LA homebuying hits record high in Q1

1.7K properties sold as buyers chose DTLA condos and “pandemic amenities” in Malibu

L.A. home sales surged to a record high in the first quarter, as buyers chose “pandemic amenities” in Malibu, as well as Downtown condos. (iStock)
L.A. home sales surged to a record high in the first quarter, as buyers chose “pandemic amenities” in Malibu, as well as Downtown condos. (iStock)

First-quarter home sales hit a record high in Los Angeles, continuing a months-long run of strong demand.

Buyers snapped up 1,693 homes across Westside and Downtown L.A. in the first three months of the year, according to Douglas Elliman. The total was nearly 10 percent above the previous quarter, and 40 percent higher year-over-year. The pandemic slammed the brakes on sales in late March 2020 — ending a solid start to the year — and numbers didn’t begin to pick up till summer. And pick up they did.

Sales activity from January through March was the highest for a first quarter in 17 years, said appraiser Jonathan Miller, who authors the Elliman report.

The median sale price in L.A. stood at $1.6 million in the first quarter, a little below the previous quarter, but slightly higher than Q1 2020, according to the report.

Single-family home sale prices in Beverly Hills were the highest in the city. The median sales price rose to $7.4 million in the first quarter, up 4 percent from the previous quarter and 34 percent from Q1 2020. In the Beverly Park section, the Villa Firenze estate sold for $51 million in February, in an auction. But the estate went for far below its original $165 million listing.

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Beverly Hills was even pricier than the Malibu/Malibu Beach area — median sale price for a house was $4.2 million — which has seen a surge in demand since the summer. In March, Good RX co-founder Trevor Bezdek and his wife Jana paid $39.4 million for a 5,000-square-foot beach house in the exclusive community.

While the Malibu/Malibu Beach median sales price for a single-family home was actually $1 million below Q4 numbers, it was about $1.4 million over the first quarter of 2020. Both the Malibu and Malibu Beach markets saw inventory for both single-family homes and condos drop in the first quarter.

L.A. buyers remained drawn to homes with what Miller called “pandemic amenities.” Those properties offered more space and were closer to the beach — which has continued to fuel sales and prices in Malibu, he said.

But even without those elements, the DTLA condo market had a strong showing. With the vaccine rollout ramping up, there were 184 sales in the first quarter, more than double the previous quarter. It was also well above the 117 condos sold in the first quarter of 2020, the report noted.

Prices for Downtown condos also rose, with the median sales price hitting $679,000, better than the previous quarter — by 10 percent — and about 8 percent higher year-over-year. Average prices per square foot for Downtown L.A. condos stood at $680. That was slightly above Q4’s $637 a foot, but below the first quarter 2020, when it stood at $690.

The median sales price for condos also rose in Pacific Palisades rose to $1.35 million, besting the previous quarter by 20 percent and year-over-year by 23 percent. And the second quarter appears to have gotten off to a strong start as well. Vice Media’s Shane Smith sold his Pacific Palisades estate this month for $48.7 million, after a little over two months on the market.