Saturday, January 19, 2008

UPDATE: Joe Babajian

By now, everyone who pays any attention to the Los Angeles real estate scene knows that former real estate agents to the rich and famous Joe Babajian and his bizness partner Kyle Grasso were indicted all all sorts of lurid charges of fraud and money laundering. They have been relieved of their vaunted positions at Prudential and currently await their trial, scheduled for July, unless some sort of plea agreement is reached.

Ever since his real estate shit hit the media fan, ol' JoeBabs has been trying to unload his fully renovated Bev Hills home located in the swanky hills of Trousdale Estates. First dropped on the market at $6,995,000, the price was quickly lowered to $6,985,000, a paltry and laughable reduction at best. However, JoeBabs must be serious about shedding his high priced digs now, because Your Mama notes that the asking price has recently been hacked all the way down to $6,595,000 in one fell swoop of the price cutting machete.

Public records show that Mister Babajian paid $1,350,013 for the house in September of 2000, but given ol' JoeBabs alleged sale price tinkering, it's a bit difficult to know if that is the amount he really paid for the 3,443 square foot, 3 bedroom and 3.5 bathroom house. He obviously spent a small fortune renovating the place, but somehow Your Mama thinks JoeBabs will come out flush even with this price chop. And he better hope so, because he's retained a very expensive attorney who will cost an arm and a leg whether JoeBabs wins or loses his uphill battle with the law.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

What idiot would pay 6.5 MILLION for what is essentially a 3 bedroom track house in a fancy zip code.

Lucy said...

Let's talk about the putt-putt golf strip of grass around the pool...

It just seems like someone was trying too hard.

so_chic_darling said...

You could also say what idiot would pay 50 million or 100 million for a painting.If the rich want something that is in limited supply,for example certain zip codes and views,they will pay.The kind of person who buys this will not be bothered by the price tag trust me.
I love it,unfurnished please.

pch said...

I'm gonna respectfully disagree with So Chic and say I think you can do a lot better for $6.6 million, even if you have money to burn.

There are a lot of supercool houses in Trousdale, but a fair number were pretty unremarkable to start with...this is one of them. The interior spaces seem clunky and inelegantly arranged, as do many of the exterior lines and proportions.

The "update" doesn't do it any favors. At least he didn't slap on some columns, a portico and a cornice, but that muddy stucco and Home Depot sliding doors make the rear facade look like a bad DIY remodel in the Valley. Also, I'm not feeling a paint palette that seems to clash with the tones of the wood trim and veneers. Basically, some expensive, not-so-great changes to an expensive, not-so-great house.

Anonymous said...

I'm with PCH. I remember the first timne I went to a home in the Trousdale Estates. I was very excited because it had been whispered to me what an exclusive and lovely area it was.

It was an exclusive area of tract homes. I was so incredibly underwhelmed.

I had the exact same reaction when I went to Palos Verdes, yet another one of our more overrated areas. Outside of the greenery and the ocean view, the architecture of the homes is, (generalizing here!), so incredibly generic.

sandpiper said...

I'm with PCH too. Unremarkable says it all.

so_chic, I have an earnest question, and would love to get your take. Seems this place lacks personality more than anything. If you started with it empty, what would you do?

so_chic_darling said...

First I would paint all the painted surfaces white.I like the wood panel walls and the white marble though.
I just hate all the "Bloomigdales modern" furniture in there now.I would fill it with a mix of centuries,continents and context,add color with my collection of furniture and objects that I have been building since I was old enough to go to my first auction with Mummy and Daddy Darling.

so_chic_darling said...

I am talking about many many years ago when at small town auctions you could really find true treasures for a song.Not Christies children!

look at that dreadful chair said...

OK if I have to pick one then it's the stainless steel piece of junk by the pool.I say let it heat up in the LA sun then invite Posh over for a poolside rest.

Anonymous said...

This place really isn't overpriced - It's pretty much in line with others in the area.

sandpiper said...

so_chic_darling,

That is an amazing vision. Couldn't pinpoint my problem with the interior. Now seeing this one in a totally new light!

So glad I asked.

luke220 said...

If it's not overpriced then why hasn't it sold?

house of cards said...

recession,Luke220 that's why.

lil' gay boy said...

We pretty much trashed this home thoroughly the first time around, with its cold, corporate bank lobby look; sure some of the finishes are high quality, and there are some clean, spare architectural aspects to it, but from what I understand of the area, the main attraction is the views, not the neighborhood per se.

