Already a household name in Los Angeles’ luxury real estate market, Gary Gold is taking on new responsibilities as director of sales for The Malibu Series — 15 modern homes ranging between $20 million and $130 million that developer Scott Gillen is building for the high-end beach enclave. The Case, a private community of five neighboring homes, will start at $70 million.
With names such as “The Where, The Why, The What and The Who,” the homes are being constructed in a modern coastal style and will appear on the market over the next year. Some, like “The New Castle,” will be listed on the MLS in the coming weeks.
“Interestingly enough, recessions and the real estate market do not line up parallel with each other,” said Gold, who recently sold the Chartwell Estate for $150 million and previously broke records for the $100 million sale of the Playboy Mansion. “There are several reasons real estate’s so hot right now but the number one is that houses intrinsically become more valuable today than they were yesterday.”
Inman sat down with Gold to chat about the Malibu market and his confidence in the current climate. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Inman News: Tell us about the Malibu Series. What will it look like?
Gary Gold: There are currently five properties that [Gillen] is developing all at once over at The Case. Normally, developers do one or two at a time. We haven’t priced them all yet but we’re thinking they’re going to start at $70 million and then go up to around $130 million. Imagine five homes on 24 acres of the most epic site you can imagine in Malibu. We’re building five one-story homes, from two to six acres, in this development behind gates right in the heart of Malibu. When I saw this, I went, ‘This is it.’ If I was ever going to top what I’ve done already, this was it.
Why was the choice made to build the houses all at once?
Who wants to buy $70 million house and not know what a neighboring property is going to look like? Who will want to bother with the construction? It will happen sometimes and people tolerate it but it’s not preferred. [Gillen] decided to build everything at once. These homes are two to six acres so they’re not necessarily next door to each other but everything is relative. He’s doing all of them at once and we have five homes [The Case Residences] going on the market collectively.
Do these developments fall into what luxury buyers need and want right now?
Malibu has always been desirable but now people are looking to move out, have more space, and be near the ocean. This has a little bit of everything. You don’t have many gated communities in Malibu but you’ve got this gate-guarded area that’s super secure, you’ve got these views that are unbelievable even though it’s 24 acres. You do have neighboring properties but you really don’t see each other. And these are all one-story houses. They’re all one level and a one-level home has a certain elegance and flow to it.
Is the market ready for so many expensive homes at once?
It’s interesting. Over the last 15-20 years, the trend has been to move from the suburbs and into the city. From the 1950s and 1960s and up until the 1990s, people were moving out to the suburbs and then around 2007 being close to the city started becoming more desirable. Then literally overnight, people are wanting to move away again for several reasons. The pandemic definitely accelerated that process but it’s also triggered by the fact that it’s not that important for a lot of people to go to an office anymore. They can live wherever they want. I’m not an expert in New York City but prices and demand for these high-rise buildings appear to have decreased significantly. Los Angeles has become desirable during this pandemic because it’s probably the only city in the world where you can get a big piece of property. In most places you’ll be living in very close quarters with the same income that you make living here.
What is the profile of the buyer you expect to buy these homes as they hit the market?
I have a feeling they’re going to be wealthy. [Laughs.] I am almost sure of that. Malibu is not exclusive to families or people that are single. None of that really matters. You’re going to have people who buy second homes. There will be people’s primary homes, there will be people who have kids and those who want a house for their grandkids. If you buy a house in Malibu, you can pretty much guarantee that your grandchildren and your kids will come visit but it’s also a very happening place to be if you’re single or coupled up. It’s a community that appeals to all of that. Once people move to Malibu, they don’t want to leave. Ever.
So far the demand for luxury real estate has not been too affected by the pandemic and the recession. Are you confident this will continue even amid the scary news headlines?
Interestingly enough, recessions and the real estate market do not line up parallel with each other. They never have. In the last six recessions we’ve had, only one of them negatively impacted real estate and that was in 2008, because it was caused by real estate. In every other recession we’ve had in the last 30 years, real estate continued to go up. Prices are driven by separate financial situations, sometimes opposite ones.
There are several reasons real estate’s so hot right now but the number one is that houses intrinsically become more valuable today than they were yesterday. I mean, that’s just undeniable. I knew the market was going to get hot after things normalized and people just got back to life regardless of the situation. I knew that was inevitable because there was and still is such a shortage. Houses have now become way more important to people.