Great Estates: Four La Jolla homes fetched more than $10 million in 2011


By Pat Sherman

Four residential properties in La Jolla sold for more than $10 million this year, including San Diego architect Wallace E. Cunningham’s contemporary opus, “The Razor.” Perched above Torrey Pines State Reserve at 9826 La Jolla Farms Way, the 11,000-square-foot estate boasts an open, minimalist design of white polished concrete and floor-to-ceiling glass that emphasizes its uninterrupted views of ocean and sky. The home, which has never been occupied, has been featured in television ads for Calvin Klein and Visa. It has a vanishing-edge pool and two-story guesthouse. Records show it cost roughly $32 million to build.

“In my 32 years in real estate it is without question one of the most architecturally significant and beautiful homes I’ve ever seen,” said Jeffrey Nunn, branch manager of Coldwell Banker La Jolla. Laleh and Niloo Monshizadeh of Coldwell Banker represented the buyer, Donald Burns, and Bob Hurwitz of

Hurwitz James

in Beverly Hills, represented the seller, Jimmy Donald Cooksey, Jr.

Despite its opulence, records show the home had both federal and state tax liens placed on it, and remained on the market for more than three years before Burns, a 47-year-old real estate investor from Palm Beach (Fla.) with ties to the telecom industry, picked it up this month for $14.1 million cash, according to Hurwitz and San Diego 10News. That’s almost a third of the original asking price of $45 million. The oceanfront property, failed to sell at two auctions this fall.

Coldwell Banker sold another of La Jolla’s residential jewels this year, a 6,039-square-foot ranch-style home at 5960 Camino de la Costa. Built in 1949, the seven-bedroom, five-bath home went for slightly more than $11.5 million, a more modest reduction in a listing price of $13.9 million.

Though in 2009 another four La Jolla homes sold for $10 million or more, only one home sold for as much in 2010, according to the La Jolla Real Estate Broker’s Association.

Nunn said 2011’s $10 million-plus sales signal an uptick in the market for luxury homes. “It tells me the people with cash are sensing it’s time to put their money into real estate,” Nunn said. “The fear of bottom falling out is gone.”

Another La Jolla home, at 6040 Camino de la Costa, sold for $10.8 million this year. The 1935 Spanish-Mediterranean home’s original asking price was $12.9 million. It sold within a matter of months. “It went pretty quick because it was priced right,” said Linda Daniels, an agent with Willis Allen Real Estate who handled the sale.

Maxine and Marti Gellens of Prudential California Realty recently sold a home at 1330 Inspiration Drive for $12 million, though it took 40 or 50 showings before a buyer fell in love with the seven-bedroom, 11-bath “Old Muirlands trophy estate.” The 12,203-square-foot home was originally listed at a range of $13,250,000 to $15,000,876.

Daniels said the houses agents are “struggling a bit” to sell are those in the $2 million to $4 million range.

“Nowadays people don’t want houses that they have to do anything to,” she said, noting a concurrent downswing in rebuilds. “People want instant gratification right now. I think that’s just a sign of the times. They don’t want to overspend, they don’t want to overcommit.”

Claudette Blanchard Berwin, broker-owner at Gallery Properties in La Jolla, said she sees the uptick in ultra-luxury sales as great news. Berwin, who is poised to list a coastal La Jolla home with a small vineyard for $4 million, said the $2 million to $4 million-price range actually “opened up” at her office.

“I think there’s a lot of pent up demand,” she said. “Those that can afford the homes are tired of waiting. I’m hoping to see $5 million-plus (home sales) become a lot more frequent in 2012. I’m extremely optimistic.”

Nunn said the average listing price at Coldwell Banker was more than $1 million, though the sweet spot for actual sales was between $700,000 and $800,000.

According to DataQuick Information Systems, there were 16 single-family residential home sales last month in La Jolla, with an average sales price of about $1.5 million, up by 7.9 percent from the same period last year.