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L.A. County Home Sales Fall 21% in Turbulent 1st Half of 2020, Prices Grow 4%

Key Takeaways:

  • Residential sales in L.A. County fell 21% in H1 2020; prices grew 4% Y-o-Y
  • Residential sales in L.A. County dropped significantly, bottoming out in May with 51% less activity Y-o-Y
  • Prices decreased in only 8 of the cities in our study, remaining 44 saw upwards price trends
  • Pico Rivera: only city in L.A. County with increase in residential transactions at 10% Y-o-Y
  • Greatest decreases in transactions were in Agoura Hills and Calabasas at 44% and 43% fewer sales Y-o-Y, respectively
  • Greatest price increase at 15% Y-o-Y was in Beverly Hills, which was also the most expensive city in L.A. County with a $3.3 million median home sale price
  • Most expensive sale in first half of 2020 was Jeff Bezos’ Beverly Hills purchase for $165 million

Los Angeles County has one of the most diverse real estate markets in the world. Prices here range from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than a hundred million; locations vary from the Pacific Coast to the high desert; and architectural styles come in the form of anything from Spanish Colonial to mid-century modern. However, despite the city’s usually indomitable spirit, the first half of 2020 was particularly tumultuous for the housing market as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country and L.A. County became one of the nation’s epicenters.

In March, California became the first state in the nation to issue a lockdown and, as a result, home showings moved online. Then, despite January’s 10% increase in sales activity year-over-year (Y-o-Y) and just 2% decreases in both February and March, things took a turn for the worse after the lockdown. Specifically, transactions plummeted 35% in April before reaching their lowest point in May, which had 51% fewer sales than May 2019. Sales then picked up slightly in June with only 25% fewer transactions Y-o-Y.

So, given this unprecedented situation and the resulting statistics, we conducted a study of LA’s unique residential real estate market during the first half of 2020. What we found is that, while residential sales in L.A. County fell 21% in the first half of the year as compared to the same time period in 2019, median home sale prices actually rose 4% — from $597,000 in 2019 to $620,000 in 2020. At the same time, sales activity fell from nearly 35,000 homes sold in the first half of 2019 to approximately 27,000 thus far in the current year.

Notably, in the first half of 2020, 34 cities in L.A. County closed fewer than 80 deals, which is the metric we used as the minimum threshold for including a city in our study. In comparison, only 20 cities recorded fewer than that number in 2019. In total, we analyzed residential sales for 52 cities in Los Angeles County. And, with the exception of Pico Rivera, every one of them registered a decrease in transactions of -6% to -44% Y-o-Y. Pico Rivera was the only city where residential sales increased. Finally, in terms of prices, 85% of the cities saw annual increases between 1% and 15%, while the rest saw decreases between a mere -0.3% and -9%.

Prices Grow 15% in Beverly Hills, 10% in Accessible Antelope Valley & 9% in West Hollywood

As a whole, the L.A. County area saw a 4% annual rise in median home prices. However, some cities — specifically, 9 of the 52 in our study — saw prices increase more than 10%. For instance, the ever-exclusive Beverly Hills had the largest price increase at 15% Y-o-Y with a luxury-level median home price of more than $3 million. And, while only 11% of sales were greater than $11 million in 2019, more than 21% of sales were higher than that in 2020. In particular, with sales as high as $72.5 million last year, the Trousdale neighborhood in Beverly Hills continued the ultra-exclusive pricing trend into 2020. In fact, all sales thus far in 2020 have surpassed $5 million, including a lavish $38.3 million home.

Budget-friendlier El Monte, San Dimas and Glendora followed closely with increases of 13%, 12% and 12%. More precisely, all three cities saw prices rise by more than $58,000. As such, their medians now sit at $516,000, $650,000 and $642,455, respectively. Southeast of LA, Pico Rivera — along with Duarte to the northeast — saw prices grow by 11% Y-o-Y. Further north, in the typically more affordable Antelope Valley, both Palmdale and Lancaster saw prices grow 10% Y-o-Y, with median home prices around $300,000. Similarly, to the east of LA, Walnut also saw prices grow by 10%. In this area, homes are now valued at a median sale price of $802,000.

Registering a 9% increase in its usually steep West-side price tags was West Hollywood. Here, the median slowly crawled to nearly $900,000, rising from $800,000 to $875,000. Meanwhile, 37% of all sales in 2020 recorded a median sale price above the $1 million mark. In comparison, the first half of 2019 recorded three condominiums sold for $11 million in landmark building Sierra Towers. Even so, sales above $1 million represented only 34% of the total in 2019. 

