A Breath of the Rarified Air

With an upbeat market comes word of super high-end sales such as the recent deal in Beverly Hills that topped $100 Mil.

The pinnacle of the residential real estate pyramid seems to always elevate higher into the sky. Malibu has not yet had a $100 million sale, though the high transaction last year in all the Southern California area was credited to our shores. It was a $74.5 million deal on Encinal Bluffs, which included seven acres of beach frontage. The second highest sale ever in Malibu was also last year, a Paradise Cove bluff property of six acres, at $42,500,000.

Over the years, 240 different homes in Malibu have had a price tag of $10 million or more.  Of course, not all of them sold.  Approximately 166 times, however, that price as been paid, though a handful of homes have sold more than once at eight figures. The rest where just listed at that lofty level, and a few of those were clearly imaginative asking prices to begin with.

Last year, 16 estates sold for $10 million-plus in the Malibu real estate zone, including all the areas that have a 90265 ZIP code, on the beach and off.  How does that compare with past years? And, how are we doing so far this year?

The $10 million-plus sale plateau was first achieved in Malibu was in 1997, a separate multi-acre Encinal Bluffs estate than already mentioned.  Every year since has seen such a sale.   $20 million was topped in 1999 and $30 million was first achieved in 2001, with both of those sales being the very same property that more recently scored the $74 million.  Other than that individual, extraordinary estate, the $20 million and $30 million levels were not otherwise seen until 2000 and 2006, respectively.

The best years for $10 million were, unsurprisingly, when the market hit its peak in 2007 and 2008, as both years tallied 20 such sales.

The really rarified air for Malibu is now $20 million.  28 properties have sold for that amount thus far in history, with just the two whoppers last year already accounted for in the 2013 results, and none so far in 2014.

Curiously, the best years for $20 million were in 2007 and in 2010, each with five such sales.  The year 2010 was strange in that the market as a whole was virtually dead, but it was one of those periods when the elite seemed immune to the economy, as two homes on Carbon Beach hit $25 million or more, and three Malibu Colony homes brought between $21 – $30 million.  When the 2007 phenomenon hit, there were three houses on Broad Beach, one on Carbon Beach as well as a celebrity compound on Point Dume bluffs which soared to $35 million that year.

At this writing, there are 44 properties in Malibu listed for more than $10 million.  Three others are reported in escrow.  Six properties have sold in the past six months.  Thus, at about one per month during a pretty strong market, the task of getting one of those monsters sold is no walk in the park, even if most of them have park like grounds.

The elite deals are famous for frequently occurring as “pocket listings”, or otherwise not listed in the multiple listing service and not publicly exposed. The Malibu MLS identifies 61 sales since January, 2007 as recording for $10 million or more.  But at least 40 more are known to have quietly transpired.  The information on such sales starts with word of mouth, but ultimately public information reveals evidence of such grandeur.  Often Hollywood celebrity names are attached to such deals, but anything over $20 million becomes almost celebrity by default. 

When you consider that more than $2.5 billion dollars of property has been exchanged in Malibu in this upper niche market alone ($10 million or more), the economic ripples are felt far and wide throughout Malibu.  Assuming five percent commission for all the transactions, that would’ve produced about $130 million in commissions, boosting the local realty industry and its affiliates.

One never knows when a surge of big sales may occur; they seem to pop almost randomly. There are two current listings in Malibu above the $50 million tier.  One is a huge, acre and a half compound on Broad Beach that has a tennis court and house with 10 bathrooms. The other is a palace on the bluffs near Latigo built recently with 13 bedrooms on six incredible acres.  The pool house alone is to die for.  Will either of them make real estate news in Southern California this year?

Only three deals in 2014 have qualified so far at the mere $10 million bracket, but the overall pace of the market suggests that the 16 sales of these eight figure exchanges last year may yet be topped, and we’ll see about the record of 20. It’s a record certain to be broken.

Rick Wallace has been a Realtor in Malibu for 26 years.