Malibu Real Estate Prices

Malibu beachfront property, viewed from the water's edge. Copyright
Malibu beachfront property, viewed from the water's edge. These multi-million dollar homes are packed closely together along PCH or parallel beach roads wherever private development has been permitted. The combination of the magnificent ocean views, the beach lifestyle, and the magic name Malibu, keeps prices moving always higher.

Early Malibu Real Estate Transactions

In general, you can say Malibu real estate only goes in one direction: up. That is not strictly true since there have been periods of stagnation or mild decline and overextended developers go bankrupt in Malibu just like anywhere else. But the record of appreciation overall is still remarkable.

In the Spanish period at the beginning of Malibu, during 1805, Jose Bartolome Tapia received the land for free, as a grant from the Spanish King, in gratitude for his military service. In 1857, Tapia's heir sold his interest in the 13,300 acre Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit to Don Mateo Keller for about ten cents per acre, the first recorded cash sale. Thirty-five years later, the modern development of Malibu began in 1892 when Frederick Rindge bought Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit from Keller for a then fabulous price of $10 per acre, already a 100-fold increase in value.

Malibu Real Estate in the 20th Century

The Rindge family operated Rancho Malibu as a single holding until financial pressures caused May Rindge, Fredrick Rindge's widow, to start to lease, then sell, land in the 1920s. The La Costa subdivision and the Malibu Colony were the first opportunities for "outsiders" to have Malibu real estate, although the Decker family and other homesteaders did hold property in what is now Malibu, but outside of the Rindge ranch.

Malibu Colony land was originally leased, for $1 per beachfront foot per month. The typical 30 foot wide lot was $30 per month on a ten year lease. May Rindge formed the Marblehead Land Co. to further subdivide Malibu and sold off large plots to individuals and developers in the late 1930s and 1940s. By the 1950s, a building boom was on and Malibu, like much of the United States, developed rapidly. The sections on Development & Diversification in the History pages of have more details on these periods.

Malibu Real Estate Prices in Recent Times

In 1948 Alex Newton, Sr. bought an empty acre and a half on Point Dume for $3100. The nearest neighbor was a half-mile away. Even in December 1958, an ad in the Malibu Times advertised a two-bedroom home near the Malibu Colony for $29,500. And in 1972, the Malibu Canyon Village condos opened with units available for $30,000. Such bargain-basement prices were typical of Malibu then since it was considered too far from Los Angeles and not very classy. How times have changed!

While a few exceptional homes in Malibu always carried staggering price tags, it was not until the late 1980s when a robust California real estate market first pushed Malibu prices above $1 million in many areas, even off-the-beach. In 1988, the first off-the-beach sale above $3 million occurred. By 1997, home sales above $10 million began to be seen, with the first on Encinal Bluffs. By June 2000, ten properties in Malibu were at or above the $10 million level. Also in 2000, the median house value in Malibu exceeded $1 million for the first time.

As an index of the growth, it took 30 years (1972-2002) for the Malibu Canyon Village condos to go from their original value of about $30,000 to over $300,000, a ten-fold increase. Many units sold for double that ($600,000) by the end of 2005. In general, single family residence values increased more than 20 percent during 2003, and roughly doubled during the period 1998 to 2003. Driven by low interest rates and a low inventory of homes for sale, prices continued to increase during 2004-2005.

In the fall of 2005, sales on Broad Beach included three properties at $13 million, $17 million and $22 million. On Malibu Road, three properties sold for $6 million, $7 million and $13 million. Three sales on Malibu Cove Colony were in the $7 million range. On La Costa Beach, the highest sale in 2004 was $5 million, but a number of sales above $6 million took place in 2005, along with sales above $3 million in La Costa landside. Sales indicate that the median value on Point Dume has soared above $3.5 million. Further out, the increases were similar, but on a smaller base. For example, Corral Canyon, Latigo Canyon and Malibu West now regularly see sales at $1.5 million or more.

Properties at the Peak of Malibu Values

A few exceptional properties in Malibu are among the highest priced homes in the world. These examples will round out this section.

A home in Encinal Bluffs, at 33064 Pacific Coast Highway, was built by movie producer Verna Harrah, widow of the casino developer William F. Harrah. The seven-acre property has an 18,000-square-foot, Mediterranean-style villa with 300 feet of private beach. Joanna Poitier, the wife of actor Sidney Poitier, was responsible for the interior design of the seven-bedroom house. In 1999, Harrah sold the house for $25 million to Mark Reynolds Hughes, the founder and CEO of Herbalife International, Inc. The purchase price was a record for Malibu at the time. After Hughes died unexpectedly in May 2000, the house went on sale again, this time for $31 million, exquisite fixtures and furnishings included.

In June 2005 the large estate built in 1991 on Sweetwater Mesa overlooking Surfrider Beach and the Malibu Lagoon was listed for sale at $35 million. The mansion sits on 16 acres of central Malibu land and features a 5,000 square-foot master bedroom among its six bedrooms and eight bathrooms. The compound has a gate house (an average-sized home itself) overlooking the tennis court, and the grounds full of gardens and fountains.

In September 2005, a property in Paradise Cove went on sale for $65 million, probably the highest priced listing in Malibu up to that time. The 15,000 square-foot house sits on a seven-acre private bluff in the gated Paradise Cove community, with panoramic ocean views, a riding ring, swimming pool, tennis court, guard house, and private road to the beach. It has seven bedrooms and 11 baths.

This section was compiled from many sources, but the primary source was Rick Wallace of the Malibu Coldwell-Banker office and his periodic column, The Malibu Real Estate Report in the Malibu Times.

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