The Malibu Real Estate Report


Rick Wallace

Condo sales in Malibu are a three percent problem

By Rick Wallace / Special to The Malibu Times

The rumors that condominium sales in Malibu so far this year are so few they can be counted on both hands are untrue. But it’s close. At a pace of one sale every 11 days, Malibu transactions among condos are the slowest in a generation. Through May, only 14 deals have been completed, and most of those have been at elite properties on or near the beach. Large complexes with more affordable units-such as Malibu Villas, Tivoli Cove, Malibu Canyon Village, Malibu Gardens, Zumirez View Terrace and Malibu Bay Club-boast a total of only four sales among them all, despite 550 existing units.

This year is projected to see 34 total sales out of all 1,200 condos in the 90265 ZIP code north of Topanga, or less than 3 percent of those that exist.

A year with only 3 percent of all condos selling is a problem for local unit owners. Mirroring a phenomenon in the market for homes as well, the number of available units listed for sale at this writing has swelled to 80. As such, the inventory of properties, if no others came on the market, would take nearly two and a half years for all the units to sell. Prices are in retreat.

What is the solution?

When lenders loosen up funds and qualifying standards, many first-time buyers can get back into a market that has been relatively unaffordable to them for years.

The Malibu Villas complex across from Paradise Cove wears perhaps the gloomiest face of the Malibu marketplace. Thirteen units are listed at this writing; six other units have been for sale since the beginning of 2007. But only two units have sold among 19 units available during the past 17 months; none this year. The higher of those two sales was at $765,000. Nevertheless, 11 of the 13 units actively on the market are still trying to get above that price and most are seeking a drastic increase yet from that most recent comparable.

Meanwhile, the Zuma Bay Villas have had the best year in Malibu so far of all complexes, such as it has been. Two units have sold. The most money received so far, however, in the gated, pristine ocean-view location in the back of Point Dume was $1,550,000, on the heels of several $2 million-plus sales in the past two years.

The Malibu Canyon Village along Civic Center Way can also claim two sales this year, but one, in a prime location, garnered a less-than-impressive $640,000, and a more standard unit sold for $525,000. Several listings at more than $800,000 in the complex have floundered on the market during recent times.

Three sales of large Pacific Coast Highway townhouses just north of Moonshadows Restaurant along the beach are the only reason the average price has not shown a greater plunge.

For much of the decade, sales topping 100 were the norm. Last year, Malibu got its first sniff of a troubled market when the typically less than $1 million marketplace in condos partially dried up. This year, it is fully dry. The adjacent chart tracks the rise of condo values and sales in recent years, and the collapse to where we are today, with minimal sales. All the approximately 1,200 condos that exist from Topanga to Point Mugu were tracked in this study.

For many complexes, the one sale of 2008 represents a new, eye-opening comparable. The Outrigger at Carbon Beach has had one sale, at less than $1.2 million. Maison de Ville’s one sale was at only $750,000. At the Pointe, one deal barely topped $1 million. Nothing has sold in the Dume-Heathercliff area, nor has any sale transpired at Tivoli Cove. Malibu Villas has had nothing since last year. Vista Pacifica (adjacent Webster School), the Zumirez View Terrace townhouses and nearby Portico, as well as units on Tapia in Malibu West, have all gone without any 2008 sales.

Rick Wallace of the Coldwell Banker Company has been a Realtor in Malibu for 20 years. He can be reached at his web site,