Prices Decrease in Only 8 L.A. County Cities, Including Ultra-Exclusive Malibu & in Santa Monica

In the first half of 2020, prices decreased in only eight of the 52 cities included in our study. Specifically, Malibu fared the worst with prices decreasing 9% to go from a $2.75 million median to $2.5 million. Surprisingly, Malibu also recorded more transactions above the $5 million threshold in the first half of 2020 versus last year, with 28 this year compared to 24 in 2019.

However, the decrease in median price is due to the larger number of transactions in the $2 million to $5 million range in 2019 as compared to 2020 — 35% versus 30%, respectively. In this respect, Culver City was the second runner-up with prices decreasing 6%. Here, the $951,000 median fell to $896,000, aided by the fact that sales of single-family homes decreased by 3% Y-o-Y, whereas condominiums represented the majority of sales in 2020 with 53% of transactions. 

Agoura Hills came in third with a 5% price decrease, which was spurred by an increase in the number of sales below $500,000. More precisely, while only 23% of sales in this historically pricey suburban city were less than $500,000 in 2019, that percentage increased to 28% in 2020.

Similarly, neighboring Glendale and Burbank both saw prices decrease by 4%. Glendale also had an overall decrease in the number of transactions — from 568 in 2019 to 387 in 2019. Its 4% price decrease in 2020 was due to the fact that sales in the $1 million and above range decreased from 29% to 31% Y-o-Y. Meanwhile, in neighboring Burbank in the East San Fernando Valley, sales of condominiums represented 79% of transactions in 2020, as opposed to 73% in 2019. This change spurred a 4% decrease in the city’s median sale price, taking it from $835,000 to $800,000.

Along the same lines, the median home sale price in Santa Monica decreased by 2% to land at $1.37 million. Primarily affecting the median were sales below $1 million, which represented 34% of the total in 2020, as opposed to 27% in 2019. Sales of condominiums held steady at 63% of all transactions both years. Further south, Gardena saw a 1% price decrease in its median home price, which dipped slightly from $545,000 to $541,000. Alhambra also experienced a slight 0.3% price decrease.

Residential Sales in Calabasas & Agoura Hills Plummet More Than 40%, Beverly Hills Sales Fall 31%

Agoura Hills had the greatest decrease in the number of sales, down 44% Y-o-Y. Initially, sales activity in the first three months of the year was approximately the same as it was 2019 — 56 transactions as opposed to 57, respectively. However, a significant drop aligned with the COVID-19 lockdown. Specifically, between April and June, there was a 68% decline in sales, falling from 105 recorded in 2019 to just 34 in 2020. What’s more, 75% of the sales in 2020 were single-family homes, whereas the same can be said of only 67% of sales in 2019.

Nearby, Calabasas also saw sales plummet 43%, despite a 4% increase in its median sale price. Once again, the significant drop — a 63% decline in sales activity — registered after the lockdown. In particular, 37 transactions were registered between April and June 2020, as opposed to 101 in the same period last year.

Along the coast, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach saw their transactions decline by 43% and 36%, respectively, despite slight upticks in prices. Further inland, Downey’s transactions fell 40% between 2019 and 2020 — from 350 sales to 211. Likewise, in Hawthorne, transactions fell by 39%.

At the same time (and despite seeing prices rise more than 10% Y-o-Y), sales activity declined by 31% in both Beverly Hills and San Dimas. However, Glendale outpaced them with 32% fewer transactions on top of its falling prices. Meanwhile, Compton saw its sales fall by 28% with 87 fewer transactions, although its median increased $32,500 Y-o-Y.

Pico Rivera: Only City in L.A. County to Increase Sales Activity

While the City of Los Angeles registered a 5% uptick in median sale prices Y-o-Y, the number of transactions actually declined by 23%. In fact, nearly 3,000 fewer homes were sold, with transactions decreasing from 12,257 to 9,440 Y-o-Y. For instance, the aptly named Long Beach— which is bordered by more than five miles of beaches — saw its transactions fall 17% Y-o-Y, with 275 fewer transactions in 2020. Along the same lines, Mojave Desert cities Palmdale and Lancaster both saw sales decrease by 228 and 235 transactions Y-o-Y, respectively, despite the fact that they both also experienced 10% growth in their median sale prices.

