When Michael Jackson’s (literal) fairytale home went up for sale in May of 2015, the asking price was $100 million. Since it initially hit the market, the house has seen no movement and attracted no potential buyers to wit. And yet, almost a year later, the house’s price remains a formidable and determined $100 million. Why? Because the sellers believe that’s what it’s worth (and they aren’t necessarily wrong), and they also believe that patience is the key to a big sell. But in a housing market where prices climb every day and people are buying fewer homes, they may have to be patient for a very long time.
The home really is impressive, for itself just as much as for its former owner. It boasts 12,598 square feet and 2,698 acres of land in the Santa Ynez Valley. The house also has six bedrooms, a 4-acre lake of its own, a waterfall, an outdoor barbecue area, a pool house and three guest houses, a tennis court, and a 5,500-square-foot movie theater and stage. While the buck is large, its accompanying bang isn’t a slouch.
However, the house has been a tough sell. For one thing, the people who can afford it haven’t been biting, presumably as most of them already have generous homes of their own and aren’t looking to acquire any more. But there are also just fewer people who can afford things like the Neverland Ranch.
“The uber-luxury high-end [housing] market is not anywhere near where it was three, four, five years ago,” says Brandon DeSimone, a real estate expert. “That market has just really slowed down, and there are only so many billionaires who can afford these homes.”
If billionaires are struggling with the current housing market, ordinary people seeking to buy a home are struggling, too. Home prices in general are much higher than they were several years ago. Nine percent of 456 counties measured were not considered affordable. A year ago, only two percent of counties were too expensive. Already this year home prices have risen almost ten percent from where they were this time last year. As a result, more people are choosing to rent than to buy.
“Chronically low inventory, surging rental rates and high home prices have shifted the demographic makeup of the urban core in many American cities,” says Nela Richardson, a chief economist with real estate agency Redfin. “Cities used to be enclaves of cultural and economic diversity, but suburbs are increasingly filling this role.”
Will the sellers of Neverland Ranch get their lofty $100 million? Maybe, but it could be a long time. The most expensive house sold on Zillow last year went for $46 million, and other pricy homes just aren’t getting much attention. The good news is that if you’re in possession of some serious money, Neverland Ranch could be all yours.