The Malibu Real Estate Report


Rick Wallace

Malibu’s low-end home sales almost nonexistent

The home is described in the multiple listings as a remodel from 2001, with three bedrooms and two baths. It has a large backyard that is grassy, with room for a pool and spa, possibly. The one acre of land, however, is partly unusable, down a canyon. It is on a cul-de-sac on Point Dume, though not a street close to the beach; it lacks a deeded beach key. It closed escrow early this month for $1.9 million.

Some home sales mark significant turning points for the real estate market of Malibu. This was such a case. It is the first house in 2008, after more than three months, that found a buyer for less than $2 million. Through the first 110 days of 2008, furthermore, only a handful of other homes have found buyers less than $3 million.

Contrast that to the past. In years 2004 to 2007, the number of Malibu single-family home sales, excluding mobile homes and condos, for less than $2 million: 143, 93, 57, 37, respectively. Does that mean that homes in Malibu are simply not worth less than $2 million? Absolutely not. Rather, they are starving for buyers.

More than 50 homes in the 90265 Zip code have had active market exposure for less than $2 million since the year began, producing only two sales. It is no longer convenient to say that Malibu is resilient or cushioned against the market crisis of outlying areas where the sub-prime mortgage meltdown has brought price collapse. Malibu relies on upwardly mobile homebuyers and 2008 is seeing no such animal.

It has been a matter of time before the issues of price instability from lower market tiers would hit Malibu. Currently, it is the $1 million to $2 million market that is devoid of action, but it appears the trend may be moving upward. Six sales, so far, between $2 million and $3 million project to about 25 total this year; there were 63 in that zone in 2004.

The home in question was not meant to sell for less than $2 million. It first came on the market one year ago at $2,750,000. One other home, most recently listed in Malibu West at $1,865,000, just sold at $1,550,000.

Additionally, only 21 homes were known to have sold at any price, many of them unlisted and secured in private deals, through the first quarter. That puts Malibu at a pace of less than 100 sales for the year, 70 percent off the good old days when annual Malibu home sales numbered in the three hundreds many times since year 2000.

Among the few sales that have transpired, some have been impressive. A sampling from the very short list of 2008 sales:

An architectural home on top of the mountain along the Saddle Peak Ridge sold for $2.4 million. The one-story home was rebuilt after the 1993 fire and has spectacular views from almost every room, including lights along the coast at night. There is a pool and spa, and the property has more than two acres.

A newer home built in 2007 in Malibu Park sold for $4.9 million. It is Old-World Spanish in style and features six bedrooms suites. Located one block from Zuma Beach, the property is on one flat acre. The home is entered via a formal courtyard with a fountain and then through a foyer with a 21-foot ceiling. The listing was six months on the market when it closed escrow in January.

A La Costa Hills home was on the market only a brief time before it closed escrow two days into 2008 at a price of nearly $2.9 million. Up a long, windy driveway in a location with commanding ocean views and great privacy, the home is contemporary ranch in style with fully updated features highlighting the interior. There are hardwood floors and large sliding glass doors throughout the house, which is one story.

Two homes right next to each near Kanan Dume Road and Pacific Coast Highway both sold in the $2.4 million ballpark. Both have four bedrooms. One of the homes sold for nearly $200,000 less than last year.

Nearby, the Cavalleri neighborhood has seen one sale, for $3,650,000, of a large Tuscan home that has six bedrooms and seven baths. The home was on the market only briefly and sold close to asking price. It was built in 2000, includes a wine cellar and has three fireplaces.

Four homes have been reported in the Multiple Listing Service for sales of more than $10 million, but another quiet deal has closed on the bluffs of Point Dume for more than $20 million. Two sales on Carbon Beach have come in at $13.5 million and nearly $19 million. A beach home at La Costa Beach sold for $11.3 million (selling quickly, though down from a record list price of $17.5 million) and features six bedrooms on 81 feet of frontage.

Lastly, a notable French Regency Estate on the bluffs above Malibu Road sold for $14 million. The mansion is more than 10,000 square feet in size. There are two guesthouses on the property, as well as a lighted tennis court, a glass mosaic pool and one-and-half landscaped acres behind a gate. The master bedroom alone is 1,500 square feet with dual private baths and heated floors.

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