Unspoiled land - a bargain at $155 million!

By Ellen Florian Kratz, Fortune writer

(Fortune Magazine) -- The real estate market is crashing? You'd hardly know it from the prices in Sotheby's fall catalog. Take Rancho El Cojo and neighboring Jalama Ranch in Santa Barbara County, Calif., on page 40. The asking price--for 24,000 acres of rolling, tree-filled hills and nine miles of prime SoCal beachfront, including three of the world's most famous surf breaks--is a cool and firm $155 million. The properties are currently in escrow under one unnamed buyer. But two deals have already fallen through this year--so if you've got the dough, you might still have a chance.

The current owners are 50 or so members of the Bixby family, which has held the land ever since rancher Fred Bixby bought it to breed horses and raise cattle early in the last century. Though they've decided to cash out, the clan is wary of developers.

"It's a superunique piece of property," says Preston Bixby Hotchkis, 77, who spent much of his youth working on the ranch. "I'm hoping it gets into the hands of somebody who has the same appreciation that we have."  Top of page