Haute Properties: Celebrities in trouble? Say it isn’t so!

Celebrities exist to provide us with an escape from our mundane, imperfect lives. So pardon me for having to dispel the illusion that celebrities aren’t suffering the same case of economic cooties as the rest of us.  Yes, I know it’s downright disturbing to press our noses up against the Tiffany glass windows of celebrities’ lives and see our own reflections.  But I fear, dear readers, that even celebrities have been unable to escape the Great Tumble of the real estate market.

We all know about Nic Cage’s Great Selloff. No need to wring our hands in anguish over the house auctions, the tax woes or the fact that the man just signed to play an animated caveman named Crug for DreamWorks.

But Sharon Stone? I recall the day back in 2006 when she listed a Beverly Hills home at $12.5 million. (I mostly recall it because I spilled a cup of hot coffee on myself, but I digress.) She had owned it for a realty nanosecond (four months) and suddenly it was back on the market. Call her fickle or flipper, both descriptions were widely bantered about.  But market timer, she wasn’t. Fast forward to May of 2008 and this property — that she still hadn’t sold and had never moved in to – came back on the market at  $10 million.  It’s a lovely enough house — Mediterranean resort-style compound on five acres that once belonged to renown architect Joseph Ambrose. For a while, Stone leased it out at around $35,000 a month – waiting for the market to recover, no doubt.

Watching her play the on-the-market, off-the-market game, price getting lower each time, has been migraine-inducing. Real estate agents have a name for folks who do this: Market chasers – they keep their property listed a half-step higher than the market, despite agents telling them it’s better to price low in a falling market than chase buyers from above.

And now we can add Sharon Stone to the list of people about to swallow hard. Her recorded sales price in March 2006: $10,995,109. Her newly lowered asking price today: $8,995,000. A $2 million gulp.

Since panic attacks today are more directly related to when you bought your home, let’s end on a happier note: The October 1996 purchase of a Santa Monica home by “The Good Wife” actress Julianna Margulies.

Sure, Margulies has been trying to sell her home for awhile, but having only paid $1,395,000 after her successful six-year run on “ER,” gives her some breathing room. She first listed it in September 2008 for $4.5 million, no doubt lured into a sense of confidence that she could wait out the recession by having a tenant in place while she relocated to New York.  And with Kyra Sedgewick and her husband Kevin Bacon – both Grammy winners – as your tenants, I’d say she wasn’t terribly worried about them skipping out on the rent or throwing a frat party.  Not sure what changed on that front, but after a few interim price drops, the home was just relisted at $3,250,000. If she gets her new price, Margulies will still be in the profit column although she won’t have gotten what she once thought she could. Hollywood, welcome to the real world.