Who wouldn’t want to own the late Clark Gable’s mansion or Kevin Costner’s former pad in the Hills? There’s no doubt that a celebrity-owned home “brings the listing far more attention than it would have had,” The Agency’s Edward Fitz told the Wall Street Journal. While the Hollywood connection may seem like it would make for an easy sell in areas such as Hollywood or Beverly Hills, selling a mansion can be a challenge in other ways, even if Steve McQueen lived in it.
One tricky area is what’s claimed in ownership and what the title records actually reflect, and they don’t always match. Take for instance a home that was claimed to have been owned by Katharine Hepburn and Boris Karloff, which showed Karloff as an owner on title, but not Hepburn. Although Hepburn may not have owned the property, according to Karloff’s biography, she did live there.
In terms of mansions, size matters. Modern standards of how large a mansion should be are very different from the standard of the 1930s. Buyers often want something twice the size of a historic mansion, even if the home is on several acres of land. The original home is often torn down and replaced with a much larger one.. Case in point, the Frank Capra mansion in Bel Air was later torn down to build a 23,000-square-foot home for Iris and Bernard Cantor.
Privacy is another challenge. As perfect as the house itself may be, lack of privacy can be a dealbreaker for many, celebrities in particular. With the increase in tour bus companies and paparazzi media outlets, celebs are increasingly seeking fortress-like compounds, private roads, and hilly areas that are difficult to access.