The luxury housing market in Los Angeles may not be immune to Covid-19, but it seems to have built up a strong resistance to the impact of the pandemic.

Many top luxury brokers agree that high-end properties are in demand in L.A.

Since Oct. 1, 2019, 10 homes on the market have sold for $33 million or more, according to data from Redfin. And a number of off-market home sales in the past six months have topped $100 million.

Former Dreamworks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg recently sold his custom-
built home in Beverly Hills for $125 million. And Inc. founder Jeff Bezos made headlines this summer when he purchased the Warner Estate from David Geffen for $165 million.

Before that, the record for highest priced home sale in the area was set late last year when the Chartwell Estate, also known as the Beverly Hillbillies Mansion, sold for $150 million to Fox Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Lachlan Murdoch.

“Real estate is booming,” said Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agent Jade Mills, who ranked No. 8 on the Business Journal’s latest list of residential agents, with $362 million in sales in 2019. “We seem to have a lot more big buyers out now than I’ve ever seen in my 28 years.” 

Mills added that $25 million used to be considered a huge sale, but now people are more willing to spend closer to $100 million.

“People feel like real estate, no matter what, is a great investment. If you are in a prime location, people feel like real estate is the best investment they can make,” Mills said.

Compass’ Sally Forster Jones, No. 5 on the Business Journal’s list with $502 million in sales, said “the entry level and the high end are the strongest parts of the market.”

Jason Oppenheim, of Oppenheim Group, said that in January and February, he was “having the best start to any year we’ve ever had,” but things slowed down when Covid first hit. Now, the market is above average again, he said, largely due to pent-up demand.

“And that’s surprising before an election,” he added, saying that there is usually a 10% to 15% decrease in volume right before an election.

Part of the surge, agents say, is that the L.A. market is attracting more buyers from other U.S. cities. Unlike the international buyer push of years past, many buyers are local or coming from areas like New York and Florida.

David Kramer, an agent at Hilton & Hyland, said buyers are “primarily local. That’s our primary market, and then you’ve got people from New York and San Francisco and some other people. At a distant third, you are seeing some international money.”

Oppenheim added, “Most of the wealthy live in New York and, now that they are really considering moving, the beneficiaries are going to be Los Angeles and Miami — Los Angeles more than anywhere else.” 

Most agents agree on two things: Sellers are being more realistic on price, and buyers want land.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, there was more aspirational pricing, Jones said.

But now, she added, sellers have “less aspirational pricing and more realistic pricing. There’s no more overpricing, and people coming in and negotiating. Sellers are being reasonable. Buyers and sellers are on the same page. The sellers that are coming on the market well priced, their homes are selling.”

Kramer called current asking prices “more realistic. (Sellers) look at the history of some of the aspirational properties that haven’t sold. There’s important lessons just by looking at the last few years at the high end, which have been some of the best years ever at the high end.”

Realistic asking prices can get homes sold quicker, he added. 

Most high-end agents say there’s been a push by buyers for more land. Many still want views, but land is a higher priority — they want land, pools, offices and privacy.

“People are spending much more time at home and working frequently from home,” Jones said. “They want to have privacy. Gated properties are very much in demand.”

Some of this shift happened after this summer’s protests, Oppenheim said, which drove buyers to seek extra safety measures.

Home offices and “Zoom rooms” also top wish lists for luxury buyers, Jones said, along with wellness features like gyms.

The top home sales in the past year were off-market listings, meaning they did not appear on the Multiple Listing Service.

Some buyers and sellers prefer to keep things off-market for privacy reasons, and some sales occur off-market because sellers were not actually looking to sell a property until they got a high-priced offer.

“For the bigger sales, the buyers tend to want something off-market so they can keep it confidential, but it seems the word always gets out,” Mills said.

And there can be other reasons things sell off-market.

“If they are new properties and they are being developed right now, we are having buyers looking at properties before they are complete,” Jones said. “Those are selling off-market. On the newer luxury properties, that is clearly happening, where they are being viewed, and potential selling, as well.”

The strength in the high-end market is expected to continue through the end of 2020 and into 2021, the agents said.

“I think this will be the best year for the high end ever,” Kramer said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in 30 years of doing this. There’s just so many people out there looking.”

Top 10 On-Market Sales 
Since Oct. 1, 2019

1. 911 N. Foothill Road
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Listing Brokerage: Westside Estate Agency Inc.
Sales Price: $68 million

2. 10410 Bellagio Road
Neighborhood: Bel Air
Listing Brokerage: Hilton & Hyland
Sales Price: $43.3 million

3. 9272 Robin Drive
Neighborhood: Hollywood Hills
Listing Brokerage: Hilton & Hyland
Sales Price: $42.5 million

4. 1001 N. Roxbury Drive
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Listing Brokerage: NA
Sales Price: $39.2 million

5. 1500 Gilcrest Drive
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Listing Brokerages: Hilton & Hyland, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Sales Price: $37 million

6. 9955 Beverly Grove Drive
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Listing Brokerage: Hilton & Hyland
Sales Price: $36.8 million

7. 145 N. Mapleton Drive
Neighborhood: Beverly Crest
Listing Brokerage: Compass
Sales Price: $36.5 million

8. 8408 Hillside Ave.
Neighborhood: Hollywood Hills
Listing Brokerages: The Oppenheim Group, The Agency
Sales Price: $35.5 million

9. 1966 Carla Ridge
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Listing Brokerage: Compass
Sales Price: $35.5 million

10. 9268 Robin Drive
Neighborhood: Hollywood Hills
Listing Brokerages: Westside Estate Agency Inc., Hilton & Hyland
Sales Price: $33 million

*Source: Redfin

Notable Off-Market Sales

Since Oct. 1, 2019

The Warner Estate
Address: 1801 Angelo Drive
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Listing Brokerage: NA
Sales Price: $165 million
Backstory: Inc.’s Jeff Bezos purchased the home from David Geffen.

Chartwell Estate
Address: 875 Nimes Road
Listing Brokerages: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage,
Hilton & Hyland, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties
Neighborhood: Bel Air
Sales Price: $150 million
Backstory: The home was purchased by Lachlan Murdoch.

A Mansion in Beverly Hills
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Listing Brokerage: NA
Sales Price: $125 million
Backstory: Former Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg sold his custom-built home.

Address: 924 Bel Air Road
Neighborhood: Bel Air
Listing Brokerages: Hilton & Hyland, Nest Seekers International Realty
Sales Price: $94 million

*Source: News reports

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.