President Herbert Hoover. Grammy Award nominee Gino Vannelli. Double Nobel laureate Linus Pauling. Renowned chef James Beard. Neo-classical composer Ernest Bloch. Authors Beverly Cleary and Walt Morey. Actors Sally Struthers, Frank Cady and Ginger Rogers. What do the people on this diverse list have in common? Celebrities all, they have each called Oregon ‘home.’
A Brush with Greatness
Have you ever had a ‘brush with greatness?’ Perhaps you happened upon a famous person one day while on a walk, or shopping at a store. What if you were shopping for a home, then learned the seller was very well known? How might that affect your purchase of the property? While touring, would you ‘linger longer’ out of curiosity? If you wrote an acceptable offer, might you frame the seller’s autograph?
How does one go about determining if a famous property is realistically priced? And can you expect to benefit upon re-sale, years later? For answers to these questions, find out in this edition of the Oregon Real Estate Podcast by clicking here or on the ‘play button below.
America has long been fascinated with celebrity. Some famous people garnered their fame from sports, radio, TV, movies, or the fine arts. But it doesn’t stop there. Even bounty hunters can be famous, too, as witnessed on TV.
The Real Estate Connection
Sometimes all that celebrities touch seemingly ‘turns to gold’ and this includes real estate. Homes owned by the famous often have interesting stories, like this article about a house owned by Joni Mitchell. The mere fact that a property was owned, or lived in by someone well known can sometimes influence what buyers are willing to pay. But as we’ll soon see, there isn’t an easy formula to discern the affect of ‘star power’ on a home.
‘Fame’ is a Relative Term
Many otherwise interested homebuyers don’t have the budget to operate in the seemingly ‘rarefied air’ of well known celebrities, distant from the lives and concerns of ordinary people. But just as there is a somewhat subjective (and ever-changing) star heirarchy of ‘A’-listers, ‘B’-listers, ‘C’-listers’ and even ‘D-listers,’ often the value responsible for any real estate ‘fame factor’ can be linked to a given star’s latest standing. That said, you may someday happen upon a property having a ‘brush with greatness,’ however major or minor.
Degrees of Fame
While Oregon has a fair share of famous personalities (like Oregon State’s Rose Bowl winning quarterback Terry Baker, or Olympians Steve Prefontaine and Don Schollander), it’s also likely that many have not heard of those athletes, compared to others in today’s broader American popular culture. So in addition to the degree of fame, there’s also the factor of ‘staying power,’ or remaining relevant and in the public eye, over time.
Homes Can Be Famous, Too
A house featured in the film ‘Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House’ with Cary Grant, has its own kind of ‘star appeal’ to Oregonians. That’s because 73 similar ‘Blandings’ homes were built across the nation to help publicize the film with one of them built on the west side of Portland. Here’s a local news story about the particular Oregon home built for promoting the film, which still stands.
What is Celebrity?
Some make the case that fame is money. Alternatively, sometimes money itself is a form of fame, as with Bill Gates, J. Paul Getty or John D. Rockefeller. To help quantify celebrity, Forbes magazine reportedly uses a detailed formula that takes into consideration income, press reports, magazine covers, TV & radio appearances, along with Internet presence. This combination of money and media raises the question of what exactly is celebrity? Given the Forbes ‘formula,’ one could make the case that celebrity has less to do with talent, intelligence, contributions to the world, or quality of character. In some cases, it’s perhaps due to money and/or media.
Controversial figures with a degree of notoriety are frequently able to successfully parlay their notoriety into some potential benefit of fame. One example is Northwest figure skater Tonya Harding, who transitioned into a short-lived boxing career. For clarity, here are some useful and sometimes synonymous definitions to consider:
Celebrity: “A famous person.”
Famous: “Known about by many people.”
Notorious: “Famous or well known, typically for some bad quality or deed.”
Renown: “The condition of being known or talked about by many people; fame.”
For our purposes here, each of the above terms can affect real estate value. For information on a ‘downside’ of real estate notoriety known as ‘stigmatized properties,’ check out one of our previous programs here.
What makes a celebrity’s home different?
1. They’re larger. Square footage can be multiples of an average home, sometimes by an order of 5x or more.
2. They’re more expensive. Multi-million dollar transactions are the order of the day, with some transactions closing well into eight figures.
While there are certainly benefits to owning a celebrity home, there are also potential negatives, too. As seen in this short video titled ‘The Woes of Owning JFK’s Home,’ some downsides include less privacy from the public and sometimes restrictions on what changes may be made to the home, especially if a historic designation is involved.
