Home Mansion Impossible? Building an iPad App to Sell a $35 Million Home

Mansion Impossible? Building an iPad App to Sell a $35 Million Home

Say you want to unload a $35 million Malibu mansion. With only a few thousand qualified buyers, mass marketing and open houses just won’t do. Instead, why not send the relatively few potential buyers an iPad loaded with a custom app featuring a seductive, Hollywood-style action video showcasing the six-acre trophy property?

Why not indeed?

That’s the ambitious and perhaps unprecedented marketing plan for selling Carbon Mesa – a 9,000-square-foot, Malibu, Calif., home boasting 180-degree Pacific Ocean views. Owner DeeAnna Staats is no novice stumbling upon an eccentric sales idea; she owns a real estate and restaurant development company that specializes in turning around luxury properties.

How the Other Half Lives

Building an iPad app may seem a little crazy until you consider the upside of this business risk. Staats purchased the Malibu digs for $6.6 million in 2006. She initially planned to live there with her children. But, she says, “The more my contractor and I got into the house and saw what was possible with this amazing piece of property, the more we realized we needed to rebuild. So the Carbon Mesa you see today is very different from the original house and is virtually all-new construction.”

Her iPad/movie sales initiative may be the first of its kind but surely not the last.

“Could this change the way properties are marketed, especially at the high end? I think it’s already happening with digital media,” asks and answers Jonathan Miller, chief of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers in New York in a video release. “The iPad is a perfect delivery platform for it.”

You Had Me at Hello

Staats declined to reveal what she spent to renovate Carbon Mesa. And she didn’t want to talk about what she spent to build the app or produce a “Hollywood style” video production called “The Spider and the Fly.”

In this sub-four-minute thriller – embedded below – a sultry woman sneaks into Carbon Mesa apparently combing the house for something while the help prepares for guests. She grabs a bottle of wine and chugs it as she goes outside to survey the grounds. Then just as a man drives up, she rushes upstairs, takes a shower, and puts on a man’s clothes. He goes upstairs and – spoiler alert – it turns out that they know one another.

So how much did this whole thing cost? We conducted a Web search, clicked on a calculator app and will conservatively estimate that this snazzy production set Staats & Co back about $750,000 for the movie, the app, the iPads and the novel marketing campaign. Undoubtedly to maintain its exclusivity, Staats’ app is not available in Apple’s app store.

But is it all worth it? No doubt some of the hand-selected potential buyers will be flattered that they were targeted with such an expensive, innovative campaign. And if it helps sell the house, of course, the cost becomes negligible. If not, well…

If one of the lucky iPad recipients actually does buy Carbon Mesa, this high-profile gimmick may raise the stakes for marketing high-end properties. And yet you have to wonder if they have to try this hard to sell a property, maybe that $35 million price tag is a tad inflated?

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