LA housing market’s hot Q4 caps rollercoaster year

Malibu sales surged and newly-built condo prices jumped though deals in DTLA diminished

Malibu led the way in nearly every metric, according to Douglas Elliman's fourth quarter report. (iStock)
Malibu led the way in nearly every metric, according to Douglas Elliman's fourth quarter report. (iStock)

The Los Angeles housing market stayed hot for the final three months of 2020, capping off a wild, treacherous and also prosperous year for buyers, sellers and brokers.

The median home sales price on the Westside and in Downtown L.A. reached $1.65 million, a near 10 percent year-over year rise, according to Douglas Elliman’s latest report. The figure also marked the second-highest median price ever, according to the report.

That seemed to show the flood of sales from the pent-up demand of pandemic lockdowns in spring had staying power.

Overall, L.A. properties that sold in Q4 were bigger and left the market faster compared to the same time in 2019. The average square footage of homes that sold neared an all-time record, though price-per-foot numbers dropped.

“For the fourth consecutive quarter, median sales price rose to a top-three record, despite the pandemic, as the market shifts to larger-sized sales,” said appraiser Jonathan Miller, who authors the Elliman report.

Sellers, brimming with optimism, pushed more homes onto the market in the fourth quarter, with inventory up 35 percent year-over-year. Homes were sold in an average of 53 days, 10 less than the same time in 2019. Listing discounts were also more modest year-over-year, the report showed.

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The median price among the top 10 percent of homes that sold rose 11.2 percent.

In the down-arrow department, the Downtown L.A. market saw the most significant drop. Pricing and sales were down while inventory and number of days on the market were up, the report found. The average price per square foot on all Downtown condos fell to $637 from $720.

The median sales price among L.A. condos fell 3.6 percent year-over-year to $930,000, and their price per square foot fell 4.6 percent.

But the number of condo sales has surged. More condos sold year-over-year, and units spent fewer days on the market in the fourth quarter. Despite that, inventory was up 72 percent year-over-year, with DTLA luxury high-rises contributing to the stock.

The number of newly-built condos in L.A. units on the market doubled — from 84 to 168 — but listing discounts were less severe than a year ago. While the median sales price on those properties rose 56.3 percent to $3.5 million, average price per square foot fell 3.6 percent to $1,194.

Malibu was for the hottest market by nearly every metric. The median sales price in the fourth quarter was $5.1 million, up nearly 71 percent year-over year and nearly 30 percent from the third quarter.

Average price per square foot in the seaside enclave rose 22 percent year-over-year. Also, 31 percent more homes traded and inventory fell nearly 16 percent.