Selling Michael Jackson’s Neverland: Why Did It Take So Long?

The UK Mirror is reporting that “Neverland ‘faces demolition’ after Michael Jackson allegations ‘make it unsellable.’” The cost of the iconic ranch has now been slashed down to 70% of its original value, hoping that a buyer will come forward soon. With repeated allegations of child sex abuse during his life brought back to light due in part to the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, interest in the estate has flatlined.

Jackson’s sprawling 2,700-acre property in California was once listed at $100 million in 2015 to a shocking $31 million today, with still no prospective buyers. Ruban Selvanayagam, the co-founder of housebuyers Property Solvers, spoke with UK Mirror and said, “I suspect most of it will be demolished as I doubt many developers would want to maintain Michael Jackson’s legacy after these shocking allegations. Perhaps someone may think that Neverland could be rebranded somehow, but this would be doomed to failure in my view.”

 

But why, even before the allegations were brought back to the light, were there no serious buyers for this iconic home?

 

The owners “had to test the market and make sure they weren’t leaving any money on the table,” says Dina Landi, a real estate agent in nearby Santa Barbara. They were hoping that a Jackson mega-fan would pay for “a piece of history.”

Jonathan Miller, the president of property appraiser Miller Samuel, admitted that the $100 million price tag put onto the listing in 2015 happened during a time of “aspirational pricing,” when $50 million-plus listings were the norm in the housing market. But if you look back at those properties now, virtually none sold for their listing price; Miller says: “they were never worth that. There was hyperbole associated with a high-end property.”

 

Even a real estate broker who worked in the area who tried to represent the property back in 2015 told the owners that he would list it for $50 to $60 million.

 

While gimmick sales like this are made with a lot of homes that are associated with musicians and celebrities, it rarely works. While many assumed the estate would become Jackson’s version of Graceland, it’s dark past and the long commute from the closest major city (the City of Santa Barbara is 40 miles away) that’s not a likely outcome.

As the Jackson connection has not helped the owners unload the massive property, the co-listing agent Forsyth has removed the famous amusement park rides that littered the sprawling estate. It has returned to its original name, the Sycamore Valley Ranch, hoping that instead of its recent history, the gorgeous landscape and picturesque views will be a better way to entice the right buyer.

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