Surprise, surprise: LA condo sales are way up

Deals and listings skyrocket despite Covid-induced concerns about vertical living

Metropolis Los Angeles, and The Century Plaza
Metropolis Los Angeles, and The Century Plaza


The coronavirus pandemic was supposed to set back “vertical living” in Los Angeles, but it seems to have done just the opposite. 

Condo deals have skyrocketed. 

There were 1,419 condo sales in September in Downtown L.A. and a swath of the westside from Century City to Santa Monica, signaling a 54 percent leap year-over-year. That’s according to a new monthly report from Douglas Elliman and real estate appraiser Miller Samuel. 

The number of sales jumped along with overall condo inventory. There were 1,381 new listings in September, a 105-percent year-over-year jump. As for luxury condos — those listed at more than $1 million — that rise was massive. There were 286 luxury condo deals last month compared to just 22 year-over-year, representing a 1,200-percent increase.

“So much of the narrative in the beginning of the lockdown was in the demand for single-family homes,” said study author Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel. “But we are seeing more contract activity in the condo market.”

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Miller noted that the last few months show a consistent increase  in condo sales compared to the same period in 2019. 

Real estate brokers who predicted Covid-19 would lead to the downfall of L.A. condos — reasoning  homeowners would push harder for space and sprawl — struggled to make sense of the latest numbers.

Inventory may be higher because L.A. condo dwellers are indeed leaving the city for less dense areas like the San Fernando Valley, said Michael Nourmand of Nourmand & Associates.

Westside Estate Agency’s Colin Keenan, meanwhile, said “condo owners are more single and mobile, while single-family homeowners may have kids in school.” Also, the condo market is recovering after cratering in the spring when in-person sales activity was ordered shut down.

September was also a good month for single-family homes. There were 4,388 single-family home sales last month in the L.A. County neighborhoods examined, marking a 12 percent year-over-year gain. But the number of single-family listings to hit the market in September fell 52 percent year-over-year to 2,747, according to the report.

Miller was not totally sure what to make of the jump in condo and home sales, though he did acknowledge the rock-bottom interest rates, which has proven attractive to homebuyers.  

“The first wave saw an explosion of single-family growth,” Miller said. “The condos are the second wave.” 

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