Last week, TMZ reported that after two long years of searching and several suspended deals, newlyweds Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez finally landed on a home in which to live together. They paid $60.9 million—cash—for a five-acre property in the exclusive Wallingford Estates gated community of Beverly Hills. The home has 12 bedrooms, 24 bathrooms, and 15 fireplaces, as well as a separate guardhouse for security, parking for 80 cars, and a 5,000-square-foot sports complex with a (very of the moment) pickleball court. Why, of all the places they looked at in Los Angeles, did Bennifer end up picking this particular megamansion?
For most normal people, pulling out of a house you’ve gotten an offer accepted on is something to be avoided: in many markets right now, just getting to that step is a big deal. But the couple reportedly pulled out of escrow on three different deals over the last two years before settling on Wallingford Estates. At face value, the properties they abandoned don’t look wildly different from the one they settled on: they ranged from $34 to $64 million, were in high-income neighborhoods like the Pacific Palisades, and were essentially compounds, with many bedrooms, bathrooms, and all the amenities two megastars could want. The couple were also spotted looking at a number of other similar homes listed for as high as $85 million. “We haven’t been offered any legit explanation for why J. Lo and Ben keep changing their minds…all we know is that they simply can’t commit, and this is the most recent example,” TMZ wrote following the last drop out. Of one of the properties the pair were looking at, the website added: “From what we can see, it looks about as nice as everything else they’ve been perusing.”
But according to Eric Lavey, a Beverly Hills real estate agent with Sotheby’s (who recently sold Tom Cruise’s Telluride mansion for $40 million), this kind of indecision is not uncommon among high-profile buyers. A big reason these sorts of deals fall through, he says, is concern about privacy and security: Buyers may think a property is perfect, but then their security details come in and tell them otherwise. (Maybe the home isn’t quite paparazzi proof; maybe the grounds don’t have enough space to accommodate security checkpoints.) Then sometimes A-list clients “fall in love and then quickly fall out of love with something,” Lavey says. “They bring their team over, and maybe somebody nixes it or puts some doubt in their mind, and all of sudden, it doesn’t work. These deals are done until they are absolutely done, even to the last day.”
Juliette Hohnen, a Beverly Hills agent with Douglas Elliman who has seen several celebrity clients through the home-buying process, says that when two A-listers come together to purchase a home, things get even more complicated, especially if they are blending families like Affleck and Lopez. Hohnen says she once represented two celebrities who had recently gotten together, and they each had children—a “sort of Brady Bunch situation.”
“We were in about three or four escrows where they would move into the house, and they would sort of fall in love with the romance of the house,” she recalls. “And then they really thought about it: Okay, we are going to have five kids in this house, are all the five bedrooms equal, are all the children gonna be happy?” Those kinds of concerns can quickly scuttle a deal when money is no object.
So what does make a $50-million-plus home perfect for a couple like Ben and Jen? Hohnen and Lavey both affirm that high-profile clients are looking for privacy and security first and foremost. After that, they typically want a home that has enough bedroom and office space for their assistants, nannies, and other support staff. “It’s sort of like a little village at the high end,” Hohnen says. Lavey concurs, noting that many homes that are developed with A-listers and business magnates in mind have a “backstage,” where support staff can cook, do laundry, and otherwise cater to their employers, and a “center stage,” where celebs can live, work, and entertain in some manner of privacy. “They can have staff and service pop in and out of different areas of the house without having to feel it,” he explains.
Another hot item on celebrity wishlists right now is a built-in spa, Hohnen says, like the one Gwyneth Paltrow showed off to Architectural Digest last year. Affleck and Lopez’s new home has one, complete with a sauna, massage room, and hair and nail salon. These kinds of details matter, especially to celebrities who are used to having things exactly as they like them. Affleck and Lopez both had their own palatial Los Angeles properties before they got married: Affleck sold his Pacific Palisades dad-pad for $28 million last year, and Lopez has now listed her Bel Air mansion—complete with a 100-seat performance venue and its own private lake—for $42 million. “They’re both very successful, she’s a megastar and he’s an incredible director now,” Hohnen says. “I’m sure she has a long list of what she simply must have, and I’m sure he’s not a pushover, so he probably has a list too. You’ve got to keep everybody happy.”
Bennifer’s new 38,000-square-foot home was designed with this particular kind of client in mind: The property was developed by Gala Asher, who is known for building uber-expensive spec mansions throughout Southern California and selling them to celebrities. (In 2020, he sold Kylie Jenner a $36 million spec house in Holmby Hills.) The Wallingford property originally went on the market for $135 million in 2018 and was most recently listed at $75 million, so Affleck and Lopez got something of a deal.
Hopefully, they’re happy, and it looks like this move is going to stick: TMZ already has aerial photos of movers unloading several trucks worth of furniture outside the home. Luckily, they have plenty of parking.
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