WhatsApp Co-founder Jan Koum Pays $109 Million For Home Next Door
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WhatsApp Co-founder Jan Koum Pays $109 Million For Home Next Door

The clifftop property includes a funicular down to the ocean that was built by late country singer Kenny Rogers.

By Katherin Clarke
Wed, Feb 24, 2021 2:44amGrey Clock 2 min

Jan Koum, the co-founder of WhatsApp, is paying approx. $109 million for a Malibu, Calif. mansion right next door to one he already owns, according to two people familiar with the deal.

The transaction is the latest big-ticket deal for Mr Koum in the Los Angeles area. In 2019 he purchased the neighbouring Malibu property from entertainment executive Ron Meyer for around $126 million. Then last year Mr Koum spent approx. $157 million for the Beverly Hills estate of Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The seller in the latest transaction is Diana Jenkins, a Bosnia-born entrepreneur and philanthropist. Ms Jenkins, founder of health-drinks company Neuro Drinks, was previously married to British financier Roger Jenkins. Her home came on the market last May for US$125 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. It is on Malibu’s Paradise Cove, and its prior owners include Barry Diller and the late country singer Kenny Rogers.

Sitting on a cliff top, the property has its own funicular leading down to the ocean (Mr Rogers was slapped with a US$2 million fine by local authorities for installing it.). On nearly 3 acres, it includes a single-story, five-bedroom house with vaulted ceilings, herringbone floors and floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto the gardens. It also has a dance studio and a recording studio. On the grounds, there is a three-bedroom guesthouse, a swimming pool, a waterfall and koi pond, a sports court and a guard house.

The funicular leads an oceanfront cabana, which has retractable ceilings, a wet bar, a built-in barbecue and fire pit.

Mr Koum, 44 helped launch WhatsApp, an internet messaging service, in 2009. Following the service’s acquisition by Facebook in 2014, he remained as a Facebook director for several years before stepping down in 2018. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index pegs his net worth at $15.7 billion.

Chris Cortazzo of Compass has the listing. The buyer was represented by Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency.

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House values continued to fall last month, but the pace of decline has slowed, CoreLogic reports.

In signs that the RBA’s aggressive approach to monetary policy is making an impact, CoreLogic’s Home Value Index reveals national dwelling values fell -1.0 percent in November, marking the smallest monthly decline since June.

The drop represents a -7.0 percent decline – or about $53,400 –  since the peak value recorded in April 2022. Research director at CoreLogic, Tim Lawless, said the Sydney and Melbourne markets are leading the way, with the capital cities experiencing the most significant falls. But it’s not all bad news for homeowners.

“Three months ago, Sydney housing values were falling at the monthly rate of -2.3 percent,” he said. “That has now reduced by a full percentage point to a decline of -1.3 percent in November.  In July, Melbourne home values were down -1.5 percent over the month, with the monthly decline almost halving last month to -0.8%.”

The rate of decline has also slowed in the smaller capitals, he said.  

“Potentially we are seeing the initial uncertainty around buying in a higher interest rate environment wearing off, while persistently low advertised stock levels have likely contributed to this trend towards smaller value falls,” Mr Lawless said. “However, it’s fair to say housing risk remains skewed to the downside while interest rates are still rising and household balance sheets become more thinly stretched.” 

The RBA has raised the cash rate from 0.10 in April  to 2.85 in November. The board is due to meet again next week, with most experts still predicting a further increase in the cash rate of 25 basis points despite the fall in house values.

Mr Lawless said if interest rates continue to increase, there is potential for declines to ‘reaccelerate’.

“Next year will be a particular test of serviceability and housing market stability, as the record-low fixed rate terms secured in 2021 start to expire,” Mr Lawless said.

Statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week also reveal a slowdown in the rate of inflation last month, as higher mortgage repayments and cost of living pressures bite into household budgets.

However, ABS data reveals ongoing labour shortages and high levels of construction continues to fuel higher prices for new housing, although the rate of price growth eased in September and October. 

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