The Malibu Real Estate Report

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Rick Wallace

Malibu condo market has seen better days

In a city with well more than 1,000 condominium units, only about one unit has sold every two weeks during 2008. A recent accounting of 30 closed escrows through November puts the Malibu sales pace this year at only about one-fourth of the number it was just three years ago.

It follows that prices are dropping as a result, though the dearth of sales makes value estimations difficult. The adjacent chart highlights sales results of the largest condo developments in Malibu from 2004 through this year.

There has been a dramatic drop in activity since 2006. That makes sense since the regional real estate crisis first began that year at the lowest price ranges. Malibu first felt strain in the overall market from the condo realm during 2007.

Every single condo complex on the list has suffered a noticeable drop in sales or price average, in most cases both, since last year.

The activity in the condo market is key to Malibu’s overall real estate health. As it was the condo market that was first to stiffen, it is likely the condos will grease the local real estate machinery out of the current doldrums. The real estate crisis is extremely price chronological. It has taken about 18 months for the sales trickle to move from outlying regions with $150,000 homes to peaks of the real estate mountain such as in Malibu, where every price range is now feeling the squeeze. Every price tier is in an episode of value adjustment. Meanwhile, the recovery, so deemed by a vast uptick in deals, has begun in foreclosure-prone outlying areas. Inevitably, the leap in sales here will come from a rolling wave of activity across the price spectrum. Condos in Malibu will be likely the first to benefit.

In the meantime, the sooner the year 2008 is behind us, the better.

The following tallies accentuate forgettable times in the condo market:

€ Malibu Villas had 40 transactions from 2004 – 2006, but only two in the past two years (and none this year, despite up to 20 units on the market).

€ Similarly, Tivoli Cove was bursting with commotion in recent years, but has had only one sale this year out of 104 units within its beachfront gates.

€ No complex anywhere in Malibu has even seen four sales this year. The townhouses along Big Rock Beach by Moonshadows Restaurant are unaffiliated, but similar in character. Four of the 48 units have sold this year.

€ “Other land side units” primarily means the various associations along Heathercliff on Point Dume. But not a single unit has sold anywhere in that neighborhood.

€ While some town homes on the beach have brought respectable prices, as a mirror to the single-family market in Malibu, lower priced product has felt a distinct drop in values that is thorny to estimate because of so few buyers. Malibu Canyon Village, Tivoli Cove, Malibu Gardens, Zumirez View Terrace, and Malibu Villas are clearly sub-$1 million dollar locales; they have seen a total of six units sell between them-out of 411 that exist.

The statistics herein were culled from Multiple Listing Service information and a review of the public records for all the 1,163 units in the 90265 ZIP code, excluding units along Coastline Drive near the Getty Villa.

To be fair, 2004 saw the opening of the Toscana complex on De Ville Way near Webster Elementary School, boosting the numbers of that time. Just previous to that, the Vista Pacifica complex landside of Broad Beach had opened and was enjoying heavy resale movement. Nevertheless, luxury housing at both those complexes as well as The Pointe, the third newest development in town, have had a virtual shut down of sales.

The 30 sales represents about 2.5 percent of the units that exist, the same percentage as single-family homes sales, where roughly 100 homes out of 4,000 have transacted this year in Malibu.

Rick Wallace has been a Realtor in Malibu since 1987.