LA condo sales had been improving in Q1: report

A Compass analysis showed DTLA and key Westside neighborhoods had an uptick in transactions before the virus lockdown in late March

From left: The Century tower and a Sierra Tower
From left: The Century tower and a Sierra Tower

Judging by first-quarter numbers alone, the condo sales market was improving in Downtown Los Angeles and on the Westside.

But as Compass advised, its newly-released L.A. condo market report detailing January through March transactions should only “be viewed as an indicator of activity and sentiment prior to the current crisis.”

The landscape has drastically changed in a little over a month, as California remains under a stay-at-home order and brokers have turned to the complicated task of virtual showings to sell units.

In the first quarter, Compass analyzed condo sales above $500,000 in DTLA and its “core market” stretching from the western half of the Hollywood Hills to Century City and down to Beverly Center.

The number of condo sales jumped in DTLA from the previous quarter, 88 compared to 63, although the average sale price slipped to just under $800,000, from $917,000 at the end of 2019. Average price per square foot also dropped, to just under $700, from about $750.

In its core market, the number of sales ticked up to 226 in Q1, from 204 in the fourth quarter. Average sales in those areas that include Beverly Hills and Westwood, also rose slightly, to about $1.25 million from just over $1.1 million. Average price per square foot rose, to $756, from $736 at the end of 2019.

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On the Westside, activity was enough that the first quarter of 2020 was still significantly better than the Q1 2019 — a particularly weak three months, Compass noted.

The improving residential sales market was also true across much of L.A’s priciest communities in the first quarter, according to a separate report from Douglas Elliman.

In the Compass report, the Century City-Westwood market accounted for half of all sales in the core market, including the priciest. The average sale price of $1.41 million was second only to the $1.5 million average price in Beverly Hills, which saw just 11 transactions and a lower price per square foot.

The most expensive condo transaction in Q1 was a $9.7 million sale of a three-bedroom condo at Related Companies’ The Century building in Century City. There are still eight units at the Century on the market, including “Friends” actor Matthew Perry’s penthouse that he listed last August for $35 million.

In DTLA, all but 16 of its sales were under $1 million and just one was over $3 million. The Downtown condo market has been hampered by oversupply, industry pros have said. Price per square foot has for the most part fallen steadily since the end of 2017.

Other notable transactions for the quarter included a $2.1 million sale of a one-bedroom unit at the celebrity-favored Sierra Towers building in West Hollywood, and a pair of $7.5 million sales at Beverly West, where musician The Weeknd recently bought a unit.

Compass noted that with plans to reopen the U.S. economy differing by state, “we expect the market to continue to fluctuate and for market data to reflect these changes in the next few months.”