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As the pandemic wore on, wealthy Angelenos decided if they couldn’t go to brunch, they would go to the beach. 

Coastal cities in Los Angeles County reported tremendous growth in single-family home sales last year, driven by Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, and the lumped-together markets of Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. 

COVID-19 prompted many of us to spend more time outdoors, whether that meant catching waves on a surfboard or hiking through state parks. Los Angeles’ oceanside neighborhoods offer ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, lined with sandy beaches, bike paths and scenic parks. And without the hassle of Pacific Coast Highway traffic during commute hours, buyers working remotely seized the chance to move to these laid-back, seaside communities.

Drawing from data published in The Red Paper 2020, The Agency’s annual real estate market report covering the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, we take a deep dive into how single-family home sales performed in these four LA beach cities.

Malibu

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Malibu blew all other LA markets out of the (ocean) water, recording a 104 percent increase in single-family home sales in 2020. “People from cities across the country looked to the California Coast to ride out the pandemic or finally plant roots without office life constraints,” reads the report. 

A total of 255 Malibu properties changed hands, and inventory sank to 6.5 months of supply, a 54 percent decline year-over-year that placed the market firmly into seller’s territory. This resulted in fierce competition among hopeful buyers, sending median home prices up eight percent to $3.6 million. There’s no indication that the Malibu market will cool off anytime soon, with The Agency noting that we should “expect developers to rebuild, remodel or repair properties that were affected by the 2019 fires.”

Pacific Palisades

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Known for its prestigious charter schools and village-like atmosphere, Pacific Palisades is a popular market among young families in search of their forever home. “2020 saw a surge in buyers from across Los Angeles seeking larger, multi-generational homes with five or six bedrooms, dual offices, homework rooms, gyms, expanded backyards and guest houses,” the report explains.

Single-family home sales in Pacific Palisades rose 21 percent last year, amounting to 251 transactions. Median home prices ticked up accordingly, increasing seven percent to $3.3 million. The Agency anticipates “a strong year ahead” for LA’s Westside as a wave of new construction single-family homes that were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic finally hit the market.

Santa Monica

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Breaking from the pack, Santa Monica saw a 13 percent improvement in sales without escalating home prices. The typical single-family home fetched $2.7 million, merely one percent above 2019 levels. Unlike other LA beach markets, Santa Monica logged a 50 percent increase in active listings with 2.9 months of supply on the market — the highest it’s been in at least four years.

While The Agency didn’t list any reasons for Santa Monica’s swell in active listings, it may have something to do with families seeking to upgrade their living spaces. Although adorable, its beach bungalows don’t always provide enough room for working remotely or learning over Zoom.

Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach

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The Beach Cities, a swath of coastal land that includes Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach, recorded a nine percent rise in single-family home sales, amounting to 997 transactions. Prices inched up three percent to $1.9 million as active listings plummeted 16 percent to 2.3 months of supply.

Once considered too far-flung for downtown office workers, the Beach Cities are attracting a new wave of buyers with the freedom to work from home. “The summer saw heightened sales activity, with homes from $2.5+ million selling within two to three weeks,” notes the report. The market is also popular among Silicon Beach tech workers, who hope to eventually return to their nearby, tricked-out offices.

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