Buying a house of ‘Home Alone’ or John Lennon fame? There's a premium for that


An array of iconic homes are for sale — and buyers will almost certainly pay extra for that pedigree.

However, that premium is hard to quantify since some uber-wealthy buyers will pay almost anything to own a piece of pop culture, according to real estate experts.

“It’s like owning a Picasso” or a Fabergé egg, said Tomer Fridman, a real estate agent based in Los Angeles who specializes in luxury and celebrity homes.

“You’re buying something that’s super unique and something that is very rare,” he said.

Buying for ‘Hollywood cachet’

Among recent notable listings: The Victorian home depicted on the sitcom “Full House” hit the market Thursday in San Francisco for $6.5 million. Last month, the “Home Alone” house — the brick estate famously boobytrapped by character Kevin McCallister — listed for $5.25 million.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s first New York City home, a two-story SoHo loft, also hit the market for $5.5 million in May. The Los Angeles home of the late Paul Reubens, best known for his character Pee-wee Herman, is also for sale, for about $5 million.

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Luxury real estate prices recently hit a record high. The uber-wealthy are largely insulated from high mortgage rates since many can afford to make all-cash deals, according to real estate experts.

Famous homes generally command even loftier price tags than their market equivalents, those experts said.

Josh Altman, a luxury real estate agent in Los Angeles who is featured on the Bravo show “Million Dollar Listing,” estimates the premium can be perhaps 5% to 10% if the home is tied to a “household name” celebrity.

“There’s definitely this Hollywood cachet of ‘I bought so-and-so’s house,'” said Altman. His firm’s clients have included stars like Justin Bieber, James Cameron, Alicia Keys and Britney Spears.

“Home Alone” is “one of the most famous movies ever,” he added. “That’ll definitely get a premium, in my opinion.”

The rich often pay ‘whatever it takes’

The ultimate price tag on such homes generally doesn’t matter to their uber-wealthy buyers, said Fridman, who has sold properties owned by celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Sylvester Stallone, and Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott.

Many view the house as a collector’s item and make an “emotional purchase,” Fridman said.

Sellers can rake in a premium for a particular famous property via an initial pie-in-the-sky asking price or if potential buyers get into a bidding war, experts said.

“They’re one of one,” said Amanda Pendleton, a home trends expert at Zillow. “Some people with means will pay whatever it takes to own that home.”

The listing for the “Home Alone” property, outside Chicago, leans into its collector status, spotlighting the “rare opportunity to own one of the most iconic movie residences in American pop culture.”

An offer is pending on that home and was made within a week of being on the market, said Andrea Gillespie, a spokesperson for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. The sellers’ asking price is more than triple the $1.585 million they paid in 2012.

The listing for John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s residence — the first time it’s been for sale in 53 years — also plays up its former occupants’ fame.

“Anywhere that they lived is going to have some sort of value,” according to Philip Norman, author of the biography “John Lennon: The Life,” recently told The New York Times.

Buyers of the “Full House” home have the option of getting handprints in concrete stones of the show’s cast members, including Bob Saget and John Stamos, according to Architectural Digest.

Infamy sells, too

Infamy can also fetch a higher price, said Arto Poladian, a Redfin luxury real estate agent in Los Angeles.

In 2021, Poladian sold the so-called LaBianca house — the home where Charles Manson’s followers killed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in 1969 — for $1.875 million.

The property’s notoriety generated interest and attracted more prospective buyers — “and ultimately with that interest you get a little bit of a higher premium than without it,” Poladian said.

The listing was geared to buyers like “history buffs” or those who wanted to “add their touches to reimagine one of LA’s most unique properties.”

It’s like owning a Picasso.

Tomer Fridman

luxury real estate agent

Sometimes, even being in the vicinity of a famous residence can help, he added. For example, in 2018 he sold the house next door to the one used for the filming of the original “The Karate Kid” movie.

“Any type of famous home — or a home next to a famous home — will draw interest from prospective buyers and lookie-loos,” he said.

There’s sometimes a ceiling to what super fans are willing to pay, said Pendleton.

She cited the “Brady Bunch” house as an example: The Studio City, California, home — which was remodeled to look identical to the home on the TV series — sold for about $3.2 million in 2023 after months on the market; it had been listed for $5.5 million.

The publicity attached to certain properties is likely a “turnoff” for some would-be buyers, Pendleton said.

Similarly, a superstar’s home won’t command as much of a premium if it’s not updated and move-in-ready, said Poladian.

For example, Kanye West — the rapper who now goes by Ye — bought a Malibu, California, mega-mansion for $57.3 million in 2021. However, he has struggled to sell the home, which he gutted and left in disrepair; he listed the home last year for $53 million but recently dropped the price to $39 million. (A contractor also sued West in January and a lien was placed on the property, potentially complicating a sale.)

“Kanye West can’t give his house away in Malibu,” said Altman, the Los Angeles real estate agent.

Ultimately, though, a home’s value — whether a sprawling, renowned estate or a run-of-the-mill bungalow — is in the eye of the beholder.

“At the end of the day, a home is worth whatever the person is willing to pay for it,” Pendleton said.

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