Inspiration Drive sale is tops this year at $12 million


By Kathy Day

Staff Writer

Having just sold the Muirlands home of Steve and Sandy Games for $12 million, Maxie Gellens said, “It makes you feel like the market is opening up.”

The biggest sale of the year in San Diego County, it is the third home to sell in the past six months for more than $10 million, the Prudential California Realty agent said.

Noting that it’s been more than two years since a La Jolla home sold for that much, she said it took three times on the market and 40 or 50 showings before a buyer showed up at the home at 1330 Inspiration Drive “who loved the house when they walked in and, shortly after, bought it.”

The buyers closed on the property after a 90-day escrow, said Gellens, who with her daughter and partner Marti Gellens represented the sellers. The seller is the former president of the Prudential brokerage.

The 12,203-square-foot home is described in the listing as an “Old Muirlands trophy estate” with seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and three powder rooms.

Rosemary Logan Rodger, also a Prudential agent who represented the local buyers — La Playa LLC — said, “I think this sale, along with other high-end sales this quarter, prove that La Jolla’s real estate value is alive and well.”

Rodger added that the buyers are “extremely astute business people” who have plans for “an extensive remodel of the property.”

In terms of the market shifting a bit, a report released Nov. 28 by First Republic Bank showed luxury home values notched modest gains in the San Diego region in the quarter ended Sept. 30 compared to the second quarter, but were down nearly 4 percent from a year ago.

“Luxury home prices in many California communities increased due to low inventories, low interest rates and home prices that have declined over the past few years. This has improved the economics of investing in residential real estate,” said Katherine August-deWilde, president and chief operating officer of First Republic Bank.

“All three major metropolitan areas in California experienced gains in home prices in the third quarter, which is the first time that has occurred since the fourth quarter of 2010,” she said.

San Diego area values increased 1.1 percent from the second quarter and fell 3.9 percent year-over-year. The average luxury home in San Diego is now $1.63 million, according to the First Republic Prestige Home Index.

Even so, buyers are still driving hard bargains and picking their deals carefully, agents are saying.

In the case of the Inspiration Drive sale, the home was listed at a range of $13,250,000 to $15,000,876.

It is located on what Gellens described as a “flat, gorgeous, 1-acre lot” and includes a theater room, wine room, game room and nine fireplaces. The walled and gated home has ocean views from some rooms, a seven-car garage and extensive landscaping and outdoor living areas.

Gellens, who first listed the home at $19 million to $21 million in 2006, said the Games took it off the market for two years. When they tried again, they received an offer but decided not to sell.

“They were reluctant to move,” she said. “They loved the home.”

But when they put it on the market this time, they found buyers that shared their love for it and are happy about that, she added.

— City News Service Contributed to this report.