Infamous De Guine estate finally sells at dramatic discount

  • 4e989 a Infamous De Guine estate finally sells at dramatic discount



We’ve visited and revisited the De Guigne estate over the years, watching its drama unfold.

Now, finally, the 16,000-square-foot mansion in Hillsborough has sold for $29.85 million, and at such a dramatic discount from its original list price of $100 million that this story’s end makes for good real-estate gossip.

Weird history

Aside from newsworthy features this estate offers, which we’ll detail shortly, its listing history too made the news: In February of 2013, the de Guigne estate hit the Hillsborough market at $100 million, debuting then as one of the five most expensive properties for sale in the entire country.

But there was a quirk in the listing that made it even more newsworthy: A life estate its then owner,  75 years old Christian de Guigne IV who hoped by these terms to remain in the home rent free until his death. New owners would wait in the wings until then, not able to live in the home; but expected to maintain maintenance on a property with “household expenses average[ing] $450,000 a year” according to the San Jose Mercury News.

No buyers emerged to snap up this dubious deal.

In May of 2015, the listing was withdrawn. In June of 2016, it came back — priced $60 million less than its original list — at $34.9 million. The life estate for Christian de Guigne had disappeared from the equation.

Still, no buyers.

Final sale

After all that drama, 891 Crystal Springs Road has finally sold for $29.85 million, a fraction of its original list.

What does that money buy?

The de Guigne family began building the 16,000-square-foot mansion in 1914, and held title on the 47.4-acre estate for over 150 years. That land, with its lush lawns, gardens and private hiking trails, was designed by Thomas Church.

In the mansion, which was designed by Bliss Faville, are 10 bedrooms and nine a half bathrooms, a ballroom, a grand formal banquet room, a flower-arranging room, a library, and a plethora of additional rooms for all the activities the very rich need separate rooms to accomplish. Many of the interiors remain intact and original from the 1960s, when the owners at that time — Christian de Guigne III and his wife, Eleanor — hired decorator Anthony Hail.


Christian de Guigne I was a prominent Bay Area businessman who “at one point in the 19th century owned a chunk of downtown San Mateo,” writes the Mercury. This home that he commissioned was the scene of many lavish parties and opulent occasions.

But decades later, all this luxury wasn’t enough for Christian IV and his wife, Vaughn Hills, of the Hills Bros. coffee family. Theirs was a reportedly bitter divorce made more acrimonious by a failed attempt to sell or subdivide the estate.

De Guigne’s proposal “to subdivide the property into 25 single-family homes” collapsed under pressure of the poor 2009 economy and vociferous opposition from neighbors and environmental groups. So, though the MLS write up for this now sold property boasts  “potential to subdivide,” it’s hard to know if new owners can actually do so.

But then again, maybe new owners plan to keep all 47-plus acres and 16,000-square-feet of luxe to themselves.

Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert


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Is the Bay Area losing its luster? Workers move…

Facing competition from cities where it’s cheaper to live, the Bay Area isn’t the talent magnet it used to be, a report released by LinkedIn on Friday shows.

The net number of workers moving to the region dropped 17 percent from February to May. But other cities such as Seattle saw that figure jump 2 percent during that same period.

“(The Bay Area) isn’t quite the El Dorado it might have been three to four years ago when the rest of the country was still struggling to recover from the Great Recession,” said Guy Berger, LinkedIn’s economist.

d482e graphic Is the Bay Area losing its luster? Workers move…In the last 12 months, the San Francisco Bay Area lost the most workers to Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas — cities with lower living costs.

LinkedIn didn’t survey users about why they left, but it’s no secret that the area’s rising housing costs and rent are making some residents think twice about staying here.

In April, the median price for a previously owned single-family home in the nine-county Bay Area region climbed to an all-time high of $800,000, according to real estate information service CoreLogic.

“A lot people are probably hearing that even if you’re getting paid really well in San Francisco a huge chunk of that is going to be for rent or your mortgage,” Berger said.

The Bay Area, though, is still an attractive place to live.

Looking at the number of people who changed their location on their LinkedIn profile in the last 12 months, the tech firm ranked the Bay Area No. 12 on its list of cities that are gaining the most workers. Seattle topped the list, followed by Denver, Austin and Portland.

The Bay Area gained the most workers from New York City, Boston and Chicago, data showed.

In February, the Bay Area was ranked higher at No. 10 on LinkedIn’s list of cities that are gaining the most workers. The region gained 32.1 workers per 10,000 LinkedIn members from December 2016 through January 2017.

“(The Bay Area’s economy) slowed down from red hot to really good,” Berger said.

Bay Area hiring in May was also down 4 percent compared to the same period last year. LinkedIn looked at the percentage of members who changed their employers on their profiles to calculate the hiring rate.

More than 138 million workers in the United States are on LinkedIn. The Bay Area included San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Solano counties.

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San Francisco real estate mogul lands in Wabasha with colossal eagle art collection

Preston Cook has valiantly tried to step quietly into his new life among the 2,500 souls of Wabasha, Minn.

He’s been only partially successful.

“If anyone recently made a big splash around here, it’s him,” said Wabasha Mayor Rollin Hall, who described Cook as “very personable, modest, not arrogant, a good listener. He fits into Wabasha very well.

“But he has been active — and this is about eagles.”

