As I'm sure many of you know, after 90210 creator Aaron Spelling died, his wife Candy decided to downsize. She put her house on the market and moved into a $35 million 15,555 square foot condo, figuring it wouldn't be too long before the place sold. Unfortunately, at the end of 2008, not too many people were looking for homes that had names ("The Manor"), 57,000 square feet, rooms solely devoted to gift-wrapping and asking prices of $150 million. Though she was probably advised to knock a few zeros off, Candy, the little known inspiration for Heather Locklear's Melrose Place character, held her ground and refuse to budge on the price. Recently it started looking like the house that shows about teenagers getting high and humping built would never get sold, until a little lady named Petra Ecclestone swooped in and saved the day.
Petra, whose father is Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, needed a place to crash when she's in from London and deemed The Manor to her liking (she'll be "splitting her time between a six-story house in London's Chelsea neighborhood purchased for £56 million and Los Angeles after her planned August wedding to entrepreneur James Stunt").
If completed, the sale would underscore the importance of foreign buyers in the U.S. real-estate market. Earlier this year, Russian investor Yuri Milner bought a Silicon Valley home for $100 million, the highest-known price paid for a single-family home in the U.S. Russian composer Igor Krutoy and his wife, Olga, recently bought a condominium at New York's Plaza for $48 million. Overall, though, the real-estate market in the U.S. is struggling, with prices sinking to 2002 levels in the first quarter, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller National Index released earlier this month.
It wouldn't have to be this way, of course, if others thought to step up to the plate, like Petra did. For those of you skeptical about her contribution, she's got an income of her own (she launched a fashion line) and probably covered the broker fees. Not only that, but Petra gets to feel really good about her buy, since according to the National Association of Realtors, for every two homes sold (and The Manor counts for a few), a job is created, which was presumably her motivation all along. Who will follow her example?