Further along the Antelope Valley Freeway toward Los Angeles, the number of sales also decreased in Santa Clarita, which had 213 fewer transactions this year compared to last. And, notably, Pico Rivera had the distinction of being the only city in L.A. County that actually had an increase in the number of homes sold in the first half of 2020. Its number of transactions rose 10% Y-o-Y.

Beverly Hills is Most Expensive City with $3.3 Million Median, Prices Surpass $2 Million in Malibu & Manhattan Beach

With county-wide medians surpassing $500,000 in both 2019 and 2020, it comes as no surprise that Los Angeles is synonymous with expensive real estate. As a matter of fact, medians surpassed $1 million in nine of the 10 most expensive cities. Topping the list of expensive cities was Beverly Hills, which was the only city with a median above the $3 million mark. And, despite a 31% decrease in the number of sales, homes here still managed to register a price increase of 15% Y-o-Y. As a result, medians rose to $3,274,500 from $2,843,000 — a surge of more than $400,000.

The second-most expensive city in the county, Malibu, saw its median drop from $2.75 million to $2.5 million Y-o-Y — a 9% decrease in price — accompanied by a 10% decrease in sales. The third runner-up was Manhattan Beach, which was the only other city in L.A. County with a median above $2 million at $2,240,000 million. Next, coming in at almost $2 million, was La Canada-Flintridge. Aside from Beverly Hills, its $1.8 million median in 2020 rose the most in terms of dollar amounts — spiking $102,500 from 2019’s $1,697,500 median.

In the less-than-$1.5-million range, Santa Monica came in first with a $1,367,500 median, despite a 2% decrease since 2019. Meanwhile, the median in Rancho Palos Verdes rose by nearly $100,000. More precisely, the median jumped 7% from $1.205 million to $1.286 million Y-o-Y. Further north in famous Calabasas, homes sold for a median of $1.204 million. It’s worth noting that 6% of all transactions here were more than $4 million, including two $9 million homes that were sold to the same buyer — one in the Calabasas Hills and one adjacent to Parkway Calabasas — as well as one $11.25 million estate at The Oaks.

Also growing in price by almost $100,000 was Arcadia, where the median climbed from $1,087,500 to $1,174,000 between 2019 and 2020. Next, Redondo Beach was the last of the most expensive cities in our study. Here, the median surpassed $1 million, rising from $1,011,500 to $1,057,500 Y-o-Y. However, like Calabasas, Redondo Beach also saw a dramatic, 43% decline in transactions. It was surpassed only by Agoura Hills’s 44% decline in transactions. Closing out the top 10 most expensive cities in L.A. County was Culver City, which inched closer to the $1 million mark in 2019 with its $951,000 median sale price. But, Culver City furthered itself from that price range this year with an $896,000 median sale price — a 6% decline compared to 2019.

Beverly Hills’ Warner Estate Sells for $100 Million More Than Runner-Up

Los Angeles County, abundant in wealthy enclaves, has always been a favorite of the rich and famous. As such, we turn our attention next to the city’s top ultra-luxury sales. Notably, the number of transactions above $5 million (which is our benchmark for ultra-luxury real estate prices) was affected by the pandemic, as well. Specifically, sales of ultra-luxury homes fell 9%, from 332 sales in 2019 to 303 in 2020. However, the median price for these ultra-luxury homes still rose by 1% Y-o-Y, from $6.99 million last year to $7.05 million this year.

In terms of actual sales, the most expensive sale in the first half of 2020 was the 1930s Warner Estate purchased by Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, which he bought for $165 million from media giant David Geffen. The spectacular, 9.4-acre estate overflowing with Hollywood history was even celebrated in Architectural Digest.

Also in the 90210 ZIP code and adjacent to a property once owned by Frank Sinatra, the second-most expensive sale was the home of sports and entertainment executive Casey Wasserman. It sold for $65 million after initially being listed for $125 million in 2018. Not far behind at $60 million, the ultra-luxurious new property at 10721 Stradella Court — appropriately named “Sky Garden” for its 270-degree views of Los Angeles — was the third-most expensive residential transaction of the first half of 2020.

Meanwhile, Spanish-style mansion “The Bellagio” in Bel Air was the highest-priced home to sell in L.A. County a month after the state-wide lockdown began. Although it was initially listed for $75 million in the fall of 2018, it eventually sold for $43 million — a 43% discount from its initial asking price. Also in the same price range was a mega mansion on one of Hollywood’s newly popular and so-called “bird streets.” The property at 9272 Robin Drive sold for $42.5 million after being listed for $58 million.

