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“Home” Means More Now 

Tanya Starcevich, Ranked Top 10% Keller Williams, Palisades | Malibu | Topanga. Photo courtesy of Tanya Starcevich

The real estate market is extremely hot and prices are accelerating at a fast pace due to high demand and lack of listing inventory. With interest rates remaining low for the foreseeable future, we are experiencing a very strong growth market. 

The condominium market in high-rise areas like the Wilshire Corridor or DTLA is not experiencing the same kind of robust growth for obvious reasons – buyers want out of crowds—they are not wanting to get in elevators or pay high Homeowner Association (HOA) dues. People are gravitating towards private yards and more space in less dense and rural areas such as Topanga and Malibu. Work-from-home has created an urban flight and an overall 43 percent of potential buyers attribute the pandemic to their most recent move. 

Virtual showings and closing solutions keep us at minimal contact with Facetime walkthroughs and 3D tours. Health and cleanliness is at the forefront and the California Association of Realtors enforced strict guidelines last spring before opening up our industry to the public. 

Second homes are high in demand and as the housing supply is even tighter we are seeing California median home prices reaching an all time high. The high end of the market is projected to follow this trend.

With inventory low we anticipate this market to continue upward well into 2021. The housing shortage coupled with historically low interest rates and population growth along with the lack of new homes all add up to the best time to sell, ever. While we never know when we are at the top—I learned from my wise tax consultant Mark Scully that it’s better to sell close to the top than on the way down…we typically see prices rise slower and fall at a faster rate.

Many homeowners are tapping into their equity to purchase second homes—and this is a smart move if you can afford to take advantage of the equity in your home while prices remain high.

Topanga is one of the hardest markets to compare with regards to pricing due to so many factors including location, size, views, condition, permitted work, usable land and updates. An older A Frame home can sell for more than a newer built custom home—and it really depends on the appeal to our unique market of buyers. 

There are challenges with environmental issues, local hazards, proximity to town and access to public transportation along with our continuous changing elements and natural wildlife.  

Our unique market in Malibu also depends on microclimates, views, proximity and ease of access to city (East Malibu vs West Malibu) and private or gated communities that may or may not be enticing to those seeking a “Way of Life”. Topanga is a “Natural High” and people come here to slow down.

Sellers and buyers beware: brokerages offering a discount, unfamiliar with our complicated and extremely challenging Topanga and Malibu properties, seek to seduce unknowing clients with their lower commissions. We are already seeing lower “Zestimates” (value estimates provided by online real estate aggregators like Zillow, which coined the word), but their algorithm has been set to facilitate a fast sale. The money you save on commission can be lost with your bottom line and future problems after sale.

Your local agents have the expertise and ultimately you want the best protection when hiring a professional.  

For more information about your home value or info on refinancing contact Tanya at 

TNT asked Tanya if she could help define some of the terms we see in real estate materials. Here’s a short glossary.

Contingent. This means there are still opportunities for buyers to back out of the purchase or there is some other agreement in place that makes the sale “contingent” on that agreement or inspection being fulfilled. 

You can have a sale of your home “contingent” on finding a replacement home of your choice. You can have a sale of your home “contingent” on the buyer completing inspections and having a good appraisal from the lender/bank.

Off Market. Homes that are sold privately without any advertising to the public. Some people prefer anonymity and they are not really giving the market a chance to compete for the highest bidder—but they prefer to sell privately. Pending means in escrow ready to close escrow with no more offers being accepted

Pocket Sale. This term was used in the past allowing sellers to market and sell privately and agents would keep those homes in their “pocket” and pull them out when they had a buyer—this is still done but laws are changing dramatically and many agents can get in trouble marketing properties to other agents from different agencies with their pockets now.

The goal is to keep things on the up and up and not sell privately but allow everyone to see homes and keep the market fair.

Zestimate. A seller’s “estimate” of value. The word was coined by Zillow as the most reliable estimate and many people have relied on it for a few years now, but they have set themselves up as having a monopoly on the market and values.

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