Celebrity Rentals: Why Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Rent

celebrity rentalsOne year ago, it was reported that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were interested in a $200,000/month rental in the Trump Park Avenue at Park Avenue and 59th Street in Manhattan, only the latest in a string of prominent celebrity rentals. Cruise's Mission Impossible 4 was about to begin shooting and would, in part, be filmed in the city.

When you think of the super-rich – people like the Cruises – it is easier to imagine titles changing hands quicker than leases. After all, how could someone with the expansive resources of celebrities, trust fund babies and CEOs actually be interested in renting?

It would seem, in the era of abandoned luxury apartment sales, luxury rentals are on the rise. Here's why:

1. Mobility

In the case of the Jolie-Pitts who spent most of 2009 renting a $60 million sprawling estate on Long Island, renting allows them the leeway to live as citizens of the world. Angie, Brad and their brood of six seem to like the freedom renting gives them. The summer of 2008 found them signing a three year lease on a 35 bedroom French Chateau on the French Riviera. Currently, their $27,000/month Budapest rental is a ten room villa with a private lake.

2. Respite

One year ago, after Elin Woods left a badly beaten down Tiger, she found herself moving into a nearby Florida rental. However, when most people think "rental," they are probably not picturing a five-bedroom mansion with a steam room and two kitchens. But when you are a woman spurned, eating and steaming might be exactly what the doctor ordered.

The former Mrs. Woods also purchased an island mansion in Sweden around the same time. Perhaps her Florida rental was a way to tie up the loose ends of her crumbling marriage before she could return to her native Sweden and begin a new Tiger-free life.

3. Fear of Commitment

A New York Times article suggests that the wealthy could be coming down with a case of good old-fashioned commitment-phobia. As more luxury sales are put on hold, they are being turned at a tremedous rate into luxury rentals. While it's true that prodigious riches allow for a certain amount of stability in life, they can also impart a great level of freedom.

4. Transient Work

In the era of The 4-Hour Work Week –- the Tim Ferris best seller that insits one can work hard while hardly working –- jobs are temporary and require more travel. Obviously, movie stars are made to work in a new city with nearly every project in which they are cast. An entrepreneur like Victoria Beckham has to be in New York, Paris or London to hock her fashion line on any given day of the week. Similarly athletes -- from Beckham's soccer star husband, to any player in the NFL, MLB or NBA -- getting traded to a new city is practically as common as scoring. Mobility is the name of the game, and renting is a great way to avoid having too many loose ends to tie up when it's time to go.

5. Discriminating Taste

Another reason the wealthy might rent is to ensure that when they buy, they are buying right. Especially in cities like New York and San Francisco where sellers are willing to sit on properties until they get their asking price, buyers are increasingly waiting patiently to get the prices they want to pay. Renting in the meantime becomes the most appealing option.

Tomkat and Suri did not end up renting in the Trump Park Avenue. Ultimately they decided it was not worth their while to sign the one-year lease required by management -- only to pack up and leave for the next city on MI4's widespread shooting-agenda. They wanted something more...temporary.

But the nice thing about being rich is that you can always afford to say no.

Want to know how to deal with other rental issues? Here are some AOL Real Estateguides that can help:
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