In 1970, the median price of a home in Malibu was almost double that of California. Mind you, at that time, the spots along the beach had been built up much greater compared to the hills—as we see now. Malibu’s median was about $46,000 for mostly beach homes, compared to California at $25,000.

But even as the beach filled up and “land side” houses expanded, Malibu more than doubled the state average by 1975. By 1985, it was two-and-a-half times and growing.

The value of Malibu real estate is greatly displayed by this comparison. The truth is that Malibu has grown exponentially in value compared to the other types of real estate and the other places in California or around the world.

By 1995, the state median was at $178,000. Malibu was at $680,000—nearly a factor of four! It has kept increasing.

Malibu continues to be surrounded by ocean views, beaches, mountains and nature, with pleasant shopping and cultural features all around town. The essence of Malibu has only changed for the better (other than unreasonable, stifling building restrictions from within and the crush of ever more traffic and visitors from outside). It continues to grow more desirable on the world stage, overall.

Many homes in Malibu have sold at least five times in the past 30 years. The adjacent chart tracks many of them and provides strong visual proof of great appreciation for Malibu homes over time. It just takes patience.

Home Values

The chart shows actual home sales and the neighborhood locations of those homes. Only five sales are selected, though many homes sold more times than that. 

Even with an average of 9.3 percent appreciation growth from the $46,000 median in 1970 to $3.6 million now, there have been plenty of pauses, if not outright drops in value. We are in a pause now. Buyers these days—who aren’t usually facing multiple offers, and knowing sellers can’t be rigid during this period, and (usually) are looking at the very long term for their Malibu living enjoyment—should consider this a sweet time to buy.

By the way, that 9.3 percent average annual appreciation over 49 years is for the full amount of the house. Considering some purchases are executed at 20 percent down, the actual rate of return for Malibu real estate has been about 46  percent—every year. As an average! Where else on earth do you get a 40 percent annual return? Before tax benefits.

The chart shows actual home sales and the neighborhood locations of those homes. Only five sales are selected, though many homes sold more times than that. (Many of the properties noted also have a celebrity ownership in their past.) These homes have all had a sale in each of the past three decades. Notice how prices go up. Notice also how the 2009-13 period was so ruinous for local values. 

What is not displayed here is when there were large upgrades in the homes. Larger price jumps are often attributed to remodeling, mainly. Almost all the primary neighborhoods in Malibu have had a sampling of this “five-sales-over-30 years” phenomena. Just a few highlights from the list:

 •A home in Big Rock that sold for $749,000 in 1990 got nearly $3.9 million two years ago.

•On Corral Beach, a home that was worth $825,000 in 1997 was worth $4.4 million in 2013.

•In Paradise View Estates, overlooking Paradise Cove, the house that sold for $1,325,000 in 1993 also sold for nearly $3.3 million in 2015.

•Point Dume: $761k in 1998; $4.9 million 20 years later

•Encinal Bluffs (with a celebrity involved) went from about $4 million in 1993 to more than $8 million in 2005 to $13 million last time in 2012. 

And on and on. It does not take five sales or more to demonstrate the incredible appreciation Malibu has provided over many years. A multitude of homes that sold in the 1990s and again in the past year register such breathtaking profits. Just one example, out of hundreds: A Malibu West home just sold in May for $2.5 million. Its last sale was in 1994 at $435,000.

Currently, as the Malibu median sale price hovers around $3.6 million, it is solidly six times greater than the state median. And still growing.

Rick Wallace has been a Realtor in Malibu for 31 years and a local real estate columnist for 25 years.

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