Fanned by the Los Angeles Times' very plugged-in Hot Property columnist and real estate reporter Lauren Beale, rumors have flared that President Obama and his family have bought a home in the California desert.
Beale's sources say Obama is in escrow on a 3-acre property in Rancho Mirage's Thunderbird Heights, an exclusive gated community once home to Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.
It has a 20-foot waterfall with a lagoon, a putting green with a sandtrap, and more recreational opportunities. Click here or on a photo for a slideshow of the home.
The home had been listed for as much as $12.5 million over the past few years, but most recently landed at $4.25 million, and real estate agent Marc Lange suggested back in May that the seller would be willing to take $4 million. Lange and his colleague Carl Blea hold the listing at HOM Sotheby's International Realty.
Local real estate watchers speculated last month that the Obamas might be interested in the house. The local Desert Sun newspaper reported that the Obamas might be house-hunting in the area, and even offered some advice, with the Thunderbird Heights pad its top pick. Meanwhile, Variety's Mark David, aka the Real Estalker, said that if they were house-hunting in the desert, then "surely they had a look-see at the most expensive listing currently on the open market in Thunderbird Heights, a contemporary compound on a gated, 3.29 acre valley view lot with a $4.25 million price tag."
The Sun even asked the White House last week whether President Obama bought the property. (Its reporters had asked listing agent Blea about the sale a couple of weeks earlier, Blea "told the Desert Sun that he could not talk about the buyer's identity.") "The White House would neither confirm nor deny the statement," the Sun reported.
The Times' Beale reported that the White House flatly denied "rumors regarding a home in Rancho Mirage," but that multiple real estate agents in the area told her the Obamas were the buyers. The compound is indeed in escrow, according to the listing.
The main house has 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths and a "master retreat with gym, tanning and spa rooms" in 6,100 square feet, according to the listing. There's also a 2,000-square-foot "casita" -- perfect for the Secret Service, perhaps? -- with 3 bedrooms and 3 baths. The grounds' 3 acres also include a pool and two spas. Elevators ease travel at the compound. (Click here or on a photo for a slideshow of the home.)
Because the property is on a hilltop abutting a bighorn sheep preserve, it's exceptionally private and secure, the listing says.
The owner of the home is named William A. Robinson, property records show. Granted, that's a very common name, but we do know that reclusive millionaire William Armsted Robinson -- an early owner of DHL courier service -- has a home in Rancho Mirage. And the DHL millionaire's home certainly sounds like the one that the Obamas are reportedly buying: Court filings from a rather bizarre sexual-harassment suit against him contain details about William Armsted Robinson's Rancho Mirage home -- guest house, elevator, golf cart -- that match this Thunderbird Heights estate.
Coincidentally, the DHL millionaire was a big donor to Arnold Schwarzenegger's causes during the Republican's tenure as California governor.
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