Upper Riviera Section. Pacific Palisades, City of Los Angeles, Calif. Quiet, prestigious residential community overlooking Santa Monica Mountains and beaches. Fine clear air, ideal climate, peaceful atmosphere. Topanga State Park, a few hundred yards west. Shops, two miles; bus line, one mile. Brentwood Country Club, 1 1/2 mile; Riviera Country Club, one mile; Will Rogers State Park, with polo matches, one mile; ocean beaches, 2 1/2. Major freeways within a short distance. Los Angeles International Airport, 16 miles; Santa Monica Municipal Airport, five miles .
From a sales brochure for the Reagan's Pacific Palisades house What has happened to the American need to be near the famous at any cost?
The 11-room Pacific Palisades House that Ronald and Nancy Reagan built in 1957 and lived in until their recent move to Washington still stands unsold, a steal at $1.9 million, amid bougainvillea and azaleas. It basks in the presiential glow. It boasts two maids' rooms and a film projection setup. Most of the furniture selected by the nation's new trend setter (these were splashes of Reagan red in the decor) has been moved to the White House. But there is no mistaking the two hearts drawn into concrete, one on a stepping stone in the garden and the other on the pool patio, inscribed "NDR RR 1/15/57." And, thanks to General Electric's generosity toward the man who once hosted its television show, the house is what the sales brochure calls a "GE showplace."
So why hasn't the house sold?
Isn't there anyone out there with $1.9 million, a yearning for a great view of the Pacific Coast from Palos Verdes to Malibu and a deep-seated need to brag about living in the house the president built? There is some dispute about this in southern California real estate circles, but a few cold hearts suggest the price might be a bit steep for what is, after all, a one-story, three-bedroom house.
Mike Silverman, a well-known Beverly Hills agent who deals only in homes that cost in the neighborhood of $1 million, says, "The market is so wild here that we don't know any more what's worth what. The Reagans' house is in a good location. And the name is al alluring to so many people that they might be willing to pay a little bit more." But Silverman concedes that average homeowners, whom he dubs "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," might have "a little trouble" selling the house at the price the Reagans are asking.
The Coldwell Banker real estate firm has spared no expense preparing a six-page color brochure entitled "The Home of President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, Pacific Palisades, California." The kitchen is endowed with two ranges, two ovens, three refrigerators and two freezers. Year-round outdoor entertaining, never very difficult in California, is assured by an atrium equipped with heat lamps. Architect William R. Stephenson, who designed the house for the Reagans, calls it "a very informal, airy ranch house, typically Californian."
Jim Wix of the Coldwell Banker firm says four different real estate agents assigned to show the house tour it with an average of one potential occupant a day. Patsy Wolford, one of those agents, says she hasn't any idea how many people have viewed the house (after being screened for financial suitability). "But I go up there every day [with clients] and sometimes I've been up there three or four times."
Neighbors tell another story. Bessie Stanley, who has lived in the house directly across the street from the Reagans for almost 25 years, says she understands that in the months the house has been on the market only about six people have looked at it. She looks almost pained when she says he believes the Reagans are asking too much for their home.
Then she adds in a burst of loyalty, "But prices have inflated. And they made a lot of improvements. And they have a swimming pool."
Coldwell Banker agent Wix insists he is not discouraged by lack of an early sale. "I would expect any house in this price range to say on the market quite a while," Wix says. "Especially in the reasonably depressed housing market that we have today in southern California."
The president and Mrs. Reagan are, after all, not Mr. and Mrs. Smith, so they might just get their $1.9 million. Where is it going to come from? Patsy Wolford says "We've had interest from all over the world. We've even had some Arab sheiks up there."