LOS ANGELES — For Sale: 360 N. Rockingham, one of the best-known addresses in the world during the O.J. Period of the late 20th century.
Shown by appointment only, to pre-qualified buyers. And to everyone else over national television.
After five weeks of renovation, an Orange County contractor is wrapping up work at O.J. Simpson's former Brentwood home and turning it over to the three Fred Sands Estates agents who will market the home for its first private showings and conduct the largest "open house" the country has ever seen.
The house will be seen on national TV early next week as more than a dozen film crews from news to tabloid shows tour the seven-bedroom, 6,000-square-foot house on almost an acre in one of Los Angeles' toniest neighborhoods.
The tours are part of a marketing plan created to sell the house after Simpson lost the property through foreclosure to Hawthorne Savings.
The house came on the market with Fred Sands Estates at $3.95 million in August, but it wasn't until after Simpson moved out in September that the house could be refurbished and the showings could begin.
The estate has been a high-profile property since the June 1994, slayings of Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman. Aerial views of the property were broadcast nationwide when Simpson pulled into the driveway at the end of his freeway chase, and the neighborhood was besieged by television news crews during Simpson's criminal trial. Simpson was acquitted on criminal charges in the case but later lost a civil court trial and was found liable for $33.5 million.
Neither the bank nor Sands, however, considers the Simpson house to be a stigmatized property, "because no crime was committed there," Sands said.
The listing agents--Joe Babajian, Edith Kirshner and Jody Fine--are preparing for the TV crews, potential buyers and about 100 real estate agents who specialize in high-end properties.
An invitation-only open house is planned for the agents, Sands said. "We don't want this to turn into a circus."
Sands' agents are pre-qualifying the potential buyers. So far, from a list of 100, about half appear to be qualified, Sands said this week.
"If it's a known head of a movie studio or president of a large company, if they have $1 million in the bank or the bank is willing to finance them, then we will show the house to them," Sands said.
Some who have expressed interest in the house were guests in the home when Simpson was only known as a football star-turned-actor. "They went to some of his parties then," Sands said.
Among the potential buyers, Kirshner said, are industrialists, international investors and a "well-known TV star," whom she would not identify.
A prominent Beverly Hills real estate broker who insisted on anonymity already has made an offer of $3.25 million, but the bank is "not looking to discount the property at all," said Hawthorne Savings executive Yoichi Kawamura. "It's a lot of land, and it's in a good area, Brentwood Park, just north of Sunset."
The asking price is conservative, according to Cecelia Waeschle, an estate director with Coldwell Banker Previews who has tracked high-end home sales and listings on the Westside for 10 years.
The highest sale in Brentwood was $8.4 million for a 13,000-square-foot house in 1996, she said. The same year, a house the same size as Simpson's sold for $3.1 million, but it was only on half an acre. "For the extra land and for the current, hotter market, the Simpson house should go in the 4s [$4-million range]," she said.
"It's also on one of the best streets in Brentwood," she said.
Simpson lived in the 56-year-old house for 20 years, and although he had made some room additions and repairs, the house was dark, dingy and overgrown with vines and shrubbery, Sands said.
"O.J. hadn't done a heck of a lot recently to keep up the house, and there was some water damage from past rains," Kawamura said. "But mostly, the bank wanted to make it lighter, brighter and more cheerful."
So for the last five weeks, Richard L. Hall Jr. and his family-owned La Linda Homes, based in Orange, had a crew of 30 to 40 people working each day to get the house ready for showing by the end of the month.
They removed and replaced the wood floors that had buckled, and they stripped and refinished the other floors while fixing leaks in the sun decks, rewiring lights and restoring wood paneling.
They also installed two skylights in what had been Kato Kaelin's room and replaced the infamous air conditioner, which police believed Simpson had bumped into as he sneaked behind Kaelin's room, dropping a bloody glove.
The bank installed a new stove and refrigerator in the kitchen and new appliances in a kitchen next to the tennis court and in a wet bar just outside the thermostatically controlled wine cellar.
The house also got new carpeting and fresh paint, inside and out. The tennis court was resurfaced, a small bridge outdoors was rebuilt and the playhouse was repainted and fixed up with a new floor.
Three basketball hoops by the tennis court also got freshly painted backboards and new nets, and the deck of the gazebo, between the tennis court and pool, was rebuilt. The pool has a waterfall, water slide and cave.
Hall's crew also trimmed the trees, cut back the vines that had covered the windows and planted flowers.
The Times' Web site has an interactive floor plan of the Simpson house that allows you to view many of its rooms. Go to http://www.latimes.com/simpson