroom has a shaded sleeping porch with sweeping views of the mountains. It seems like this place should be worth a lot more, but perhaps it's the price of moving on.
1. No, J-Lo never slept here
No, we didn't put Cris Judd's name in the description. Quite frankly, the choreographer and infrequent American Idol guest just doesn't really move the needle.
His ex-wife, Jennifer Lopez, is a far different story. She married Judd in 2001 after he directed her "Love Don't Cost A Thing" video but broke it off less than a year later. Bennifer, a marriage to Marc Anthony and a relationship with a former backup dancer later, it's safe to say Lopez has moved on. Judd, meanwhile, met his current wife in 2009 and is helping raise their 2-year-old daughter.
Judd bought this house for $620,000 in 2003 after divorcing Lopez, and this bungalow is remarkable for just how unremarkable it is. The kitchen has formica cabinetry, the 1,382 square feed somehow includes three bathrooms, the open floor plan just makes it look like a hollowed-out version of the 1920s gem it was and the back deck and yard can be described with one word: small. Its best feature is that it's just off the Sunset Strip. Its worst? It's going to take someone incredibly dedicated to restore it to even its modest glory and buff the brush-with-fame veneer off of it.