Tivoli Cove Condos Deserve Prize For Greatest Appreciation

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During an exhaustive year in 2002, Tivoli Cove condos sold at a remarkable pace. Twenty-seven units sold in the Mediterranean-style complex, with closing prices ranging from $300,000 to $490,000. The average price was $395,000.

Search the available listings in Tivoli today and the lowest priced offered is $719,000. One unit is in escrow with an asking price of $1.3 million! What is going on?

One of the most amazing blitzes of Malibu property value appreciation ever is the dizzying leap in prices in the gated-beach paradise called Tivoli Cove.

There are 104 Tivoli Cove condos, with almost half of them having been sold in the last two years. So far in 2003, the average sale price has been $605,000. Values in the complex, across the street from Latigo Canyon, are up about 53 percent in one year! There is no other location in Malibu where 2003 property value escalation has been so incredible.

Plenty of buyers come to Malibu hoping to find a little place near the sand. The choices, other than multi-million dollar homes, are few. Tivoli Cove is the prime solution. Terraced over four levels with lots of palm trees, two tennis courts and, best of all, a private sandy beach, the standard one-bedroom unit is about 700 square feet. There is no more tropical feeling of Hawaii or the Caribbean in all of Malibu. Soft breezes off the ocean from the southeast are practically constant.

One-bedroom with 700 square feet for about $1 million? You can find such a listing at this writing. The unit mentioned in escrow is just under 1,000 square feet according to public records, with two bedrooms. Listing agent Lydia Simon describes it as including wood floors, top-of- the-line appliances, a steam shower, a plasma TV, a two-car garage and storage room. Originally listed last spring at nearly $1.5 million, it may soon be the first-ever deal over $1 million.

Originally called the Latigo Bay Villas, the complex was built in 1973 as apartments. Pepperdine University acquired the property in 1976 for off-campus housing, but the arrangement didn’t last long. Sold to investors, the property was eventually converted to condos in 1989 and underwent major remodeling. The clean, nicely landscaped and well-maintained facility, with one of the most pleasant beach settings along the Southern California coast, is a testament to that effort. Neighboring beach homes below drive past the complex at the point where the private beach and barbecue area serves the condo owners. A pool, a hot tub and a private clubhouse are located at the top of the property inside a long stretch of heavy hedges that line PCH. Tide pools and a surf break are nearby.

Many units include separate private garages and/or private storage spaces. The facility is gated and often security-guarded. The addresses for each unit, depending on which level A through D, is on the street called Seagull Way, off private-Latigo Shore Drive, which originated in the 1940s. Association dues run about $500 per month.

Just five years ago, no sale among the seven reported exceeded $300,000. By 1999, the 300 barrier was broken, but it wasn’t until last year that regular activity occurred above $400,000. Listing prices at this writing are $719,000, $944,000, $995,000 and $1.125 million. Earlier in 2003, one buyer spent about $1.6 million to get two vertical units.

Malibu has such a limited supply of available condos anyway, that every complex in town is enjoying great appreciation. But not like Tivoli Cove. The intensely limited selection for beach-close housing, some used as second residences, is the main reason why a year like this is possible.

How about the trend in asking prices? The average asking price in Tivoli at this time of year in 1998 was $262,000. In 2000, it was $397,000. And by last year, it was up to $453,000. Your four choices this month average $946,000. While the comps are up over 50 percent, the asking prices have more than doubled.

The Malibu Bay Club has a similarly gated, beachfront terraced complex, the largest in Malibu. But its location inside Ventura County is less appealing. The Tivoli Cove condos are about 20 minutes from the Santa Monica Pier. The population center-point of Malibu is actually west of the entrance. Even if the city of Malibu was amenable to creating new beachfront condos, there is virtually no place to put them. Thus, the scarcity driving the current market will remain.

All the buildings have upper and lower units. The upper floors command more money for better views. The walk to the sand can be as little as one minute. Three separate units have attempted to break the $1 million barrier this year. Compare that to the years 2000 and 2001, when the sale averages were only $288,000 and $368,000, respectively. If this year’s average holds, the 400s and 500s will be skipped entirely as far as average yearly price is concerned. Including the 27 sales that brought the average to $395,000 last year, this will mark the second consecutive year of total sales volume beyond $10 million.

Rick Wallace of the Coldwell Banker company has been a Realtor in Malibu for 16 years. He can be reached at his website, www.RICKMALIBUrealestate.com