The Malibu Real Estate Report: 1998 Dollar Volume Far Exceeds ’97 Production/

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It took only 8-1/2 months of heavy real estate activity this year to surpass the 1997 totals for overall sales volume of Malibu single family residences.

Perhaps all of us in the real estate industry can take the rest of the year off? By the end of September, the total volume of homes sales had reached about $330 million locally. That exceeded the total for all of 1997: $306 million.

Homes sales on both the beach and the landside have bested last year’s results. Including the final three months, 1998 will reign as the heaviest sales and dollar volume year in Malibu history!

(Research of real estate articles earlier in the decade indicate that even the peak years of 1989 and 1990 produced fewer sales and dollar volume than present. Average sale prices, however, were slightly higher than they are currently.)

Last year, approximately 49 homes sold at the beach for about $127,000,000. The average sale price was $2.6 million.

In 1998, through nine months, 48 home sales could be detected, at a total volume of $143 million. Average sale price for a beach property has risen to almost $3 million.

The landside reflects similar trends. 1997 landside sales numbered about 221, adding up to $179 million in dollar volume. Through September of this year: 208 sales for $185 million. The average sale of a Malibu home off the beach has increased from about $810,000 to $893,000.

How much have prices increased this year, using the mean averages? On the beach, up 15 percent. On the landside, up 10 percent. Overall, the average home sale for both categories has increased from $1,134,000 to $1,286,000, a leap of about 13.4 percent.

Median averages, which represent more typical activity, are excluded from these numbers, which are weighted heavily by the propensity of high-priced beach and estate sales in 1998. Actually, about half the home sales in Malibu are below the $800,000 benchmark. Plentiful estate sales drive the averages up.

Virtually every home on the market during 1997-1998 was tracked for this study. Sales records were retrieved primarily from the Multiple Listing Service over the course of the past two years but also from information provided from title searches of public records and other sources. Listings that are single family residences in the 90265 zip code were compared, within and outside of Malibu city limits.

Increases in values of 10-15 percent in both 1997 and 1998 has done much to recover the 35 percent to 40 percent losses suffered in the dreadful depression of 1991-1996, when prices slumped each year.

Beating the 1997 tallies is worthy of celebration. When the market suddenly turned in spring 1997, the year saw 270 home sales at more than $300 million in volume (excluding sales of condos, mobile homes and vacant lots, as well as lease activity). Those numbers may well have set local records.

By the official end of this summer, we had shattered those totals. Activity has been steady all year, with no weak months. While hints of market cooling abound, and some new sellers are listing at exaggerated prices, the year will still see more than 300 homes sold and a staggering $400 million in volume.

The highway has had little effect on local sales (other than perhaps tempting some locals to sell and bail out of town and often delaying showings 20-30 minutes). While highway nuisances are already factored into local values to some degree, the fact that the highway has stayed open all but a couple weeks diminishes the potential damage wrought upon Malibu sales. The delays and aggravation, all known to be temporary, have not been significant factors in buying decisions.

Rick Wallace has been a Realtor at Fred Sands Malibu office for 11 years and a Malibu resident for 23 years.