When its finished in the spring, Nile Niami’s 100,000-square-foot mansion in Bel Air will be the largest – and possibly the most expensive – home in the country. Maybe even the world. The asking price for the home – which Niami has branded “the One”? $500 million.
With US home prices climbing to levels not seen in a decade, we’ve repeatedly highlighted signs of softness in the high-end real estate market – typically defined as homes worth $10 million or more – that some observers believe will spread to the broader market. What’s worse, the Trump tax plan includes deterrents to home-ownership like lowering the mortgage deduction that, combined with rising interest rates, will soon make it considerably more expensive for people to borrow to fund the purchase of lavish homes (that is, if the Fed ever reaches its long-term target of 3%, which, given lackluster inflation and wage pressures, is looking increasingly unlikely).
The shift has forced some would-be sellers in markets like Greenwich, Conn. to pull their inventory and wait until the market is more active.
But Niami says these principles don’t apply to the ultra-high-end market, where the world’s richest people purchase domiciles worth more than $100 million. Instead, limited supply and the unrelenting expansion of the billionaire class has made it a seller’s market.
And as one might expect, a The New York Times report about the film producer-turned-developer’s signature project is chock full of insane details like these:
Mr. Niami was giving a tour, and, unlike most home tours, this one started in the nightclub. It will have multiple bars, its own coat room and LED ceilings playing images of moving clouds. Beyond the floor-to-ceiling glass walls there is a swimming pool, along with panoramic views stretching to downtown Los Angeles and Century City.
The home is entering its fifth year of development. When finished this spring, it will be one of the largest private homes in America — 100,000 square feet — and, at an asking price of $500 million, will bill itself as the most expensive as well.
The property has 20 bedrooms. Seven of them are in a separate building for staff. The largest bedroom is a 5,500-square-foot master suite. It will have its own office, pool and kitchen; like the nightclub’s V.I.P. room, it is meant to be a private retreat from the rest of the house.
Niami’s vivid depiction of the type of buyer who might be interested in purchasing his masterwork sounds like a caricature of the Silicon Valley billionaires.
“Let’s say you’re a super-wealthy single dude who just sold your company,” said Nile Niami. “You’ve just moved to L.A. and you don’t know anybody, so you hire someone to fill your house with partyers. You want everyone to know who you are, but you don’t want to talk to anybody. So you go sit in your V.I.P. room."
Niami’s superhome will include many features that might prompt you to ask: Who would even want this? – including a commercial-size beauty salon and a lounge where the walls and ceilings are made of jellyfish aquariums.
Asked why, Niami reportedly shrugged and responded: “Because it’s cool."
While debating who might throw down half a billion dollars for the world’s largest house would be a fun parlor game, the sticker price is essentially a gimmick.
As the Times points out, most ultra-high-end houses with nine-figure price tags end up selling at a steep discount to the asking price.
Though, of course, whoever buys it will probably end up paying an arm and a leg for their fire insurance policy.
Mr. Niami could still make a hefty profit if the property sells for well under $500 million, which seems like the plan. Most homes with record-breaking asking prices have sold for significant discounts. The Playboy Mansion, for example, was listed for $200 million and sold for $100 million in 2016.
The only question now is which enterprising bitcoin billionaire – or foreign oligarch – will snap up this prime piece of real estate.