Could the Malibu mudslide scare off buyers?

A landslide in Malibu sideswiped a home, presenting challenges and opportunities

Los Angeles /
Jan.January 18, 2018 02:00 PM

A dramatic landslide in Malibu put a three-story home in the 2800 block of Hume Road at risk on Wednesday, authorities said. While no one was injured and the home escaped extensive damage, even minor incidents like those present major economic challenges that could have ripple effects on a surrounding community, real estate experts say.

As part of the fallout, neighbors with homes on the market could pull them off temporarily, seeking to avoid any potential drop in asking price. Other neighborhoods less prone to natural disasters could see a spike in activity, as homes are snapped up and rented out to displaced residents.

Hume Road often has homes selling for roughly $2 to $4 million, according to listings on Zillow. That compares to nearby homes on Broad Beach, which sell for around $9 million. While the Hume Road house avoided damage, the landslide could cause some short-term problems for homeowners in the immediate area, Malibu broker Madison Hildebrand said.

“Some homeowners will probably want to take their listings off market until the hype dies down,” Hildebrand, founder of the Malibu Life team at Pacific Union, said. “But humans are amazingly resilient and extremely forgetful. We could have the biggest wildfires, one good rain and maybe a mudslide, and three months after it will be paradise again and people will have forgotten.”

Hildebrand said sales activity will often slow in the areas immediately affected, as seen by the sudden drop in active listings in Bel Air following the devastating recent fires in the area.  But as people seek to leave those affected areas, business will often shift to other neighborhoods.

Hildebrand said he’s had three prominent families come into his office from Montecito in the last week, seeking to pay $100,000 a month on rentals on Carbon Beach for a few months while the situation subsides.

Up along the coast, mudslides in Montecito in Santa Barbara have been ravaging the seaside town. Nineteen people have died and at least three others remain missing, the authorities said on Sunday. The disaster also destroyed or damaged 296 buildings, including 134 homes. That’s in addition to the damage caused from the Thomas Fire, the trigger point for the mudslides. That fire killed two people, and destroyed roughly 1,000 structures and 281,893 acres.

“People need to be relocated so that produces a certain surge of leases,” said another broker, Rodrigo Iglesias of Hilton & Hyland’s. He works mostly with high-end residential homes in Malibu, and has already noticed an uptick in interest for the western parts of the oceanside city, which are closest to Montecito. “I expect leases and properties in Malibu to have a good amount of activity over the next month or two.”

Others are purchasing homes in the areas of Ventura, which are less disaster-prone, and turning them into three-year rentals for displaced families, according to Hildebrand. The destruction also will also inevitably lead to new development, contractors, inspectors, and others, though that is further down the road.

“All of these houses in the Montecito area were developed at different times,” Iglesias said. “There’s a moment of mourning and trauma, but then eventually everything gets rebuilt to new city codes for water to flow. When you have the infrastructure to the standards, big disasters don’t really affect infrastructure.”


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