The classic half-timbered home, built beginning in 1914, was a ramshackle relic when it was purchased a decade ago for $5 million by Kelly Porter, a television executive turned Internet investor. He and then-wife Christina, a designer, took to its renovation with the artistic flourish of William Randolph Hearst, spending tens of millions of dollars on a dot-com-boom-financed face-lift.
But Stonebrook has become an inadvertent monument to a residential downturn that has spread to the highest-end homes and touched buyers and sellers of considerable wealth.
Porter, divorced and ready to move on, put the home on the market in January 2008 for $45 million.
With no takers, he lowered the price in July to $38 million — an amount that matches the most expensive California sale logged in public records that year: a six-bedroom Bel-Air mansion that sold in October. (This year, the record is $31.5 million for a Beverly Hills mansion that sold this week.)
Porter gave a flurry of tours to buyers when Stonebrook went on the market; then they slowed to a couple each month. Since the beginning of April, however, five have toured the home, and real estate agent Decker and Porter spent four hours on a recent evening trying to put a deal together.
Like so many wealthy owners, Porter could bide his time. “He owns the house free and clear,” Decker said. But he may be ready to sell.
“As long as my energies are here, it holds me back from moving on and doing new things,” he said.
And if Realtor Miller’s adage applies to this topsy-turvy market, Porter may not have to wait long for a sale: The high end has traditionally been, Miller said, the “last to feel it and the first to recover.”