Posted 2016-03-29 in /stories

Buying A Second (Or Third) Home in La Jolla, California

The original name for La Jolla was La Jolla By-The-Sea. And unlike many high-end resort villages in Southern California, La Jolla was always considered a kind of artistic village sanctuary. San Diego, its closest city neighbor by 12 miles, had busy Air Force, Marine and Navy bases, and for years was also an airplane manufacturing city.   

Whereas San Diego had the business dimension, La Jolla had an artistic dimension. And, over the years, the village became more and more of an enclave of wealth, attracting those who loved art, music, and theater. The La Jolla Playhouse started here, Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) wrote here, and various California impressionists lived and worked in La Jolla. It also became a place of quiet for many Hollywood actors and actresses who wanted to escape their lives of celebrity, and look peacefully, anonymously, out to sea. 

La Jolla, no matter what year, was where people could breathe the salt air, swim and surf in the ocean, and live a life only dreamed of by their mid-western, often snowbound parents and grandparents.  Then, UC San Diego was built in the early 1960’s, and a new intellectual, creative element arrived. Soon after that, the Salk Institute, architected by Louis Kahn, arrived; and the best doctors and researchers in the world came to La Jolla also.  

So, along with artists and writers, came University and medical professionals, and living in La Jolla soon became the precious reward for those who were working on great things. 

Older homes, especially those built in the 1920’s and 1930’s and on the ocean, were often renovated or scraped. The scrapers were cleared away so that newer homes could be built with that prized ocean view. And it would be easy to think, when discussing the  $10-15M and up range, with the scraping or renovating, the changes would center on the primary home market – but in the case of La Jolla, not necessarily.  

According, to Peter Middleton, A Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Broker in La Jolla, the secondary home market is as hot, and sometimes hotter than the primary home market, especially at the multimillion-dollar level. And, at the secondary, multimillion-dollar level, the buyer might be looking for attributes that are different from those in his primary home. 

“One of my clients,” he said recently, “is interested in buying one of our listings – it is $6M now, but it is next door to a home that is being built and will sell for around the $12M price point.  He knows that if he buys the $6M home, and just waits a few years, he can sell it for almost double what he paid for it.  

“Right now, it seems fewer people are traveling abroad, and many of the really high end buyers want to park their money in a good investment, in an area where there has always been substantial ROI – which La Jolla always had and has.  I have another who is interested in one of the historic homes in La Jolla on Hartley Drive. He has great interest – and if he buys it, it will be his third home.  He is looking, and many are, for privacy and quiet. His primary residence is in Las Vegas, he has a ski home in Colorado, and what he is looking for is a sense of privacy, and peace.  I find these attributes, right now, things almost as important as a great ocean view.”

Chad Perkins is a Real Estate Associate at Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty in La Jolla, has also sold many primary, secondary and tertiary homes.

“One of the statements I always hear is that lot size, and ocean view is what defines the value. Many times, the second homebuyer wants more land to expand. Of course, raw land in La Jolla is sparse, unless you buy a home and renovate it. Which is what, in my experience, many of our second homebuyers do. If they have room, they build out, if they don’t have the room, they often build UP, with a second story. 

“And many people buy third homes here. Many of my clients have a primary home where they work, often New York, Chicago or Dallas, then a home in Aspen or Telluride or Vail to ski in Winter, then, to round out their life portfolio, a beach house here in La Jolla, to spend Summers.  At this level, La Jolla defines, and probably always has, the best a second or third home life has to offer: great ocean views, privacy, with great investment potential. In our experience, that combination is precious, and priceless.”  

By Susan Kime

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