Malibu keeps pace with region, state


The medium price of a home sale in Malibu is up $153,000 from last year. The market is also doing well regionally and statewide with home prices up 10 percent in the county and 15 percent in California.

By Rick Wallace/Special to The Malibu Times

Outside the friendly confines of our sleepy village, a torrid real estate market has sent prices to unprecedented levels. Both regional and state averages are at all-time highs, and increasing at near all-time rates.

In the state of California as a whole, prices are up nearly 15 percent just since the beginning of the year. In Los Angeles County, the market is up more than 10 percent so far. That begs the question: Is Malibu, with breathtaking prices to begin with, able to keep pace?

The answer is: Yes.

The median price of a Malibu home sale, based on very strong results through April, has already increased $153,000 from last year. 2003 saw the median at $1,662,000, which represents the price where half the homes sold for less and half sold for more. Based on 100 home sales this year, the median is up to $1,815,000.

Furthermore, since the end of 2002, prices throughout Malibu, the Southern California region and the entire state are all up about 33 percent. That is, almost anywhere you go, prices have been increasing about two percent per month.

These statistics apply to single-family homes only. For the Malibu area, homes within the 90265 zip code are included. The chart on page A14 tracks the evolution of median prices since 1996 in the nation, state, region, county and the local area.

Broken down into homes that are sand-adjacent (on the beach or a bluff above the beach) or homes situated off the sand, both categories are actually up more than 10 percent this year. They are also more than 33 percent higher since the end of 2002 and more than 75 percent since the end of 2000.

Malibu can consider it a victory that it is keeping pace. Effectively, Malibu got a head start on the current bull market in the period of 1996-2000. Malibu saw better than 50 percent increases in values while the rest of the region and state were moving up in the 25 percent range. Since 2000, when the rest of the state caught up, Malibu has held its own on a percentage basis, while producing gains that bust through standard tax breaks.

Nationally, homes badly lag in the crushing dynamics of supply and demand that have sent California home prices soaring. This is the first time the California median price has topped $400,000. While Los Angeles-area prices and state prices are about double the national average, Malibu is more than ten times higher than the nation. This is also unprecedented.

It may seem confusing that the separate markets of beach and landside homes both have huge increases, but Malibu as a whole boasts lesser jumps. It is a fluke of statistics, but it is accurate. The Malibu median price is much heavier-weighted toward landside sales. So far this year, 84 homes have sold off the beach, but only 16 on the sand. Since so many typical sales are near the range of the current median, it seems to move slower.

Nevertheless, few typical Malibu homeowners living anywhere in Malibu, can complain about the $200,000 equity produced on their home over just four months. The condo market has seen similar stratospheric rises. Of the 100 homes sales this year (equal to the pace of last year), only 11 have been for less than $1 million. By contrast, 17 have been in excess of $4 million.

As you can see by the chart, since the market began to rise in 1997, Malibu prices on the land side and on the whole are up more than two and a half times. On the beach, they have more than tripled, with the median up 223 percent.

Rick Wallace of the Coldwell Banker company has been a Realtor in Malibu for 16 years. He can be reached at