So_Chic, love your vision for this place, although I might inject a wall or two of color for a little splash of fun. Fill it with an eclectic mix of fin-de-siecle and debut-de-siecle pieces and call it home.

PCH, I guess the East Coast hasn't cornered the market on faux columns, fake pediments and awful stucco quoins from what you're saying - thank God! You would not believe some of the lovely old estates here on Long Island that have been transformed by huge swathes of tract homes like these of such monstrous proportions in the last decade; and then with all these stunningly vile features they get classified as a "Center Hall Colonial?!?" when the only thing remotely colonial is the vulgarly out-sized fanlight over the front door.

Case in point: William Paley's old estate, Kiluna Farm (right behind Jock & Betsey Whitney's Greentree - Babe Paley was Betsey's sister) languished in the courts for years before they bulldozed the historic, Pulitzer built home and gardens and replaced it with a cluster of laughably expensive McMansions ($3m- $5M range) that look like Home Despot showcases. And these don't even have a view that could compare with Trousdale Estates, although they sit on tiny parcels of land as well.

Well, it's all come crashing down now as half these homes still stand empty years later; the money's dried up, many are in foreclosure, and now the price must be paid - a half populated mini ghost town behind its security gates that is called Stone Hill, and is about as warm and inviting as it sounds.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 11:34 and house of cards, the price is pretty ridiculous considering some of the recent sales. for example, last year, the groucho marx estate sold for just over 4.5. that house had a lot more to offer; cutsom built by wallace neff for marx, over 6000 sq ft (compared to about 3500 here) of living space on a lot about twice the size of this one, with better views, and on a more desirable street. granted, it wasn't as fresh as this house is, but still, a persian renovation isn't worth 2 million more.

Anonymous said...

His name is Armenian not Persian,a real Persian renovation would involve dozens of crystal chandeliers and marble columns.

Anonymous said...

pardon me, an armenian renovation isn't worth 2 million

lil' gay boy said...

Apart from generating the funding needed for this Armenian renovation, what I don't understand is what motivated this former top-seller to the stars to be so foolish and get so greedy that he'd get involved in such a scheme in the first place . . .

If this is all he has to show for it, it's an even sadder story than it could have been.

Sandpiper said...

Little buddy...
I'm with you on the tragedy of demolishing these grand estates. Seems price per square foot is the operative these days. Eliminating what once stood on those grounds tugs at me. Not only on LI, but wherever they have been compromised for the love of land. Granted, many fell into disrepair, but that does not constitute a wrecking ball; only to be repopulated by McMansions.

Can't go there. Too sad.

luke220 said...

Maybe the seller is too accustomed to jacking up values to recognize the true worth of his property. PS it's worth what someone is willing to pay.

lil' gay boy said...

I'm with you, Sandpiper - when I look at architects' portfolios of homes no longer standing and gaze at those wonderful black & white photos of those grand estates in their heyday, I could just cry.

Fortunately, there are several examples here that have been wonderfully preserved and open to the public; I love to spend a long, lazy afternoon roaming their grounds and imagining what living in such splendor must have been like . . . certainly more gracious than today.

pch said...

LGB, you ain't seen nothin' 'til you've seen someone try to turn a sleek Jetsons modern into a Greek temple.

Whoever mentioned the Marx/Neff house (1083 N. Hillcrest Road), that's exactly what I had in mind when I meant there were better ways to spend your money. Probably the best architectural cred in the development, largely original (what isn't can be easily reversed), lots of super-swank potential and a large motorcourt in front. Plus the aforementioned lot and house size. Way better and way cheaper than the Babajian place.

Speaking of which, I swung by Carla Ridge this afternoon and the house is singularly unimpressive. It's not very high up the hill, so the view might not be as intense as it gets. The street presence is negligible. The neighboring houses aren't all that swell. And it barely has a driveway so guests get to negotiate the steep road in their heels.

Let me put it this way -- it's a tricked out Hyundai that's priced like a BMW.

luke220 said...

I guess the seller isn't too motivated yet.

Anonymous said...

Here's the sad truth about LA Real estate:
If he keeps it on the market long enough, someone will buy it. there's a sucker born every minute, an asshole for every seat, etc. etc.
PS. There are no old gems in this neighborhood - even if you love mid century architecture Trousdale was and is TACKY, TACKY, TACKY. Back in my day it was filled with big haired ladies in pale yellow cadilacs and now it is filled with Persian families that appreciate columns and gay men, who appreciate swaggy curtains.

