The Malibu Real Estate Report: Malibu Median Home Prices up 37 Percent During 2020

Rick Wallace

Under the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic, Malibu real estate propelled to the best six month period in history to finish 2020, sending values far beyond any past record. The median price of a home sale went from $3.6 million in 2019 to $4.94 million during 2020, an unprecedented 37 percent increase in value. The climb took place almost entirely since the mid-year mark, the most unexpected and dynamic explosion of sales and value increases that Malibu had ever seen. 

Amazingly, out of 266 sales of homes in the 90265 zip code last year, the middle point representing the median was just shy of $5 million. With total volume destroying all previous records, the average price of a home cleared $6.3 million.

The investment in higher priced Malibu real estate was almost breathless in the past six months, with enough business completed in that time to equal all of 2010-11. In total, about $1.25 billion of sales, including both Multiple Listing Service—visible transactions—and a few dozen private deals exposed in public records, took place since July 1. The previous record for an entire year had been $1.47 billion for all of 2017.

In every way and from every angle, Malibu real estate hit almost unimaginable heights last year, highlighted by the totally unexpected nature of the sales explosion during COVID.

One hundred ninety-three closed escrows occurred since the mid-year point, essentially one every day, bringing with them several million dollars each transaction. After seeing volume just short of $400 million by the end of June, the total volume for homes only (excluding condos and mobile homes, as well as vacant land) finished at $1,679,698,000, shattering the old record.

And how about a median price of practically $5 million? Where else in the world does a real estate zone of 15,000 residents boast such a staggering sum? Such is the culmination of this century (so far) that saw median values at: year 2000: $1,250,000; year 2005: $2,500,000, year 2010: $2,425,000; year 2015: $2,742,000.

The 37.2 percent increase in the median value essentially ties a previous Malibu record going back the past 50 years: In 1999, values went up 37.3 percent in one year. That was all of 1999, however. Last year saw the appreciation occur in the span of months. Through June, the median had been hovering around the $4 million mark, an increase from 2019, but one based on sketchy sales. The median of the 193 sales from that point on was actually $5.15 million. Buyers could hardly keep up with what was going on. 

It is now clearly concluded: One answer to all the turmoil, pandemic, unrest, division and strife of 2020? Malibu real estate became intensely more coveted.

Condo sales and extensive sales of burn-out lots from the 2018 Woolsey Fire were collateral benefits from the rally. Both markets saw very robust business. The focus on homes and estates, for now, featured 43 deals of more than $10 million. Last year there were 16.

As said, these tallies are culled mostly from the local MLS, but also from thorough review of public records that reveal bona fide private transactions and their prices, whether brokers and commissions were involved or not. 

Malibu real estate has been growing in value exponentially faster than in the rest of California. In 1975, the median in Malibu was about double that of California. In 1997, it went to a factor of four times greater. In 2000, the California median price was about $240,000, about one-fifth that of Malibu at the time. This year, the factor has grown to about seven times, as California has achieved a record high $700,000 median home price, but Malibu is seven times higher. 

Unsurprisingly, the beach and bluff market was beyond gangbusters during the year, with 81 sales recorded. That compares to the all-time record year of 88 sales in 2000, when there over 350 total transactions in Malibu, not 266 like last year.

Sixty of those deals took place the second half of the year! (For yet another comparison, Malibu beach sales have topped 60 for entire years, only twice since 2005). About $860 million in volume was produced from beach and bluff activity. Whatever the concerns with global warming, the economy or anything else, the wealthier set needed to get to the beach, and badly, during 2020.

The average transaction price of those beach and bluff sales: more than $10 million each. 

The number of $5 million trades went from 50 in 2019 to 132 last year.

The first full month of the shutdown, April, saw only five homes close escrow. It seemed real estate had shut down as well. But August and October both saw 40-plus sales months, a breathtaking pace of closings. It was so busy, some equivalent months of April happened on a single afternoon later in the year.


Rick Wallace of Keller Williams Realty has been a Realtor in Malibu for 33 years and a contributor of real estate articles to the Malibu community for 27 years.