Average Malibu home sale price up 16%

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The average price of a home sold in Malibu in 2004 was $2.8 million. The median home price rose in 2004 by 26 percent to $2.1 million.

By Rick Wallace/Special to The Malibu Times

Riding the backs of about 300 local home buyers and a Southern California region hot with demand, the value of Malibu real estate increased 16 percent for an average home sale last year. With scant inventory all throughout 2004, buyers were willing to step up and send the average price of a Malibu home sale to more than $2.8 million.

The median price, rising throughout the year, finished better than expected at $2.1 million, indicating the Malibu market over $2 million is not only flourishing, it is commonplace. The median price, nearly $1 million more than just three years ago, posted a 26 percent gain for just one year. And that on the heels of median increases of 20 percent and 21 percent the two previous years.

The table below shows the general trends of Malibu prices in all sections of Malibu over the last four years; 2001 was considered to be a flat or average year. The three years since have been gangbusters.

The early returns for 2005 are as expected; fewer sales, but at higher prices. Just more than 50 homes are known to have sold in the 90265 zip code this year through March, less than the pace of the past few years. Considering the lack of homes for sale, that makes sense. Meanwhile, prices have been high. The median of those sales has been $2.3 million, a good jump from last year already. In just the first three months, six beach and bluff estates sold for $7 million or more. Off the beach, values have been eye-catching, with a median of $1.9 million and average sale price of nearly $2.2 million. The Sea View Estates had five closed sales in the first three months.

At the end of March, besides $176 million in escrows closed already, another $160 million was pending in escrow for Malibu homes alone. Another record-breaking year appears to be in the works.

Three hundred total home sales has been considered a great year, though common in recent times and always indicative of rising prices. Combined with inventory that is about 30 percent of what it was 10 years ago, buyers have willingly paid more to secure their foot in Malibu’s home ownership door, mostly thanks to low interest rates.

As the chart indicates, volume was at about $833 million for houses alone. Including condo, mobile home and vacant land sales, Malibu was in the shadow of $1 billion in real estate transfers. Just three years ago, half a billion was unattainable.

The 57 sales last year on the beach and bluffs overlooking and adjacent to the sand averaged $5.77 million.

Virtually all of Malibu, every neighborhood and type of real estate, has had a general value increase of about 65 percent since 2001 ended. The median price of a home, where half the sales are for less, and half the sales are for more, was at $801,000 in 1998. It cracked the $1 million barrier in 1999, rose to $1.25 million in 2000, dropped in 2001 and has jetted skyward since.

This summary is for single family homes in Malibu only, homes with a zip code of 90265, within city limits or not. The tally is taken from a number of sources, public and otherwise, and tracks the result of every home listed for sale in the Multiple Listing Service since 2000.

Some home sales that were secretly transacted recently may be identified later, but the statistics herein give an accurate reflection of the trends and percentage increases locally. Meanwhile, most economic indicators are in good shape compared to the past 10 years and with an edge to demand over supply in the region, the boom times continue despite affordability indexes that might suggest otherwise.

Those predicting a slowdown may have a point, considering the lack of homes for sale. Nevertheless, sales are quick for those homes marketed, in general, and final sale prices remain close to list prices on average, with multiple offers resulting in occasional sales at full or over asking price. Thus, prices don’t seem heading downward for some time. “Slower” or “fewer” sales does not necessarily mean lower prices, particularly under current conditions.

A few years ago the general range of home sales in Malibu tended between $500,000 and $4 million. Now most sales are between $1.5 million and $5 million. The result has been a greater increase in the median price compared to the mean average. The median is up 83 percent since the end of 2001, a phenomenal jump; the average sale price is up 55 percent. That means the market has been powering best in the lower and mid-price ranges, where the force of weighty Southern California appreciation hits Malibu hardest. The lower prices are moving up faster than the higher prices, a healthy sign for the community as a whole.