Luxury sales were down in 2022 after two explosive years but that didn’t stop some eye-popping price tags.
The biggest sale in 2022 was a La Jolla home for $21.8 million, down from the largest sale of $24.9 million in 2021 for a Del Mar home. The downturn was expected as the entire real estate market started to cool in the spring.
Affluent buyers in 2022 mainly favored homes as close to the ocean as possible,
instead of Rancho Santa Fe, which typically has had several homes in the top five biggest sales. They also are getting more aggressive in hiding identities through limited liability companies and swearing real estate agents to secrecy.
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.
The San Diego Union-Tribune’s list is based on homes that were listed publicly for sale. It is possible for large purchases to be concealed if they were sold off market. Here are the top sales in 2022:
5. 701 1st St., Coronado — $17.25 million
Imagine waking up in the morning to a view of San Diego Bay and downtown as you prepare a coffee.
This 9,130-square-foot mansion on the waterfront in Coronado comes with 68 feet of water frontage, a six-car garage, fireplaces, butler’s kitchen, hot tub, wet bar, gym, barbecue pits, an infinity edge pool, private courtyard and office.
The view is where a lot of the value is with the San Diego skyline, boats and marine life all outside the door.
“I think the view from that side of Coronado toward the city is probably the top one or two views in all of San Diego (County),” said listing agent Brett Dickinson.
Property records list Christopher J. Bower as the seller. He is the CEO of PCG Asset Management, a private equity firm. The owner’s name was shielded from view.
The owner will have a famous neighbor in San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado, who lives a couple of houses over. Machado bought his 7,228-square-foot home, with similar views, for $10 million in 2019.
4. 9438 La Jolla Farms Road, La Jolla — $18.45 million
This 7,509-square-foot home on an ocean bluff in La Jolla features five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a gated entrance, an art studio, guest suites and double two-car garages.
It was first listed for $19.6 million in August 2022, and sold for the discounted price about a month later.
If views aren’t good enough from the house, it is just 250 feet from the Scripps Coastal Reserve Biodiversity Trail, which looks over Torrey Pines City Beach. It is typically limited to UC San Diego students but often has Saturday tours open to the public.
This sale was shrouded in secrecy, more so than most large sales. Property records list the Douglas A. Roberts Marital Trust as the seller. The buyer is listed as Lac Seul LLC, a Delaware-based company with virtually no information available about it.
A San Diego real estate agent involved in the sale declined to provide photos to The San Diego Union-Tribune, and photos were scrubbed from online listing sites like Redfin and Zillow.
3. 3000 Sandy Lane, Del Mar — $18.9 million
This former home of trumpeter and former Tijuana Brass leader Herb Alpert got a full upgrade before it went on the market in 2021.
Listing agent Eric Iantorno said the renovations are what really spoke to potential buyers. It was a full remodel, including cabinets, flooring, appliances and more. He described it as a “turn-key” property that didn’t require any work, despite being a 67- year-old home.
“Super luxury buyers really value turn-key,” Iantorno said. “They just want to bring a toothbrush.”
The 2,729-square-foot home is in a private-gate community with five bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms. It is directly on the beach, so owners can just walk out to the water.
Other features include a guest suite, Wangi wood-capped glass stairway, two fireplaces and a remodeled private bar that looks like it is from a classy cruise ship.
It also has a parking garage and space for four cars — rare in the beach community where space is limited.
Property records say the buyer was Premier Realty Holdings LP, a San Diego-based private investment firm.
2. 2318 Ocean Front, Del Mar — $20 million
This 3,770-square-foot home was previously owned by Ex-San Diego Padres pitcher James Shields and, before that, film executive Salah M. Hassanein.
Hassanein, who died in 2019, shared the property for many years with his romantic partner, fashion designer Zandra Rhodes. Rhodes, with her trademark pink hair, is known for designing outfits for Princess Diana, Freddie Mercury and more.
Hassanein had a lengthy career in the film business, working up to being president of Warner Bros. International Theaters.
The home was put on the market about a year after his death and property records say it was purchased by Shields for $11.8 million in August 2020.
What followed was a lengthy application with Del Mar to remodel the roughly 35- year-old home, with plans approved, along with renderings. It went on the market for
$22 million in April, selling for $2 million less in May.
No matter what happens with the approved plans, it has one of the biggest ocean frontages in Del Mar — 100 feet — and is on one of the most sought-after streets in San Diego County.
Plans call for a six-bedroom, six-bathroom home with a two-car garage and modern features.
Real estate agent Rande Turner said the home was appealing to buyers because it already had plans for a remodel and the large ocean frontage. It was unclear from property records who bought the home.
1. 1320 Muirlands Drive, La Jolla — $21.8 milion
This 12,628-square-foot mansion might not be directly on the beach or a bluff but it has one of the biggest lots in La Jolla and also the touch of a well-known interior designer.
The previous owners, Bill and Dawn Davidson, built a new home on the more than half-acre lot, which features ocean views, a pool, marble fireplace, and game room. It has six bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. Dawn Davidson, a decorated interior designer, said the idea with the home was to build something that was “clean and authentic.”
“We wanted La Jolla Spanish architecture but that was modern to today’s world,” she said. “It’s very transitional: crisp, clean and beachy, and light. It has tall ceilings but still graced with warm woods.”
A limited liability company, with a Nevada address, was set up to shield the buyer’s identity.
The property hasn’t always had the best reputation in the neighborhood. When the Davidsons bought the property in 2015 for $3.27 million, the remodel process ruffled the feathers of some neighbors, as detailed in the pages of The La Jolla Light. Some called the design a “McMansion” and argued it was too big for the area.
It’s not alone in large homes in that area of La Jolla. Former Padres first baseman Adrián González put his 9,726-square-foot La Jolla mansion on the market for $16.48 million in June, which has seven bedrooms and 11 bathrooms. The price was reduced several times, dropping to $12.9 million before it was taken off the market last week.
Real estate agent Ross Clark said the ocean views and interior design of the Davidsons’ house made it attractive to potential buyers.
“I could sell three of those today, for over $20 million, if I had them,” he said.