San Diego’s biggest home sales in its second pandemic year mainly favored newly built homes as close as possible to the beach.
Despite surging home prices across the nation, no luxury home sales in San Diego County last year broke records — despite six homes selling for more than $20 million.
The biggest purchase in San Diego County history remains the 2007 sale of an oceanfront home in Del Mar for $48.2 million. The same house was later sold to Bill and Melinda Gates for $43 million in 2020.
While there might not have been a new record high sale, it does not mean it was a bad year for luxury real estate. Homes listed for $4 million and up were selling in an average of 141 days in late November, said Reports on Housing. That was down considerably from 423 days at the same time last year.
Here are the top sales in San Diego County in 2021:
5. 311 Sea Ridge Dr., La Jolla — $20 million (tie)
This 6,884-square-foot home built in 2020 makes the list of one of the biggest sales in La Jolla history. The home is situated off Bird Rock and was designed by architecture firm Blue Heron to maximize ocean views.
The home features 3,000 square feet of outdoor space designed to capture ocean views, including a floating bridge, water walls and a roof-top entertainment space.
Listing agent Brett Dickinson said the property faces southwest, which he said was the best view of breaking waves he’s seen at any property in San Diego County.
“So, when you watch the break, it doesn’t come at you, it comes across your backyard,” he said.
Other features of the property include three theatres, two outdoor kitchens, an interior “chef’s kitchen,” two powder rooms, and wine and game rooms. It also has five bedrooms and four bathrooms.
The home was first listed for sale for $22 million in April 2020. The buyer was Blackburn Family Trust of Fresno, say property records.
5. 5305 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad — $20 million (tie)
This home is the most expensive to ever sell in Carlsbad, as well as one of the biggest sales in San Diego County last year.
The 10,000-square-foot mansion with trail access to the beach was formerly owned by professional gambler Billy Walters, who spared no expense, said listing agent Laura Barry.
“It had a lot of attributes that were, basically, the sky is the limit as far as spending goes,” she said.
Barry said there was skepticism a home could sell for so much in Carlsbad but she argued the property has a lot of things going for it: The lot is a substantial 1.5 acres, is gated, has a detached guest home, 166 feet of ocean frontage and quick access to McClellan-Palomar Airport if the buyer has a private jet.
Other features of the home include a private gym, theater, space for 13 parking spaces, five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. The buyer was listed as a limited liability company managed by Austin-based Registered Agent Solutions, a service that provides an agent to manage an LLC.
4. 303 Vista De La Playa, La Jolla — $21.75 million
This 5,098-square-foot home was custom built in 2017 and is directly on the beach.
Laura Barry, also the listing agent on this property, said a problem for some buyers of beach properties — which lead directly to the sand — is a lack of privacy. However, she said this home was unique in that there is a pool and large courtyard with kitchen and space for entertaining as a private buffer between the home and the beach.
“You have the best of both worlds within one site,” she said.
The home is at the end of a cul-de-sac, also increasing privacy. It is less than 200 feet from the former home of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), which is also on this year’s list.
Features of the Vista De La Playa home include a gourmet kitchen, six bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, detached guest house, a fireplace and many modern features. The home was previously owned by Joseph M. Limber, former CEO of biotech companies Prometheus Laboratories and Gradalis. The new owner is listed as the Kiraly Family Living Trust of La Jolla.
3. 17111 El Vuelo, Rancho Santa Fe — $22.9 million
The home on El Vuelo makes up for its distance from the beach by being the largest in size on this year’s list. The estate is 22,500 square feet and the lot is 33 acres.
It has an interesting history as the previous property of Gene Klein., former owner of the San Diego Chargers, and later purchased by Andrew Viterbi, co-founder of Qualcomm. The home was torn down and rebuilt, a process that took seven years. Viterbi donated the home to UC San Diego, and the purchaser in 2021 was Florida billionaire Herbert Wortheim.
At nearly $23 million, Wortheim’s purchase makes it the eighth-biggest sale in San Diego County history.
“It is a very contemporary home, which is unique in Rancho Santa Fe,” said listing agent Jason Barry.
Features of the property include large windows to maximize views of mountains and valleys, a gourmet kitchen, solar panels that can power the entire home, smart home features, and gardens with exotic plants and flowers imported from South America, Australia and South Africa. Athletic pursuits are all over the property with a pool, cricket lawn, putting green and stadium-style tennis court.
There is plenty of space for a large family or plenty of guests. There are six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and a five-car garage.
2. 311 Dunemere Dr., La Jolla — $23.5 million
Mitt Romney sold this home — infamous in American politics — in June to biotech investor and venture capitalist William Rastetter, and his wife, Marisa.
Unlike other homes on the list, it was sold off-market and the purchase price had to be calculated using tax documents.
The house became a rallying call in the 2012 election: Opponents said it was the perfect example of Romney being out of touch during his unsuccessful bid for president. Romney was building an elevator for his cars at the property during the campaign.
The “car elevator” was often tied to Romney’s opposition to the bailout of the auto industry during the Great Recession. “The cars get the elevator, the workers get the shaft,” former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said at the time.
Romney and his wife, Ann, purchased the property at 311 Dunemere Drive in 2008 for $12 million. The existing 3,009-square-foot home was torn down to build an 8,153-square-foot mansion with five bedrooms, six bathrooms and 65 feet of ocean frontage. It is one of roughly 30 beachfront homes in La Jolla.
The home was sold off-market, making a photo of the notorious “car elevator” hard to find. A 2020 assessment of the property, valued at $15.3 million, said the four-car garage was completed.
1. 2938 Sandy Lane, Del Mar — $24.9 million
This beachfront property has such an ideal location that it sold while it was under construction.
The roughly half-acre spot is behind a gated community with direct beach access near the entrance of the San Dieguito River. The 1950s home on the site, designed by modernist architect Russell Forester (known for designing the first Jack in the Box restaurant), has been torn down to make way for a new home.
Listing agent Azita Sadeghi (along with co-lister Eric Iantorno) said they were approached by the eventual buyer while the property was still in the middle of construction. Property records say the home was sold in March for $28 million, but it was later sold in October for $24.9 million. Listing agents involved in the sale did not provide details of what happened.
Records say the owners during most of 2021 were the Jorst Hendrick Family Trust of Reno. Members of the trust, say public records, are Charlotte and Henrik Jorst, founders of Kastel Denmark, a UV-protective activewear company.
A limited liability company, called 2075 Seaview, was listed as the owner as of October. California property records say the LLC is managed by Michael Persall, founder and chairman of ABP Capital, a financing company in Encinitas. Persall is also the owner and chairman of C3Bank.
The October sale price of the Sandy Lane home makes it the third-largest home sale in San Diego County history.