The Malibu Real Estate Report

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Prices hold in 2001 among much fewer sales

By Rick Wallace

Special to The Malibu Times

Despite more than 100 fewer homes sold during the year, prices in 2001 inched slightly higher throughout Malibu in a year of confusing, mixed results.

Approximately 237 homes sold during the year, down from 346 in 2000, a decrease of more than 30 percent. The number of sales on the beach plummeted more than 40 percent.

Nevertheless, most neighborhoods boasted the highest average sale price ever. The mean average price of a Malibu home sale crept up also, from $1.7 million to more than $1.8 million.

The extremes of the marketplace were obvious, as many huge sales caught the headlines, but homes less than $1 million saw a greater proportion of the action. As a result, while the average price rose, the median price dropped, an unusual circumstance that made for a year of what was essentially a standoff between buyers and sellers.

In 2000, the busiest year in Malibu real estate history by far, half the homes sold for $1,250,000 or more, the median price. Last year, however, the median dropped to about $1,150,000 as buyers sought more affordable accommodations.

Thanks to low interest rates and a low inventory throughout the year (which rests at yet skimpier levels currently), prices held despite fewer buyers.

The following chart summarizes the complete activity of home sales for the past four years in Malibu and the 90265 postal areas. Only homes are included in the survey; condominiums and mobile homes are excluded. Outlying areas, such as Topanga, Calabasas and Agoura, are also excluded.

The results are a compilation of all sales recorded in the local Multiple Listing Service, and a review of title records for every home in Malibu. Neighborhoods of common value and geography are combined.

It should be noted that small samples can be deceiving. Most neighborhoods feature homes in wildly differing price categories-it is just a question of which levels sell during the year. The chart primarily provides an idea of the general price levels of all the Malibu neighborhoods, whether on the beach, on a bluff overlooking the ocean or off the sand (considered “land side”).

Additionally, price trends upward are demonstrated in this survey. The 2001 median value is also noted for each neighborhood.

The highlights:

  • 2001 had, by far, the fewest home sales of any of the past four years. Sept. 11 had little effect on the pace of sales; all during the year, escrows were closing at a 70 percent pace from the year 2000.
  • The mean average of a home sale increased to a staggering $1,832,000. That is, $434 million in volume divided by 237 homes sold. The increase was 7 percent.
  • The median price decreased 8 percent, down to about $1,149,000.
  • Neighborhoods that generally sold below $1 million had a greater rate of attention and sales than higher priced locales.
  • There were no sales in Serra Retreat or on La Costa Beach.
  • The highest sale in Malibu history, $31 million, was the only sale on Encinal Bluffs. Seven homes accounted for 20 percent of the entire volume ($86 million).
  • Twenty-nine of the 51 neighborhoods described here had the highest average home sale of any of the past four years.
  • Neighborhoods with less than 5 sales do not necessarily give a reliable gauge of value unless the average sale price was in line with recent years or the median average. Because the sales were few in 2001, many neighborhoods fall within that caveat.
  • In many neighborhoods, specific homes sold far above the prevailing averages, noted by an asterisk *, causing discrepancies in the neighborhood values.
  • The higher-priced neighborhoods tended toward bulging averages, nevertheless, an indicator that the overall health of the Malibu marketplace was sound.

Rick Wallace of the Coldwell Banker company has been a realtor in Malibu for 14 years. He can be reached at RICKMALIBUrealestate.com.