Methodology

Median home sale prices were calculated based on PropertyShark.com data. Median home sale price data was used for the January through June 2020 period, as well as for the January through June 2019 period. Data was analyzed at the county level and then at city level for each of the cities in our study. The following residential properties were considered in the study: single-family homes, condominiums and co-ops. All sales of $5 million and above constitute the ultra-luxury segment in our study.

On a city level, all incorporated cities with more than 80 transactions in Los Angeles County were included; all unincorporated areas were excluded. However, when looking at Los Angeles County as a whole, all areas were included, regardless of the number of transactions or whether they were incorporated or not.

CityMedian Home Price 2020Median Home Price 2019Change in Home Price 2020 vs. 2019Home Sales Activity 2020Home Sales Activity 2019Change in Home Sales Activity 2020 vs. 2019
Beverly Hills$3,274,500 $2,843,000 15%99144-31%
Malibu$2,500,000 $2,750,000 -9%8797-10%
Manhattan Beach$2,240,000 $2,195,000 2%140219-36%
La Canada-Flintridge$1,800,000 $1,697,500 6%107122-12%
Santa Monica$1,367,500 $1,399,000 -2%236281-16%
Rancho Palos Verdes$1,286,000 $1,205,000 7%220242-9%
Calabasas$1,204,000 $1,157,500 4%94164-43%
Arcadia$1,174,000 $1,087,500 8%172224-23%
Redondo Beach$1,057,500 $1,011,500 5%238414-43%
Culver City$896,000 $951,000 -6%143199-28%
West Hollywood$875,000 $800,000 9%153180-15%
Torrance$850,000 $799,000 6%442526-16%
Pasadena$828,000 $805,000 3%511611-16%
Walnut$802,000 $729,500 10%87108-19%
Burbank$800,000 $835,000 -4%274361-24%
Glendale$785,000 $815,000 -4%387568-32%
Agoura Hills$763,250 $805,000 -5%90162-44%
Los Angeles$732,500 $700,000 5%9,44012,257-23%
Cerritos$725,000 $689,500 5%125174-28%
Monrovia$715,000 $707,500 1%126155-19%
Claremont$685,500 $659,000 4%155165-6%
Hawthorne$674,000 $625,000 8%94153-39%
Monterey Park$660,000 $645,000 2%135161-16%
San Dimas$650,000 $579,000 12%134194-31%
Glendora$642,455 $575,000 12%228273-16%
La Verne$641,000 $635,000 1%135153-12%
Alhambra$636,000 $638,000 0%136169-20%
Diamond Bar$628,000 $618,000 2%247327-24%
Lakewood$617,000 $571,000 8%370420-12%
Downey$615,000 $575,500 7%211350-40%
La Mirada$610,000 $575,000 6%202248-19%
Whittier$600,000 $550,000 9%293339-14%
Duarte$579,000 $520,000 11%8091-12%
West Covina$578,000 $550,000 5%317348-9%
Inglewood$575,000 $550,000 5%140178-21%
Long Beach$575,000 $550,000 5%1,3731,648-17%
Covina$557,000 $532,500 5%145184-21%
Santa Clarita$553,000 $535,000 3%1,2351,448-15%
Gardena$541,000 $545,000 -1%121156-22%
Montebello$537,000 $506,000 6%127148-14%
Carson$536,000 $520,000 3%231286-19%
Bellflower$529,000 $510,000 4%133165-19%
El Monte$516,000 $457,500 13%121164-26%
Pico Rivera$515,000 $462,500 11%15714310%
Norwalk$505,000 $480,000 5%275351-22%
Azusa$497,000 $460,000 8%144187-23%
Baldwin Park$465,000 $435,000 7%131170-23%
South Gate$445,000 $440,000 1%105130-19%
Pomona$443,500 $420,000 6%378489-23%
Compton$435,000 $402,500 8%219306-28%
Palmdale$345,000 $315,000 10%8991,127-20%
Lancaster$307,000 $280,000 10%1,0331,268-19%
Andreea Popescu

Andreea Popescu

Andreea Popescu is a copywriter with ten years of legal experience, including real estate and marketing. She is an ABA-certified paralegal and has an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from California State University, Northridge. She worked as a legal manager at a marketing firm and as a legal writer. Currently, Andreea brings her combined knowledge of the fields to report on real estate developments for PropertyShark. Reach her at [email protected]