Jaded Old Queen said...

Oh baby swaggy curtains went out with Judy Garland,we don't DO curtains!

lil' gay boy said...

Amazing, isn't it?

How so of the most gorgeous real estate can be positively subsumed by the most mediocre architecture, all in the name of the almighty dollar?

pch said...

7:39, I don't think it's fair to dismiss the whole of Trousdale as tacky. It has more than its share of bad mid-century design, but there are definitely some stand-outs. (409 Drury Lane, for instance, is sick.) And many of the houses that fall into the "mediocre" category can be vastly improved with the right tweaks. This should be encouraged.

Yes, you get to deal with the bizarre pseudo-formal makeovers beloved of those who fled with the Shah...but, let's face it, that's true of any neighborhood in Beverly Hills. And gay neighbors are great -- can't see the harm there, whatever their taste in drapes.

lil' gay boy said...

Or lack thereof . . .

Anonymous said...

Can we make it a law that air ducts of all kinds and light switches be painted the same color as the walls? All I see in the master, OK besides that weird wall thingy, is the air duct above the bed. Ugleeee.


Making a left out of the driveway will surely result in a t-boning.

The Hollywood Mayor said...

I went to Burt Reynold's home in Trousdale and was very impressed... while it needed a makeover, it had an amazing layout and tranquility to it. Did anyone see that house?

Anonymous said...

well I live in Trousdale estates down the street and one street over from this house. I love it here. yes Trousdale was marketed as tract housing for the rich in the 1960's when many of the homes were built. But many of them, actually most, including mine were custom homes built and designed by individuals who purchased the land and then abided by the design rules that govern the area- single story only and no higher than 16 foot roof lines. It's a great neighborhood with a private patrol service, gorgeous views, big homes, and nice large lots.

Polly said...

And that's how it is folks.Always listen to the locals.

Anonymous said...

This house isn't that bad, though the kitchen needs more light, and, yeah, stainless steel outdoor lounge had better be sculpture because no one could possibly sit in that. This seems like a no frills, decent place. The decor is fine for staging, but some midcentury modern stuff will look great in there. I do think it is overpriced, but someone will pay some millions for it. No doubt.

lil' gay boy said...

Let's be honest, here.

The house is not truly awful, and given the the provenance of the area it's a cut above the average home on the block, as one can see from the aerial photos.

If it wasn't for the notorious shenanigans of the current owner, it would barely raise an eyebrow.

Neither perfect nor Satan-ass ugly, it's a home that has some verve and a lot of potential; and isn't that what a prospective buyer is looking for?

pch said...

Hey LGB. I agree with you that, with some work, this house has potential. But I think it's too limited to justify a price anywhere near what Babajian is asking. If only for the fact that this stretch of Carla Ridge has remarkably small building pads. And when you're talking about this much bread, it's the land you're paying for. Babajian, however, seems to be placing value in a renovation that doesn't come close to compensating for the property's fundamental shortcomings.

Other houses currently on the market use the majority of their half-acre for things like more square footage, off-street parking and lawns:

1880 Carla Ridge is listed at $6.9 million -- almost 6,000 square feet, a semi-circular driveway, a large lawn with a pool, a relatively flat stretch of the street. Drawback: You have to undo a Persian-style makeover.

535 Leslie Lane is listed at $6 million -- renovated 4,400 square feet, large motorcourt, a large lawn with a pool. Drawback: Views are limited.

Now if it turns out that the Babajian views somehow put all the other Trousdale views to shame, I'll reconsider my opinion. But as we saw with the fellow who plunked down $35 million for the Cage place across the harbor, not everyone shares my criteria...and it might be just what a prospective buyer is looking for.

lil' gay boy said...

PCH, it obviously is way too overpriced, especially when you consider the amount of money the prospective buyer will have to spend to "de-JoeBab" it.

The sliver of the view you can see in one of the photos looks promising, but I for one would want more than just a flimsy wall separating my pool from the street . . .

Anonymous said...

Trousdale estates is a beautiful area with stunning views of beverly hills and los angeles. It is a part of the prestigous city of Beverly Hills, and has right to the award winning school district. The homes are situated on a hill so therefore the Beverly Hills law states that all homes in Beverly Hills Trousdale Estates must be 1 story unless granted a special permit. The homes are NOT tract homes they all have a unique floor plan.