Potter, Pop Culture and the Property Ladder

The housing market is a fickle playing field. A Waitrose pops up somewhere, and pretty soon every house within a five-minute walk can slap a couple extra thousand onto the selling price, at least in the local estate agents’ books. On the flip side, news breaks of a local batch of troublemakers acting up and just watch the realtors sweat. Not that this is anything new. Property valuation has always hinged in part on environmental factors, but what happens when an alternative and remarkably influential measuring instrument is added to the process, which said estate agents ultimately have little control over, i.e. pop culture prestige?

If you’ve ever half-fancied the idea of THE cupboard-under-the-stairs experience, you’re in luck. It’s emerged that Harry Potter’s childhood home, 4 Privet Drive (12 Picket Post Close, Bracknell in real life) is on the market, and for no less than £475,000/$620,000/however much that would be in Gringotts cash. Whilst it’s not a particularly abnormal price for the area, the mark of the beloved boy wizard has nevertheless left a long-lasting financial imprint on the property, a very Rowling reminder of just how bonkers society can be sometimes with money. We turn our curiosity towards other such instances where prestige pricing, on pop culture grounds, played with the property ladder.


The Legendary Beverly House (The Godfather)

The two-house, five-acre Beverly Hills estate, the onetime residence of newspaper czar William Rando
The two-house, five-acre Beverly Hills estate, the onetime residence of newspaper czar William Randolph Hearst and his girlfriend, actress Marion Davies, is now priced at $135 million, furnished, or at $114 million for the main residence – reduced from its original 20xx listing. The compound centers on a 50,000-square-foot mansion built in the 1920s and retains intricately carved ceilings and paneled walls, a garden-view bar and a two-story library with hand-carved woodwork, much from Hearst’s castle at San Simeon. (Photo by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

If life ever turned out to be one long entertainment show for some audience in the heavens, this house would be practically a supporting character in its own right. Not only was this Californian kingdom once the home to William Randolph Hearst (the house itself a gift from Marion Davies), not only was it JFK’s honeymoon destination, and a frequent site of lavish extravaganzas for the rich, powerful, great and good, but above all it’s the house of the horse’s head scene in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. In 2014, the thirty-bedroom establishment went on the market for a fittingly astronomical $135million, having been bought last in 1976 for a trifle $2million.


The White House (Breaking Bad)

The home of Walter White and family in TV’s iconic and universally praised drama, and since the show’s conclusion the property in Albuquerque, New Mexico has received countless visits from fans and dealt with more pizzas thrown onto its roof than pizzas its resident family has actually eaten, in all likelihood. More interestingly however is the fact that whilst the median price for the area is just shy of $220k, Heisenberg’s home is estimated at barely over £208k. In 2013, Business Insider published the findings of a 2011 study into the damage the discovery of meth labs can inflict on home values in their vicinity, or which at least have some association. Could it be that despite its prominence in a critically adored programme, Heisenberg’s toxicity was just too much and too real for people to inhabit the same visual space? Considering that in 2015, ABC News reported the Scarface mansion was on the market 49 points down from its 2014 asking price, it’s not unimaginable.


221B Baker Street (Sherlock)

Closer to home, the London landmark that is Sherlock Holmes’ humble abode is estimated by easyproperty.com at £700k, although disclaimer: the site of the BBC’s Baker Street is actually about a mile eastwards in North Gower Street, complete with next door fully operational Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Café (they do a decent sausage and mash!). Now we can more fully understand John Watson’s eagerness every time he handles the dynamic detective duo’s fee!


Nelson Mandela House (Only Fools & Horses)

South of the river, and no doubt Sherlock’s standards, another home to some national treasures seems to be worth quite the pretty penny these days. According to the Telegraph, Delboy’s Peckham property (which is actually in Acton) would fetch roughly £330k. We can only imagine Del Boy’s eyes watering with joyful tears at the thought, which would quickly turn to anguished sobs when he learns that the high-rise tower block has in fact been demolished entirely as part of a £500m regeneration project. Something about crime and paying/not paying feels apt right about now.


The McCallisters’ (Home Alone)

How better to torment your newest realtor by assigning them to a house known around the world as the site of one of the most egregious cases of home invasion in cinematic history! In all seriousness, the famous home defended by the young Kevin McCallister did in fact prove a hard sell initially on the market, and even as late as the start of the decade it took slicing a million off the asking price for the house to get sold in 2012 at just under $1.6m.


2640 Steiner Street (Mrs Doubtfire)

To finish, a property that was impacted somewhat differently. Take a half-hour walk through San Francisco, straight up from the bay, through Chinatown, and you’ll find a house on the corner of an intersection that seems somewhat familiar. Take a closer look at the two trees flanking the steps up to the front door, and you’ll realize why, for this is the house that played host to a father-turned-housekeeper in disguise. This is the house from 90s classic comedy Mrs Doubtfire, one of the late great Robin Williams’ most memorable vehicles, with a performance so utterly convincing both in the face mask and out of it that you honestly forgot Mrs Doubtfire wasn’t a wholly separate human being. There’s no economic impact here to speak of, but those two trees denote a great value placed upon it by many nonetheless, with every leaf, every inch of trunk, every stone and inch of pavement at their base covered with messages and tributes. It’s been over two years since Williams’ passing, so it speaks even greater volumes that city authorities have allowed this made-by-many memorial to continue.

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