• Despite their sky-high prices, the buying and selling of celebrity homes can teach the average buyer and agents some valuable lessons.
  • Location is everything, and over-improving a house can make it harder to sell.
  • Celebrities spend thousands on experts and interior designers, but anyone can find inspiration and replicate the looks for less.

Behind the gilded gates that protect celebrity real estate, you’ll likely find some seriously A-list amenities, such as resort-style pools, million-dollar movie theaters and parking for 20 cars.

What might surprise you is that despite 20,000 square feet, there’s a lot any homebuyer or seller can learn from the real estate habits of the rich and famous.

Agents can use A-list homes as strategic, high-visibility examples to illustrate important real estate lessons to their buyers or sellers.

1. Location is everything

Location, location, location is a catchphrase for a reason — it’s incredibly true. On the West Coast, celebrities all cluster in places such as Beverly Hills, Bel Air and the Hollywood Hills because it’s the primo location in the Los Angeles area.

Not only are the homes ultra-luxurious and the market has healthy resale value, but it’s also close to the studios where they work daily. Long commutes are a real drag, even if you have a driver.

In those spots, celebs have the convenient location, as well as enough space to give them the privacy they so desperately need when living in the limelight 24/7.

2. When in doubt, rent

Many celebrities know what the average American should do about the rent-versus-buy debate. If you’re not going to be able to stay in the same place for five to seven years — rent, don’t buy.

Celebrities have high-paid experts to guide them in these types of decisions, but it’s likely they’re getting the same advice that applies to anyone: If your job is unstable, you’re just reeling from a recent divorce or your job might take you elsewhere in the near future, consider renting until life stabilizes and you can firmly plant roots.

3. Sometimes you can do too much

It’s a common real estate adage not to “over-improve for the neighborhood,” which means don’t make your house so much nicer than your neighbors that it becomes overvalued for the neighborhood.

When appraisers compare comps, it will never stack up, and money might be lost. A lot of celebrities learn this the hard way when they trick out their pads for their own high-priced tastes.

A movie theater that costs more than a million bucks might wow a movie-industry entourage, but future buyers might not see — or pay for — the value of that custom room.

Understand that upgrades can be done for lifestyle benefits, but if they’re way fancier than the rest of the neighborhood or the tastes of majority of buyers, it might not bring monetary gains, come sale time.

4. Trust your home to the experts

If you do make upgrades, trust your home to the experts, just like celebrities do. If you think it’s costly to hire an expert, just wait till you have to correct the work of a low-cost amateur or your own DIY snafus.

Tradesmen and women who have been working on projects like yours for years are a good bang for your buck because they’re skilled and experienced and guarantee their work.

Nobody knows the best contractors and others tradespeople than a local agent who is a bonafide neighborhood expert. It’s a great place for buyers and sellers to start.

5. Learn from high-priced design talent

Stars have the dollars to drop on the hottest interior designers to perfect their homes from top to bottom. Even if you don’t, it doesn’t mean their six-or-seven-figure expenditures can’t benefit you.

With so many celebrities opening their homes to design magazines and online outlets such as Domaine, InStyle and others, you can see the latest trends in high-end home decor and let your imagination run wild on how to apply the same principles on a real-world budget.

6. Buy with the future in mind

If an A-lister is expecting a new baby, you can bet you’ll see a moving van in front of her mansion. Celebrities love to move when they expand their families.

You’ll often read about a very pregnant celebrity moving out of a long-time bachelor or bachelorette pad into something much more family-friendly before the stork arrives.

Moves can be costly, time-consuming and expensive, so you can learn from celebrities by not doing what they do. Don’t buy for your life now, buy for your life five years from now.

If kiddos are in the cards, buy the family house you can afford now that would still fit a growing family in five years. Or, buy a condo in the city if you know your life with be centered around urban living for the foreseeable future. Planning ahead will enhance your lifestyle for years to come.

Cristin Culver is the Head of Public Relations at OpenHouse. You can follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Email Cristin Culver.

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