Joshua Tree’s ‘Invisible House’ could be yours for $18m
A surreal desert structure that ‘flaunts its abundance’ has attracted celebrities and more: ‘Demi Lovato saw aliens there’
Joshua Tree’s real estate boom may have reached a symbolic peak, as the desert town’s iconic, mirror-walled mansion goes on the market for $18m in what is said to be a record-setting asking price.
The Invisible House, constructed in 2019 by film producers Chris and Roberta Hanley, has hosted celebrities like Lizzo, Alicia Keys, Ariana Grande and The Weekend, and been featured in the Netflix series The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals.
The house is a surreal, box-like structure, with glinting glass walls that reflect the desert landscape, and a massive, 100ft indoor pool that stretches nearly half the length of the house. Its owners have touted the meditative aspects of the property.
“I think Demi Lovato saw aliens there,” Roberta Hanley told the Wall Street Journal.
The house had previously been available to rent for $150,000 a month, $6,000 per day, or $1,000 per hour, Mansion Global reported last summer. A rental website touted the house’s “dramatic desert contrasts” and the “oversized” pool that “flaunts its abundance in a seemingly barren land”.
The residence, which offers a modest three bedrooms and four bathrooms, has a “fully-mirrored exterior which ‘disappears’ into the surrounding desert”, as well as high-end kitchen appliances and charging stations for three Teslas.
“To our knowledge, it is the most expensive listing in Joshua Tree now,” said Matt Adam, one of the property’s listing agents.
Even if the Invisible House ends up selling for $9m, half the current asking price, “it will be the most expensive home ever sold in Joshua Tree”, local newspaper San Bernardino Sun reported.
Just a few years ago, Joshua Tree, a tiny town in California set next to a stunning national park, was a refuge for artists and oddballs, a place where locals said it was possible to rent an apartment for $500 a month.
But during the pandemic, the town’s two-hour proximity to Los Angeles, and the social media-fueled popularity of Joshua Tree national park, led to one of the largest increases in housing prices in the state. The result has been a worsening local housing crisis, with many longtime residents and local service industry employees saying that skyrocketing rental costs have forced them out of their homes.
In recent months, the booming desert housing market has started to slow. Average Joshua Tree housing sale prices were down 25% in December 2022, compared with the year before, and the number of houses sold was down by more than 50%, according to Redfin, a real estate company that publishes housing data.
The Invisible House, of course, is not even close to an average Joshua Tree home, the median price of which was $343,000 last month, according to Redfin.
Real estate agents at AKG Christie’s International Real Estate have been “bombarded with calls” from journalists and others since the house was put on the market, Adamo said.
Much of the interest so far has come from potential buyers interested in the house as an investment property, Adamo said. The house has previously brought in as much as $1.4m in income in a single year in rental and production fees, he said.
So far, there has been more interest from potential American buyers than from international customers, Adamo said, since Americans have a better understanding of the cultural appeal of Joshua Tree’s remote desert landscape, while international buyers are more interested in properties closer to the bright lights of Los Angeles, a two to three hour drive from Joshua Tree.
Chris Hanley, known for producing films like the Virgin Suicides, American Psycho, and Spring Breakers, has described the “Invisible House” as part art project, part residence, which was inspired in part by a monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey and by his old friend, Andy Warhol.
Just buying the glass for the house’s construction cost nearly $700,000, he told the Wall Street Journal. Hanley did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the property.
“It’s so close with nature and so integrated with the rock formations and everything in the desert. That’s probably the most exciting and appealing aspect,” Adamo said.
One of Adamo’s favorite aspects of the house is that “the sun literally goes from sunrise to sunset in the [master] bedroom. You could stay there all day and see the house light up in different ways from the angle of the sun and the stars”.