Del Mar Train Tracks

There has been a lot of chatter lately about moving the train tracks but no decision has been made yet. Here’s how it looked four years ago – haven’t they fortified this by now? I think so:


Back in October, an oceanfront Del Mar house sold for a whopping $44.1 million, sending shockwaves through the quietly posh Southern California beach town and setting a new record for the most expensive San Diego County home ever sold. The out-of-left-field, off-market transaction came even as the San Diego real estate market has effectively stalled over the past year, with the deal pipeline choked by high interest rates, recession fears and low inventory. And the transfer also eclipsed Bill Gates’ recent $43 million purchase of an arguably more impressive house on the same strip of sand.

Property records indicate the $44 million house was purchased by a mysterious Delaware-based LLC, a common business tool used by the wealthy to cover their real estate tracks. But it’s certainly worth noting that the mysterious entity is managed by a longtime associate of Egon Durban—the high-flying, billionaire Silicon Valley dealmaker who has a known affinity for both record-breaking transactions and high-end real estate. Durban, the co-CEO of private equity giant Silver Lake, sports a personal net worth that tops $1.5 billion, according to Forbes.

Since the house was never on the market, photos are virtually nonexistent and details are few. But certainly the vast majority of its value lies in its oceanfront location—the property spans just over an acre of flat land, right on the sand—rather than the structures themselves. The main residence is unremarkable, large and well-maintained but visually dated. The property was built decades ago by prominent Hollywood real estate developer C.E. Toberman, founder of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Bowl, and remained in the extended Toberman family until Durban’s purchase.

In addition to the U-shaped main house, which is single-story and painted a deep navy blue, there are two ancillary buildings on the property. Each of those includes a two-car garage and additional living space, likely for guests or live-in staff. The oceanfront compound also boasts a full-size tennis court—a very rare thing on the shores of Del Mar—and a gated, blacktopped driveway with off-street parking for dozens of cars. There’s also an outdoor swimming pool, plus a sizable backyard with a grassy lawn and a wooden deck with stairs descending to the sandy beach. Altogether, the estate sports eight bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms.

Del Mar Flip

The MLS has 14 SFR sales under $2,000,000 over the last 12 months in the 92014 – or about one per month. This flip is priced at $2,399,000 now after being on the market for a couple of weeks towards the end of last year for $1,999,999. They paid $1,665,000 in August.

Del Mar Contemporary

This home was designated as a historical property in 2019 and there is a recorded document that says any exterior or landscape modifications must be approved by the City of San Diego. The torrey pine tree in the front yard was planted shortly after construction in 1971, and is part of the historical designation.

The buyer thought enough of it that they paid over list!

Here’s the description by the city: Recuerdo historical findings

One-Story, Newer, Price

Michele and I cruise around twice a week looking at the new listings.

I love it because I get to pontificate about the business and give her guidance like a good broker should.

She asks many great questions, and today was no exception. She had read the blog post from 2009 where I said agents should know the hot buys. She asked about the definition of a hot buy.

Today there is an easy formula to identify a hot buy:

If the number of Zillow Saves is 5% or more of the Zillow Views, it is a hot buy.

If the Zillow Saves are 7% to 10% of the Zillow Views, grab your checkbook – because it is sizzling hot.

Of course, now that I’ve divulged my tip, a few agents will manipulate the counts so if the listing agent is a known scumbag, then don’t trust their counts. You know who the scumbags are, don’t you?

We came up with another idea too.

If the house is one-story, newer, and the price is attractive, it’s a hot buy. But then we went one better.

If the house has two of the three (one-story, newer, attractive price), it’s probably a hot buy anyway.

If the list price is attractive, that is enough to power any sale, but if the price is attractive and the house is either one-story or newer it will probably be a hot buy. In 2024, a newer one-story house doesn’t even need to have an attractive price – there are so few of them that they can ask anything they want.

We saw three houses for sale today that will demonstrate my theorem. All are one-story homes that have been improved and should appeal to the maximum number of buyers – especially the seniors who have the money and will only consider a renovated one-story in a good location with some view:

For those who desire a full ocean view from both the family room AND the primary suite and can live with 1,620sf built in 1986 on a smaller lot in Carmel Valley, you can’t do much better than this for $2M:


If you want a fully-renovated one-story house just east of the freeway in Solana Beach that overlooks the golf course, then this would be worth a look:


Want to step it up and buy a brand-new 4,194sf one-story house with ADU in a prime Del Mar location with ocean view – and price is no object? Then this is for you, priced at $16,995,000:


Why would these three list for sale now instead of waiting until next year? Well, I can’t help you with that. It is the most lucrative time ever for buyers to pause during the absolute peak wait-and-see period of all-time.

So if 1-2 of these go pending by the end of the year, it will show that the premium properties are always hot – and I wouldn’t be surprised if they all sell.

Del Mar Lot Auction in 2010

Textbook example of how to run an auction – hit ’em fast and furious in the beginning to get bidders to jump, and hope for the best. It worked beautifully too, because I’m not sure there was more than one bidder. P.S. Carson Palmer was the buyer – he built a big bomber on the lot, and then got the last laugh when he sold it for $18,000,000 in 2018:

P.S. The buyer paid the 10% commission – purchase price was $4,400,000.

Del Mar Bluff Front

This 4,615sf home on a 50’x160′ lot just closed for $13,000,000.

The railroad tracks are in front of this property but not forever, and when they’re gone the value will spike. The cliff is wide here so room for bluff failure. Click on full screen for maximum impact!

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