The Power is Now

The wildest California real estate deals of 2022 – SFGATE

2022 saw a welcome shift in the real estate market for your average San Francisco buyer. Gone were way over-listed prices and two-week escrows. Power returned to the buyer, as tech layoffs and rising interest rates cooled the craziness of the market of recent years. But the year also saw some very unusual listings across the Bay Area and state that caught our eye at SFGATE, including a megastar’s clifftop castle, a house built around a bug-filled oak tree and one very strange room.

In July, a home perched above the rolling hills in Placerville, California, hit the market for around $1 million and immediately caused a stir on the internet.

The 4,400-square-foot, three-bed house at first appeared like many other 1970s hillside homes, but it had one bizarre feature — a giant 2,000-square-foot stark white warehouse lined with seemingly endless shelving, simply named “The Room.”

7652 Kona Court in Placerville, Calif., garnered attention on Twitter due to one of its rooms.

7652 Kona Court in Placerville, Calif., garnered attention on Twitter due to one of its rooms.

Navigate Realty

After the listing was shared on the popular Zillow Gone Wild Twitter account, users were both intrigued and concerned. Some compared it to the home in the psychological thriller “The Handmaiden” or the trophy room in “Dexter: New Blood.” One user drew attention to the metal door leading to “The Room,” which appears to lock from the outside. 

We needed to know more, so we spoke with listing agent Kelli Griggs of Navigate Realty.

“It was an elderly woman who loved stuff,” Griggs revealed. “There were over 25,000 books, 2,000 DVDs, 2,000 VHS. Everything was new in its box.”

One of the rooms at 7652 Kona Court in Placerville, Calif., is a 2,000-square-foot warehouse lined with shelving.

One of the rooms at 7652 Kona Court in Placerville, Calif., is a 2,000-square-foot warehouse lined with shelving.

Navigate Realty

Griggs said it took nine months to remove “all the stuff” from the home after the owner died. “She was a collector of all things,” Griggs added. “Shopping apparently gave her great pleasure. It was very tidy and organized and neat. It wasn’t full. It was in anticipation of filling the space, it brought her great joy. It was the craziest thing.”

In the end, the eerie room didn’t completely turn off buyers — records show 7652 Kona Court sold for $750,000 in November. 

Brad Pitt pays $40 million for a clifftop castle

This past summer, one of the biggest movie stars on Earth paid a cool $40 million for a historic clifftop home on the California coast. 

The actor purchased the iconic D.L. James House, hanging over the bluffs in the Carmel Highlands, in a July deal described as “one of the priciest ever closed in the Carmel area” by the Wall Street Journal

The “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” star is known for his love of architecture, once revealing, “whilst acting is my career, architecture is my passion.” 

The Mediterranean-style castle was built a century ago by famed Arts and Crafts architect Charles Greene to resemble Tintagel in Cornwall, England — the medieval fortress where King Arthur was conceived, so the legend goes. 

The D.L. James House, which Brad Pitt bought in July for $40 million, was built to resemble King Arthur's legendary birthplace, Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, England. 

The D.L. James House, which Brad Pitt bought in July for $40 million, was built to resemble King Arthur’s legendary birthplace, Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, England. 

Wikimedia Commons

The granite and sandstone castle is the latest addition to Pitt’s properties, which include the reportedly haunted Briarcliff Manor in Los Angeles. Pitt bought the mansion from Cassandra Peterson, better known as horror hostess Elvira.

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Bay Area’s ‘Western White House’ sells for $10 million under asking

One of the grandest estates, in one of the wealthiest enclaves in the country, sold in September for “only” $15 million — $10 million under asking — after spending a year on the market

The 25,000-square-foot, 24-room mansion stands on almost 3 acres of land at 401 El Cerrito Ave. in Hillsborough. After a fire severely damaged it in the 1920s, the huge home was remodeled by famed architect Julia Morgan at the behest of George Hearst to resemble the White House. Morgan had previously designed the even more opulent Hearst Castle for Hearst’s father, William Randolph Hearst.

The "Western White House" in Hillsborough, Calif., sold in September for $15 million — $10 million under asking.

The “Western White House” in Hillsborough, Calif., sold in September for $15 million — $10 million under asking.

Danny Chung

The exterior was a shift for Morgan away from her famed wood and stone elevated Craftsman homes. Its Georgian Colonial design echoes Washington’s White House, as do its cherry trees and its Oval Office-like library. 

The building’s interior features an abundance of marble and silk. The home’s four floors are served by both dramatic staircases and an elevator. Hanging from the ceilings are three cut-glass chandeliers. According to real estate expert Bradley Inman, Morgan even cut a trap door in the third floor above the formal dining room so that workers could raise and lower the chandelier to clean it.

Penthouse apartment in iconic Oakland flatiron building sells

Triangular flatiron buildings, typically found where two downtown thoroughfares meet, often evoke Manhattan, specifically the original flatiron on Broadway and Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Here in the Bay Area, the most famous example is probably the copper-green Sentinel Building, home to Francis Ford Coppola’s film company American Zoetrope, on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco.

But the region’s most ornate flatiron architecture sits across the bay in Oakland, where two of the East Bay’s busiest streets collide. In October, the uniquely shaped two-story triangular penthouse apartment and its private roof deck atop 1615 Broadway sold for $1.62 million. 

The penthouse apartment in Oakland's "Cathedral Building" at 1615 Broadway sold in October for $1.62 million.

The penthouse apartment in Oakland’s “Cathedral Building” at 1615 Broadway sold in October for $1.62 million.

Coldwell Banker

Built in 1914, the gothic chateau-esque flatiron has been watching over the spot where Broadway and Telegraph Avenue meet for more than a century. 

During the ’60s and ’70s, the bottom floor of the Cathedral Building was home to one of the Bay Area’s most storied restaurant chains, Doggie Diner, though archival photos show that this location did not include a giant rotating dachshund head.  

The building found recent fame in the 2018 surreal and critically acclaimed Boots Riley movie “Sorry To Bother You.” In the film, reluctant hero Cassius “Cash” Green, played by LaKeith Stanfield, lives in the apartment on the third floor with his girlfriend Detroit, played by Tessa Thompson. 

The penthouse’s modern finishings include a wine fridge, stone countertops and a private elevator. The listing agent’s blurb boasts that the unit, with its rooftop views over the city and to San Francisco beyond and its proximity to the historic Fox Theater and vibrant Uptown scene, is in “one of the most sought-after buildings in the Bay area.”

The viral Pismo Beach ‘tree’ house isn’t as whimsical as it appears

And finally, a real estate listing that technically isn’t a done deal yet — and maybe for good reason. 

In July, we reported on an unusual Pismo Beach home that is literally wrapped around an oak tree. Living around the winding limbs of the tree in the sprawling nine-bedroom property may seem like a Narnian fantasy, but SFGATE learned from a previous resident that it was more like a horror movie. 

“There was an ungodly number of roly-polies. Hundreds and hundreds of them,” former tenant Christopher Petro said. “It was disgusting. I’d lift up my couch and there’d be, like, 2,000 [dead pill bugs].” Oh, and there were also rodents, plus “a village of spiders just chilling” in the property’s human-made cave.

After sitting on the market for nearly 200 days, 765 Price Canyon Road is still listed for $3.8 million.

An unusual Pismo Beach home that is wrapped around an oak tree is still on the market.

An unusual Pismo Beach home that is wrapped around an oak tree is still on the market.

Christopher Petro

Writers Anna Marie Erwert and Ariana Bindman contributed to this report. 

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