It’s a period that only comes around every 15 or 20 years and makes a deep, lasting imprint on the marketplace of Malibu real estate. This year, 2021, has blown the lid off normalcy as home sales and prices reach staggering new levels. Through August, already more than 200 homes have sold in the 90265 zip code and every facet of the market has been extraordinary.
For what is most likely the first time ever, no Malibu home will sell for less than $1 million during 2021. Meanwhile, 50 homes—already, in just the first two-thirds of the year—have traded for at least $10 million. That wipes out the record set all last year, at 43. Just two years ago, only 19 homes topped $10 million along our shores and hills.
The pace and energy of the market is possibly even greater than the ongoing public narrative. The volume of real estate sales is way beyond anything ever seen in Malibu. Two billion dollars this year in volume for just single family homes in the 90265 zip code is virtually certain to happen, and possibly 300 sales, which would be a benchmark not seen since 2004. The pace is absolutely frenetic.
It’s not just that 25 homes per month are closing escrow (202 total through August), but the prices are breathtaking, all while inventory remains at near record slim levels. There have been 11 sales already at the $20 million mark; the 2017 record of 12 will soon be topped. Sales of $29 million, $51 million, even $87 million just don’t seem that unusual anymore. It has added up to over $1.5 billion in total sales volume so far this year, which will soon pass last year’s record of $1.685 billion. Even more so, the vast majority of activity last year was after June; thus, Malibu has seen nearly $3 billion in sales in about 14 months. It was just in 2013 that $1 billion first occurred for an entire calendar year. Ten years ago, the volume was $563 million.
Malibu’s incomparable real estate history is highlighted by years such as this—2021 joins the hall of fame with such years as:
—1989 (30 percent price increase)
—1999 (the median went from about $800,000 to $1.1 million)
—2000 (an unbelievable record of 353 home sales)
—2002 (a 22 percent increase in prices among 315 sales)
—2004 (among 300-plus sales, a median increase from $1,675,000 to $2.2 million)
Years such as this create a whole new reality.
Fifty-nine beach and bluff sales have transpired—meaning 2021 may surpass the record of 88 beach deals, set in 2000. Forget about climate change and rising seas, beach homes are being devoured by buyers, not waves. Over $800 million in volume has already closed escrow on the beach, an average per sale of nearly $14 million, incredibly. The median of those 59 sales is at $11.05 million—by far, the highest ever.
These statistics include all sales reported in the local multiple listing service and, for about 10 percent of transactions in Malibu, sales discovered in searches of title records, so-called “quiet” or “pocket” deals. Properties only in the 90265 zip code are examined.
Every generation passes an enormous amount of wealth to the next, which then adds its own efforts to the surplus of prosperity. Every once in a while, the market forges fast ahead to align with this reality, and prices of real estate explode. Since July of last year, the latest display of this phenomenon has been visible. The surplus of cash, threats of inflation, pent-up lifestyle changes now released among a restless population and remaining low interest rates are some of the reasons for this current craze.
Furthermore, Malibu still suffers from the 2018 Woolsey Fire having eliminated 17 percent of the homes available to live in (about 700 lost). Only about 50 have been built back. That has only weighted the supply/demand forces more heavily favoring greater demand against less supply. Recent government population reports of fewer people in Malibu only mean that those still living here or moving in snag a slightly bigger portion of the real estate pie.
The very lowest price of a house sale this year has been over $1.2 million. That has been the floor. It’s possible some properties are still worth less than a million, and could sell accordingly; they just haven’t.
Last year, the median price of a house that sold on the “land side” (with no direct access to the beach) was $3.2 million. This year, it is up to more than $3.7 million. The 143 land side sales through August were at an average of $5 million (for about $711 million volume over eight months). Last year it was almost $4.4 million. Prices are clearly going up in every facet of the market and it’s just a question of how much—and how much longer.
Rick Wallace of Keller Williams Realty has been a Realtor in Malibu for 33 years and has contributed real estate columns to the community for 27 years.