Why Brentwood Real Estate is Thriving; $12 Million Frank Gehry House For Sale

July 7, 2011

The tony enclave, a showbiz stronghold, is showing resilience compared to Beverly Hills and Bel-Air as bold-faced names buy and sell.

To get a sense of the state of the Brentwood housing market, one need only consider the activity on a single exclusive street in the neighborhood: North Carmelina Avenue.

There, Broadway producer Jon Platt (The Book of Mormon, Wicked) has listed his Frank Gehry-designed house for $11.995 million, film producer Gerald Leider (Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen) has put his ranch-style residence on the market at $6.85 million, and Maria Shriver in July bought a house not far from Arianna Huffington's.

And there are other significant recent transactions: Producer Michael Nelson bought a home on Oakmont Drive for $12.2 million in June, and former MySpace chairman Richard Rosenblatt paid $26 million in February for a 10-bedroom Tuscan mansion in Brentwood Country Estates that is next door to a 22,000-square-foot megamansion being built by quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Meanwhile, biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, who owns a minority stake in the Los Angeles Lakers, continues work on the construction of a massive three-acre compound off of San Vicente Boulevard.

"There is definitely more energy in the market -- our phones are ringing," says Mary Lu Tuthill of Coldwell Banker, who along with daughter Kathleen Tuthill has the Leider listing and represented the sellers in the Nelson and Rosenblatt transactions.

After taking a pounding during the recession, Brentwood has rebounded in 2011, outperforming Bel-Air and the 90210 section of Beverly Hills in June -- both in terms of the number of homes sold and median price. Of the three, Brentwood was the only one that saw its median price increase year-over-year, from $1.37 million in June 2010 to $1.56 million in June 2011, good for a 14 percent improvement, according to data from real estate analytics company HomeData Corp.

Brentwood has a key geographic advantage over some other high-end neighborhoods (from Hancock Park to Holmby Hills) that entertainment business players might cross-shop: its proximity to countless showbiz and music companies that call Santa Monica and West L.A. home. Companies such as Hulu, Imax, MTV Networks and Lionsgate Entertainment all maintain offices not far from Brentwood.

"People who work over there like to live west of the 405 [Freeway] so that they can get to work," says Stephen Shapiro, chairman of brokerage Westside Estate Agency.

Although largely known for its ranch-style properties and what Shapiro terms a "rustic, country feel," Brentwood isn't without its megamansions and prestige architectural homes.

Brentwood Country Estates, a gated community off of Mandeville Canyon Road, is anything but rustic. It is already home to Heidi Klum and Seal, who paid $14.2 million for a foreclosed mansion in December, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it will soon count Rosenblatt (now head of Demand Media) and Brady and Bundchen as residents. The enclave is favored for its privacy and, perhaps above all, views that are "stunning, just incredible," says John Finton of Finton Construction, who is said to be handling the remodel of the Rosenblatt house. (Finton declined to comment on the matter.)

And then on the architectural side of the market is the Gehry home that Tony winner Platt has listed for sale. Known as the Schnabel House --- named for its original owners, former U.S. Ambassador Rockwell Schnabel and his wife, Marna -- the home is considered to be among Gehry's finest residential designs. The half-acre property features a collection of four structures, reflecting pond and lap pool. "We have too much interest," says Jeff Hyland of brokerage Hilton & Hyland, who shares the listing with Rick Hilton and Aaron Kirman. Hyland says the property has attracted interest from Hollywood players "behind and in front of the camera."

But the home has been reduced in price from the $13 million that Platt was asking when it was listed in March -- suggesting that even if Brentwood is outpacing the competition, the halcyon days of fevered bidding wars and ever-escalating asking prices remain a distant memory.

Says Juliette Hohnen of brokerage Teles Properties, "I think people are just more careful with their money."                 

Brentwood By the Numbers
The Brentwood market has, in recent months, performed better than the competition. Here's a look at how it stacked up sales-wise against Bel-Air and the 90210 section of Beverly Hills in June 2011 vs. June 2010. (Sales volume data is from the Multiple Listing Service; median sales price data from HomeData Corp.)

Brentwood, 90049

  • June 2011: 28 homes sold | $1.56 million (median sales price)
  • June 2010: 29 homes sold | $1.37 million (median sales price)

Beverly Hills, 90210

  • June 2011: 23 homes sold | $1.72 million (median sales price)
  • June 2010: 20 homes sold | $1.89 million (median sales price)

Bel-Air, 90077

  • June 2011: 17 homes sold | $1.14 million (median sales price)
  • June 2010: 12 homes sold | $1.68 million (median sales price)

The Agents to Know in Brentwood
To determine the enclave's top agents, THR examined the 100 biggest Brentwood transactions during the past 18 months and tallied which listing agents had sold the most homes. This is the rundown, ranked by transaction count, with the total dollar amount of those deals. (Data is from the Multiple Listing Service.)

David Offer
13 Sales: $58 million

Mary Lu and Kathleen Tuthill
Coldwell Banker
7 Sales: $64 million

F. Ron Smith
Partners Trust
4 Sales: $13 million

Myra Nourmand
Nourmand & Associates
3 Sales: $21 million

Jan Horn
Coldwell Banker
3 Sales: $15 million


Twitter: @DanielNMiller