Xorin Balbes is the Los Angeles-based founder of TempleHome, a design and architecture firm, who’s been described as a “master flipper” for his work fixing up and selling some rather high-end California homes. (He recently sold a Los Feliz home he was living in for $9.7 million, or four times what he paid for it just two years ago.)
Also, in Los Feliz, Mr. Balbes restored Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1927 Snowden House and the 17th century mansion that once belonged to early 20th century screen legend Norma Talmadge.
Mr. Balbes, 60, is also the author of “SoulSpace: Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life,” which offers Marie Kondo-like advice on how to let go of objects that don’t positively affect your spirit.
We spoke to him about the importance of having an emotional connection to your property, L.A.’s mind-boggling prices and more.
Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.
Xorin Balbes: It would be set up like a retreat where a lot of self-care could happen: sauna, Jacuzzi, swim and yoga room. And also it would have to be very much set up for entertainment because I love having people in.
MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?
XB: I’ve bought everything I really wanted, but I do wish I hadn’t sold a house in Palm Springs when I did. I was moving to Maui, so I sold it in 2009. It’s now worth three times what I sold it for.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
XB: For me, it’s about how it makes me feel. It doesn’t even have to be expensive, I just need to have an emotional connection to it. Being connected to how you’re feeling is a state of luxury. Luxury is about authenticity and not trying to impress anyone.
MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
XB: People are going to want to be connected to nature more and more. You’re already seeing more people moving from the Hamptons to the Hudson Valley, for example. They want nature, acreage, and not parties and glitz.
Since we’re losing nature—because of both climate change and overdevelopment—we feel the need to hold onto it.
We’ve put so much value on oceanfront properties but what about the hillside, the woods? That’s luxury that’s just not created but is already here.
MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
XB: In Los Angeles, the area I’m most familiar with, I’m surprised at the number of homes selling for $80 million and more. There are $350 million homes on the market here. I can’t fathom that.
MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?
XB: I’ve seen a lot of amazing properties in Montecito, just outside Santa Barbara. What I love about those is that they come with a lot of land. Living in Montecito with the mountains, ocean—that’s the epitome of luxury.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
My living room. The reason being that I’ve set it up as a place to meditate. It’s very peaceful and calming to me.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
XB: I would say that it’s a Mediterranean, modern spiritual temple. I’m a yogi so that’s the way that I live. For me, it’s all about what’s sacred and I only bring something into my home if it feels sacred.
MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?
XB: It doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. In the ‘90s, I went on trip to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya and Ethiopia, and I traveled with a keeper of spiritual wisdom, who said a sacred object would come to me at some point. I found this amazing sacred object— a 22-inch long staff with all these gemstones on it here in California. And something shifted in my life at the moment that I got it. It was the demarcation of a whole new life for me.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
XB: A sacred space where you can be present, whether it’s a room or part of a room.
MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
XB: Only take the plunge and buy if your heart and whole being is engaged in it and you love it. Our environments are so important because we spend so much time there. The place we live has to have a deep sense of nurturing.
MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?
XB: Our current president. Because he has set up his administration and his communications to be like a cliffhanger reality TV show, it’s making everyone a little bit nervous and unsure about our future.
MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?
XB: It seems like Los Angeles hasn’t hit its ceiling—even in Beverly Hills, Bel Air and the Hollywood Hills. Los Feliz is now hitting its stride.
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
XB: Buying something that’s older allows you to hold on to the history and the energy of what’s happened there. I’d always go with resale.
MG: What area currently has the best resale value?
XB: In Los Angeles, Hancock Park and Los Feliz.
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