A Silver Lining
Clouds are lifting for Southern California real estate.By Jennifer Martin
After two hazy years, the sun may be starting to shine on the Southern California housing market. Home prices for low- to mid-priced homes have been climbing since January 2009, which points to a long-term recovery for the entire area, analysts say. There was even an unexpected surge: The number of newly built homes sold in the Los Angeles-San Diego region spiked in November 2009 at 2,039, a 25-percent jump over the November 2008 level.
While the luxury market is moving forward more slowly, Realtors say inquiries are rising.
“I think there’s an uptick and an energy among potential buyers now,” says Realtor Chris Cortazzo in the Malibu office for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “There’s more confidence in the market.”
Buyers are noticing that it’s an ideal time to invest, Cortazzo adds. Luxury home prices in Malibu generally have not risen yet; they remain about 30 percent lower than they were two years ago. “There are some amazing buys out there right now,” Cortazzo says.
Cortazzo lists one home with ocean overlooks for only $7.8 million. The property includes walls of glass doors opening to large oceanside patios and a private third-level master suite with its own expansive patio and luxurious bath suite.
In the Santa Barbara and Montecito area, home sales have risen in the past six months, which does not surprise Realtor Randy Solakian of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s Montecito office.
Solakian lists a 14-acre estate, The Rose House, with manicured landscaping, cypress trees and 1,000 feet of ocean frontage, among many other amenities. Priced at $29 million, it encompasses six bedrooms and eight bathrooms.
“The most important thing I could tell you is that buying opportunities right now are unprecedented,” he says. “It’s a rare time in the area’s history when sellers who really want to sell are coming around to meet the buyers’ criteria.”
Further south in La Jolla, Realtors are looking for sales in the lower end of the luxury market ($5 million to $6 million) to start percolating soon. “We’ve had a lot of showings,” says Realtor Maxine Gellens of Prudential California Realty. “It’s always been a gorgeous area, with a climate comparable to the beaches of Nice or southern Spain. And since technology has allowed so many more people to work from home, we have really surged as a primary home market.”
La Jolla is so popular that it’s difficult to find a two- to three-bedroom home for less than $850,000. One of Gellens’ pocket listings, not advertised on the market, is the former estate of author Anne Rice. The residence is a blend of modern elegance and Old World charm, encompassing details such as a salon with 24-foot coffered, hand-detailed ceilings, a massive stone fireplace, herringbone parquet floors and 15-foot arched French doors leading to an ocean-view terrace. It lists at $10.5 million.