The Malibu Real Estate Report

Now extinct-homes under $1 mil; condos under $500K

By Rick Wallace/Special to The Malibu Times

This may be one of the most historical months for Malibu real estate. Particularly, the date Sept. 18. It was on that day that a listed house at Las Flores Canyon and Pacific Coast Highway was reported into escrow. Asking price: $875,000.

It was the last home listed in the multiple listing service for all of Malibu available for under $1 million. Two days later, no condos were available for under $500,000; the last of two recent sub-$500K condo listings entered escrow.

Two major benchmarks were eclipsed in one week. The house on Las Flores, according to public records, was first built in 1921. It is practically Malibu’s oldest house. It has three bedrooms, with a little less than 1,500 square feet, according to records.

So, it has happened: No listings of any single-family residences in the Malibu/90265 zip code for under $1 million. Oh, by the way, none for less than $1.1 million. Oh, by the way, none for less than $1.2 million, either. At this writing, the lowest priced house, just reduced to $1,228,000, is up Latigo Canyon. It has three bedrooms on a little less than a half acre.

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It’s not all horrendous news for prospective Malibu homebuyers. Mobile homes can be had for less than $1 million. However, only 11 units are listed under $1 million. One other trailer is in escrow for more than $1 million and one is listed. So far this year, it is known that three mobile homes have traded for more than $1 million, at prices of $1.2M, $1.3M and $1.5M.

Just two years ago, the median sale price of all Malibu homes was $1,375,000. Now just six homes in the entire town can be had at such a level. It is a remarkable time. Things have changed fast. It was just two years ago in the fall that about 25 homes were still available for less than $1 million.

A sprinkling of listings for condos in the Malibu Gardens and Malibu Canyon Village have been under a half million dollars in recent months. Generally, they have not lasted long. Contrast that to the median averages in 2003 of those lowest-priced complexes: under $350,000 for both. Unless a buyer wants to settle for one bedroom, only four Malibu condos lurk under $750,000.

On the whole, the market inventory remains very low. About 135 homes are for sale, whereas normal might be well over 200. After the typical August lull, this month seems busy. The primary reason the supply of homes remains low: plentiful sales. About 50 homes are in escrow.

If there is a fly in the ointment, it may be the inventory of homes off the beach between $1 million and $2.5 million. That category has doubled over six months from about 24 homes to 48. Beach listings, meanwhile, of any price, number about 28—brutally low.

Benchmarks such as $1 million may be seen again if there is a large future correction. About 14 years ago, it was noteworthy when no listing in Malibu was below $500,000. It was the hallmark of the late-1980s blitz. The market turned south and homes eventually went below that mark and much farther. In 1997/1998 about a dozen homes sold, in Corral Canyon alone, below $400,000.

Corral and Latigo canyons, as well as Malibu West, are traditionally the low-priced entry-level places to try first. The whole group, where more than 500 homes exist, have only seven homes listed under $1.5 million. Even at $1.5 million, the choices are razor thin. It is bad news for entry-level buyers. Besides scarce selection, $1 million is becoming a thing of the past.

Rick Wallace of the Coldwell Banker Company has been a Realtor in Malibu for 17 years. He can be reached at www.RICKMALIBUrealestate.com

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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