The latest in celebrity swag? Real estate. There’s no formula to determine the ratio of US Weekly covers to square-foot discounts. However, it’s safe to say that what’s good for gift bags is also good for beachfront condos: if you can get some celebrity love at a price, you’ll make more sales to the hoi polloi.
“In Malibu, whether you’re in real estate development or opening a restaurant, it’s all about the buzz,” says Ed Easley, president-CEO of Crown Pacific Properties and developer of 68-unit condominium development Villa Malibu, which hit the market last weekend. His target: boldface names who seek a second home but can’t quite swing a beachfront mortgage.
Toward that end, Easley enlisted Joe Babajian, the Prudential California Realty Estate Properties broker with a client list that runs from Barbra Streisand to Warren Beatty.
Russ Filice, a Realtor for Sotheby’s who specializes in the Sunset Strip, says, “We don’t offer discounts to anyone.” However, he acknowledges that, for others, luring famous faces has its place.
“When you have a new development and a lot of product to sell, getting a celebrity in there helps,” he says.
But at what price? According to a Villa Malibu rep, for entertainment industry celebrities and executives, “we will work on a one-on-one basis to create custom, individualized incentive packages.”
Whether that means double-digit discounts or a free security system may have much to do with the currency of the household name. “If people say, ‘So-and-so lives here,’ it gives a property more credibility, whether you’re talking about a neighborhood, street or a development,” says Babajian.
Some developers decry the idea of enticing high-profile buyers. “They’re the ones who can afford to pay full price,” says Kimberly Lucero, VP sales and marketing at Kor Development, developers of the Broadway Hollywood and Eastern Columbia buildings. “As long as their financial advisors tell them it’s a good investment, they’re not overly concerned. Their privacy is more important.”
Those developers who can afford to forgo sucking up to celebrities are the equivalent of boutiques without sale racks.
“There’s no reason to offer incentives,” says Filice, leasing agent of the paparazzi-infested Sierra Towers. “Everyone wants to own in it, even if they don’t live there. Lindsay Lohan owns there, but she doesn’t live there — she just parks her cars.”