Julia Roberts sold her Greenwich Village apartment for $850,000 over the asking price after only four months on the market, while Demi Moore’s San Remo penthouse remains on the market two years later.
Does a celebrity’s status help or hinder estate sales, and do certain celebrities have more real estate cachet than others?
Darren Weiner, currently the managing director of Douglas Elliman Sports and Entertainment division and formerly a sports and entertainment agent, thinks the cachet of being a celebrity does not enhance the value of a property. In fact, he said, it can possibly hurt it.
“Oftentimes, celebrities or athletes will customize or ‘over-improve’ their homes too much, which could be a detriment when they try to sell. People are astute; they know value. They are not going to overpay because someone famous owned the property before,” Weiner said.
Weiner admits that a celebrity’s status might augment the attention a property gets. “If their celebrity status attracts more eyes and awareness to that property, eventually, would that property be seen by a potential buyer who might not have known about it or realized the property was on the market?”
Yael Dunsky, owner of Yael Dunsky Real Estate, believes that celebrity status helps with marketing. “I don’t think most people will buy a place just because the celebrity lived there,” Dunsky said.
“However, more buyers will come and see the listing; and the more traffic you have, the more likely you are to sell and get the highest price possible. Also, the celebrity status gets press, thus providing free marketing both nationally and internationally reaching a larger pool of potential buyers. As brokers, we are looking for qualified buyers, not just fans.”
Unfortunately, that has not been the case yet for Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s TriBeCa loft penthouse.
The consciously uncoupled pair put their apartment on the market in March of this year, lowered the price from $14.25 million to $12.85 million and still have yet to find a buyer despite the fact that Paltrow offered her Goop website followers a series of photographs taken inside her cloud-like pad.
The extra attention did not translate into an offer, even though Goop’s Twitter account has 80,400 followers and many media publications picked it up, including Vanity Fair and Elle magazines.
Dunsky said that many times it’s not known that a unit belongs to a celebrity. “I have shown many apartments over the years that turned out were celebrity apartments, but it was on the down low, and the listing brokers did not mention it. I usually heard it through the real estate grapevine.”
Mindy Brill, a broker at Yael Dunsky, recently found a buyer for Parker Posey’s 5th Avenue apartment in three months. It was public knowledge that the unit belonged to Posey, mostly because Posey actually posed in one of the listing photos.
Real estate is a tricky business, and brokers will do what they can to make a property stand out.
But, as always, pricing and timing are everything. Demi Moore’s penthouse is listed at $59 million, down from the original asking price of $79 million.
With the highest end of the Manhattan real estate slowing down, it can’t help Moore’s selling prospects. Similarly, Tommy Hilfiger cannot offload his $68.95 million property at One Central Park South (The Plaza), which he has been trying to sell since 2013 and recently took off the market again.
The current state of the market isn’t stopping Johnny Depp from putting his previously unsold South of France compound on the market for more than twice as much as it was listed last time (original listing price was $26 million, now it is $50 million).
Weiner did have a “one off-experience” of a buyer who told him that if a specific athlete ever put his house on the market, that buyer wanted to be the first to know. “I got the feeling it was a collection of his. Young boys collect baseball cards; he collected athletes’ homes.”
Although celebrity status might generate attention, it seems that unless you have a very avid fan, it will not make or break a sale.