Celebrity Homes-What You Need to Know
Simply because a home is, or was owned by a celebrity, doesn’t mean you should, or shouldn’t buy it. Cost aside, here are several factors helpful to know before you make a decision about considering a ‘celebrity home.’
1. Realize there are degrees of celebrity and one person’s awareness may be different than another’s. This applies to both people and the home itself. So, if a previous owner had a ‘bit part’ in the 1980’s film ‘Revenge of the Nerds,’ you probably needn’t worry about celebrity seekers stalking the house or occupants at all hours in search of souvenirs or a conversation with the current resident. However, if the home you’re considering buying or selling was in a different 1980’s movie, like the cult hit ‘Goonies,’ be prepared for what might be continuous attention, as evidenced by the following notice on this fan site:
**** Visitors are asked to view “The Goonies House” from a distance due to vandalism, trespassing and other issues.The alternative viewing site from the Riverwalk near the Comfort Suites is easily accessed and provides a great view of the Goon Docks hillside – and sea lions! ****
2. Celebrity homes might be seen as the ‘flip side’ of stigmatized homes. Celebrity homes frequently possess an ‘otherworldly’ quality, sometimes difficult to quantify. While touring homes of the famous, it’s common to hear ‘To think that such a well known person actually slept in this bedroom.’ In a way, such tours remind us that in some ways, famous people live much like we do.
Depending on the celebrity involved, you can’t always expect the market to place a major premium on certain homes associated with fame. Simply put, some prospective buyers are more enamored with a home associated with a current celebrity, or someone who had a #1 hit song like Oregon singer Johnnie Ray, than even a former chief executive of Oregon, like Governor Vic Atiyeh. Understandably, the factor of fame may be ‘value-added,’ but to many it’s not the primary driver for a home purchase.
3. As with other factors (like property taxes) it’s generally a good idea not to base a home purchase primarily on a single factor, like celebrity status. You should also like the home and not ‘kick yourself’ later for overpaying.
Here are some properties that might be described as Oregon ‘celebrity homes,’ either due to the inhabitant or media coverage.
1. Linus Pauling
3945 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR
Oregon hasn’t raised an overwhelming number of world changers, yet Linus Pauling is one. Pauling is the only person in history to receive two unshared Nobel Prizes, the first was in 1954 for chemistry. In 1962 he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Pauling is significant for providing James Watson and Francis Crick with the basic approach to solve the structure of DNA model-building. While not a public museum, Pauling’s childhood house still stands.
2. Herbert Hoover
115 S. River Street, Newberg, Oregon
President Hoover’s boyhood Newberg home still stands at 115 South River Street on the north side of downtown and looks much as it did when Hoover lived there. Built in 1881, the home is owned and operated as a house museum and furnished with late 19th-century period furnishings, including bedroom furniture used by Hoover as a boy.
3. Ginger Rogers
1,000 acre ‘Rogers’ Rogue River Ranch’ near Shady Cove, Oregon
Ginger Rogers, the glamorous, Oscar-winning Hollywood star famous for her roles (and footwork) with Fred Astaire, bought a 1,000-acre ranch along Oregon’s Rogue River in 1940. Rogers was known to call the Oregon property “her hideaway.”
Morey’s Landing, Wilsonville, Oregon
Author of many books, Walt Morey’s popular ‘Gentle Ben’ also became famous as a TV show of the same name.
Morey’s former Wilsonville property is located within walking distance of the neighborhood’s bear-themed Morey Park and features a gated entry with a remodeled 1950’s daylight ranch style home, where he wrote some of his books.
3340 NE Hancock Street, Portland, Oregon
The childhood home of children’s author Beverly Cleary is located in the NE Portland neighborhood also home to Cleary characters Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins. The house, a 1910 one-level bungalow at 3340 NE Hancock Street is reportedly one of four in Portland where Cleary once resided.
Cleary famously used her childhood surroundings as inspiration for her books for children and young adults. The house on Hancock is just blocks from Klickitat Street, the fictional home of Henry Huggins and Ramona and Beezus Quimby. It’s also near Beverly Cleary School and the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden at Grant Park.
116 NW Gilbert Way, Newport, OR
Perched on a high bluff in Newport, Oregon overlooking Agate Beach and the Pacific Ocean stands a house that was home to composer Ernest Bloch from 1941 to 1959. While a few alterations have been made, including the replacement of the main fireplace, much of the home remains unchanged. On February 2, 2009, the National Park Service declared it nationally significant, given the connection with Bloch. View more information here.
Thinking about selling your Oregon home? Celebrity-seeker or not, Realtor Roy Widing can help you!
Contact Roy using the convenient form below, or call 971-258-4822 for a free consultation.