Barbie’s packing up, leaving Malibu, selling Dreamhouse for $25 million

Jennifer Karmon

From Yahoo! Homes' ever-busy What the ... Department (of which I am executive director, treasurer and receptionist), here is perhaps the most bizarre property listing you'll ever come across:

Barbie's Dreamhouse is listed on Trulia for $25 million.

That's right. The pink plastic one. The one that isn't real*.

Stories like this are always tricky to report. It's a naked gambit by Mattel for publicity, of course, which probably ought to make it an automatic "ignore." (And darn it, the listing isn't on the Yahoo!-Zillow Real Estate Network, either. Boooo.) But at the same time it's a little, well, irresistible ... right? We're assuming some part of you must agree if you're reading this.

So we're succumbing to temptation.

The story goes that Barbie has lived in Malibu, Calif., for more than 40 years, but she's ready for a change. She says she's open to "all seven continents" and is eager to try out her skills with "over 37 languages" she's picked up in her lifetime. And she doesn't require anything beyond the "basics" -- including "a never-ending closet, transforming furniture, a Glitterizer ... " (How do we know this? We watched Barbie's video interview about the impending move, of course!)

One of the photos from the property listing. Click this photo or the one at the top to go to see more images from the listing in a slideshow.
One of the photos from the property listing. Click this photo or the one at the top to go to see more images from the listing in a slideshow.

She has hired celebrity Realtor Josh Altman, star of Bravo TV's "Million-Dollar Listing," who's marketing it as "the ultimate bachelorette compound" with "clean lines, sparkly surfaces, dazzling details, and soaring ceilings" -- an "innovatively scaled" home with three stories, 8,500 square feet and a single bedroom. (Click here or on either photo above to go to a slideshow of photos from the property listing.)

The listing says it's "the only house in Malibu with a truly unobstructed view of the ocean (after all, it only has three walls)" as well as "a self-flushing toilet and fireplace that crackles even when it's not on." It also features "voluminous 119-centimeter ceilings, pink crown molding, custom Pantone® 219C hardwood floors" and a "pink Poliform kitchen ... complete with pink granite countertops."

[More fictional fun on Yahoo! Homes: How much is the "Simpsons" house worth?]

In other media materials, Altman tells a prospective buyer about the amenities: "Let's just put it this way: Have you ever seen a pink elevator on a pulley system? ... The pink car and the pink boat? Those items are sold separately."

(In real life, Altman does have actual L.A.-area listings: 6698 Whitley Terrace for $899,000, 3549 N. Knoll Drive for $2.4 million, 1642 N. Crescent Heights Blvd. for $1.6 million and 1301 Sunset Plaza Drive for just shy of $2 million.)

It's the kickoff of a yearlong brand campaign, and we have to admit, we found ourselves getting immersed in the narrative in spite of ourselves. As Stephanie Cota, a Mattel senior vice president for global marketing, puts it: "People really want to know what's going on in her life." Given Barbie's 7 million-strong Facebook following, we're not inclined to argue.

If it's true that 90 percent of girls age 3 to 10 own at least one Barbie, and that the average number owned by girls 3 to 6 is a dozen, as Mattel says, then it's not hard to imagine the campaign picking up steam.

The 1979 Dreamhouse. Click the photo for a slideshow of designs through the decades.
The 1979 Dreamhouse. Click the photo for a slideshow of designs through the decades.

And with savvy details like Barbie's enlistment of a "Dream Team of interior designers [including] Los Angeles-based textile designer and design influencer Lulu Dekwiatkowski, New York/Palm Beach based designer Celerie Kemble and West Coast fashion and home product designer Trina Turk" -- as the news release reports -- then there's a pretty decent chance that grown-ups will, like us, grow guiltily curious, too.

We can't help but wonder where she'll ultimately settle and -- more significant for Mattel -- we're pretty interested to see the design of the new Dreamhouse, which is set to go on sale in toy stores around Christmas. Is it possible that the new model will be less of a monstrous confection?

Please, Lulu and Celerie and Trina, make it be so!

Tell us in the comments: Where do you think Barbie should move to? And what should a Dreamhouse look like in 2013? (We've also put together a slideshow of Barbie Dreamhouse designs through the decades; click here or on the 1979 photo to take a look.)

*Note: Just to be crystal-clear, nothing is really for sale. Although real people and businesses like Trulia are participating in Mattel's branding campaign, the narrative is entirely fictional. However, Mattel really will be releasing a new Dreamhouse design in toy stores for the holidays this year, and as far as we can tell, it truly is taking design input from real-life designers. (According to the news release, Barbie is "partnering with a group of admired style setters, designers and industry experts to re-imagine the Barbie Dreamhouse for today.") And to make things even more meta/confusing, Mattel will be building full-size Barbie Dreamhouses worldwide for fans to walk through in a "Dreamhouse Experience"; the first ones will open in Florida and Berlin this month.

If you want to read even more about the Barbie Dreamhouse -- and we wouldn't blame or judge you for it -- the New York Times has an interesting article about the branding campaign. Plus, a few months ago, our friends at Curbed wrote an interesting post about the controversial Architect Barbie; Curbed has also written a fun post about the current Dreamhouse campaign.