In August 2013, Kobe Bryant‘s Newport Coast mansion swooshed on to the market with plenty of fanfare.
Curbed dubbed it a “Super-Gated McMansion,” the Los Angeles Times noted the home’s attention-grabbing shark tank, and MyFoxLA.com gushed over the in-home hair salon and wondered about “who wouldn’t want to say they bought the home of a Laker great.”
A year and a half later, the answer is no one—well, no one yet.
Despite a series of price cuts that brought the asking price down to $ 6.45 million from $ 8.6 million, the home still lingers on the market. While the NBA megastar is rehabbing from his latest injury (a torn rotator cuff), we were curious if his Newport home was in need of some TLC of its own.
Raj Qsar, owner of the Boutique Real Estate Group in Orange County, likened the pressure of a lingering listing to the pressure of a last-second shot. When we asked him to put himself in the position of the listing agent, he said, “That’s a purple elephant on my back. I would definitely take the home off the market for a while. I’d repackage the entire presentation. I’d create a brand around the house—that would mean grabbing a URL, taking all new photos, and creating a documentary on the house.”
Orange County broker Rita Tayenaka of Coast to Canyon Real Estate agreed and suggested an idea reminiscent of a trip to the housing disabled list: “I’d take the listing off the market for 90 days and then bring it back as a ‘new’ listing.”
She assuredly wasn’t pointing fingers at listing agent Jordan Cohen. “It’s hard to say what the real reason is for the lack of a sale. Who knows in this market?” Tayenaka said. We reached out to Cohen for comment but received no response.
For prestigious listings such as Bryant’s home, Qsar is extremely bullish on storytelling and believes an emotional element is often missing.
“When I think of Kobe Bryant, I think of an incredible story. Everyone knows who he is. We’re storytellers at our brokerage, and what I think is important is to frame the listing as ‘This home has a story to be told,’” said Qsar.
To that point, Qsar has incorporated elements such as filmmaking, elegant websites, and drone photography into a few of his listings. “It connects people emotionally, especially with someone as well-known as Kobe Bryant,” he said. “It would be awesome if there was a story that related his championship background to the home.”
Should agents be expected to tell a story? According to Qsar, the answer is an emphatic “yes.” He thinks ramping up the tale behind Bryant’s home would juice buyer interest. “Most agents don’t think like storytellers,” he said. “They just want to get a listing. We’ve hired third-party agencies to help us with digital marketing, because it’s outside of an agent’s scope. I’d want to create a story that talks about championships and emotion. This isn’t a $ 30 million listing—but it deserves a better story, simply because it’s Kobe’s house.”
Another issue both brokers also noted was the relative lack of photos—just 12 in all. In this instance, buyers shopping for multimillion-dollar mansions are just like the rest of us—they need to see the inside of a home from the comfort of their screens before making the decision to see it in person. Pro photography goes a long way in persuading buyers to pick up the phone.
“A majority of the buyers for a property like this would be international—the pictures are professionally done, which is great—but it just seems like there are not enough of them. The listing mentions a gym, a shark tank in the library—these are all things that I want to see! I wish I could check them out—especially if I was from out of the area,” Tayenaka said.
Neither agent cited the home’s current price tag as a main concern, and both believe the current price per square foot ($ 761) was comparable with other homes in this ritzy Orange County enclave. Tayenaka said the area is “prestigious” and supports the asking price.
“It’s only $ 761 a square foot—that’s a deal! That thing should be so hot right now with low inventory in that part of Orange County. It should have way more attention than it currently does,” Qsar said.
And what about international buyers? Surely a basketball-crazed Chinese billionaire would be interested in a house with a Hall of Fame pedigree. Tayenaka told us she’s seen an influx of cash buyers from China, but they usually want new homes. She also added that the home would need to be marketed to those buyers, but she hadn’t seen any evidence of it.
Qsar said this particular part of the coast is popular with Chinese and Korean buyers, but he’s also seen a growing interest from Arabic-speaking buyers.
“International is still hot in Orange County,” Qsar said. “We’re seeing a huge influx of Middle Eastern buyers coming into the coast. Another angle to add to the marketing plan would be translations of the listing into Arabic or Chinese.”
So, does the fact that an all-time NBA great lived in this house carry any sort of significance?
“The house has name cachet,” said Qsar, “but whether a buyer admits that or not is another story.”