Wabasha — a renowned bald eagle flyway on the Mississippi River and home to the educational nonprofit the National Eagle Center — thought it knew something about obsessions with bald eagles.

Then it met Cook, a confidently understated 70-year-old San Francisco real estate developer.

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 San Francisco real estate mogul lands in Wabasha with colossal eagle art collection

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Vallejo Emerges As One Of Bay Area’s Hot Real Estate Markets

VALLEJO (CBS SF) — If you’re looking for a bargain in the Bay Area’s pricey housing market, look no further than Vallejo.

It was just named as the hottest market in America, edging out San Francisco at number 2 according to

“2007, 2008 when the market crashed this city was one of the hardest hit, the city even filed for bankruptcy and a lot of people think of Vallejo as a crime-ridden spot, a lot of foreclosures but because of the prices and where it’s situated, it’s really in an incredible transition,” said luxury real estate broker Justin Fichelson.

Take the nearly 2,000-square-foot, 4-bedroom home at 117 Chatham Place. It features a remodeled kitchen, easily up-gradable fixtures, and a huge backyard – priced at $450,000.

And that’s above the city’s median home value – $349,300, according to Zillow.

If you’re willing to shell out a bit more – you can snap up a rare find – a historic 6 bedroom, multi-family Victorian built in 1917 at 518 Florida Street. The asking price is $598,000.

For buyers looking for something more modern and brand new — a 3-bed, 3-bath Colina at Waterstone home is listed for just under $750,000.

“Vallejo is 30 miles from San Francisco, it’s 15 miles from Napa Valley, you have a direct ferry that goes straight into the city and it’s great weather,” added Fichelson.

Fichelson says demand has gone up particularly because people have been priced out of San Francisco. Buying in Vallejo is a steal – even compared to Oakland – where the median home value is $678,800, according to Zillow.

“Look on this block alone you have cute coffee shops and restaurants opening up, there’s a burgeoning art scene in downtown Vallejo so it’s really changing,” said Fichelson.

Like other Bay Area cities though — homes in Vallejo are in short supply. Half sell in under 30 days.

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Facebook founder and his wife help teachers afford Bay Area down payments

The Bay Area’s super-costly housing market has made it hard — sometimes impossible — for schoolteachers to put down roots and buy homes near their jobs.

Now, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is giving $5 million to a fund that will help educators in three San Mateo County school districts make down payments on houses.

The philanthropic initiative founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and her husband Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, is partnering with San Francisco startup Landed.

The startup pays up to half of a 20 percent down payment — 10 percent of the cost of a home — for educators, with zero interest or monthly payments. The assistance maxes out at $120,000 per participant. It is meant to create a stepping stone toward home ownership in the nine-county Bay Area, where the median price of a single-family house hit $800,000 in April, an all-time high.

“This gives people a pathway,” said Alex Lofton, who co-founded Landed in 2015. “We totally acknowledge that the other 10 percent they have to bring (to the deal) is still difficult. But it makes it more achievable. It creates hope.”

The program is expected to assist around 60 educators in the Redwood City, Ravenswood City and Sequoia Union High School districts — all in San Mateo County, where the median cost of a single-family home reached a new peak of $1.4 million in April. With many teachers and staff commuting long distances from more affordable markets in the East Bay and even the Central Valley, the program offers a “leg up” for those desperate to crack the market closer to their classrooms, said John Baker, Redwood City School District superintendent.

“It’s getting your foot in the door,” he said. “And that’s really important to people who are committed to being educators and committed to their students, and who want to be truly engaged with their students. It’s a real plus — what a wonderful way to have a career and to have a home near the town where you work.”

Educators in the three school districts already are inquiring about the assistance, said Lofton.

Often, he explained, assembling the funds for a 20 percent down payment is the most difficult challenge for first-time homebuyers. Recognizing that hurdle, Landed — with funding from different investors — began in recent months to assist educators in the East Bay and in the Los Altos and Mountain View-Los Altos school districts.

As an example of how the program works, he cited someone who wants to buy an $800,000 home. Landed would supply up to $80,000, or half of the $160,000 down payment. If the home were to be sold a few years down the road, the homeowner would keep 75 percent of the value of its appreciation, with the other 25 percent being reinvested in the assistance fund. (Likewise, if the home loses value, the homeowner would shoulder 75 percent of the depreciation, while the fund would absorb 25 percent of the loss.)

“I’d been a really conscientious saver ever since I graduated college and started working,” said Joel Key, principal of the middle school at Impact Academy of Arts and Technology, a public charter school in Hayward. Yet over the past 12 years, he was unable to put together an adequate down payment to buy a home. All the while, he rented apartments; his most recent one-bedroom flat cost him $2,100 monthly in Oakland near Lake Merritt.

The rental on that same apartment was about to rise to $3,100 monthly late last year when he heard about Landed and applied for assistance. He received $58,000 toward a $116,000 down payment on a one-bedroom condominium selling for $580,000 in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood. He closed the deal and moved in the day after Christmas.

“I’d been feeling that there wasn’t going to be a way into the market at all,” said Key, who grew up in Los Gatos, his father a longtime teacher and counselor at Independence High School in San Jose. The assistance program “made it possible to buy a place near my job where I could feel like a proud owner. Instead of moving to Arizona or Idaho, I’m right here where I want to be. And I don’t have any intention of moving.”

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