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Real Estate newsletter: Home prices hit an all-time high

A cartoon of a "For Sale" sign.
April home sales jumped 86.2% year over year with a total of 25,857 transactions, up from 13,889 in April 2020.
(San Diego Union-Tribune)

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter, where, at risk of sounding like a broken record, I am once again required to inform you that the market is hot — really hot.

In fact, it’s record-breakingly hot, according to April housing data. Last month, Southern California home prices soared to an all-time high, with the median hitting $655,000. That’s a 20.2% increase year over year; you’d have to go back to the Obama presidency to find the last increase of more than 20%.

Fear not: L.A. still has (relatively) affordable homes. You just have to know where to look. The median home price in L.A. County clocked in at $750,000 in April, so The Times took at look at seven homes in seven L.A. communities on the market for a little less: $700,000.

Some celebrity news in the San Fernando Valley: Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union sold their romantic hillside villa for $5.5 million. That’s half a million shy of what they paid, but something tells me they can afford to take the loss.

Good news and bad news in the commercial real estate sector (depending on how you look at it). The good news: The Lakers are staying put. Instead of potentially following the Clippers lead and moving to another part of town, they renewed their lease at the Staples Center for two more decades.

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The bad news: Skyslide has been marked for death. The glass attraction atop the U.S. Bank Tower will close as part of a $60-million upgrade that hopes to attract businesses rather than tourists. You’ll have to find somewhere else to spend your money on a four-second ride.

While catching up on the latest, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.

Record-breaking April

A "for sale" sign starts the bidding on a house in this cartoon.
April home sales jumped 86.2% year over year with a total of 25,857 transactions, up from 13,889 in April 2020.
(San Diego Union-Tribune)

Southern California home prices muscled to an all-time high in April as the real estate market got even hotter.

The six-county region’s median home price increased 20.2% year over year to a record $655,000, according to data from real estate firm DQNews. That’s $25,000 more than the previous median price record set in March. The 20.2% leap is the first year-over-year increase of more than 20% since December 2013.

April home sales jumped 86.2% year over year with a total of 25,857 transactions, compared with 13,889 in April 2020. It’s both a reflection of the pandemic-fueled housing boom and of a market that was chilled by the coronavirus last spring as sales died in escrow and would-be sellers decided not to move.

It’s the ninth straight month of double-digit price increases, and experts credit a mix of factors, including ultra-low mortgage rates, increasing demand for space and an emerging home-buying demographic: millennials.

Seven neighborhoods, seven homes

A black two-story home with stairs
This City Terrace home comes with a recently remodeled main home and a bonus space.
(Ace Misiunas)

It’s no secret: L.A.’s historically hot real estate market is brutal for buyers. The pandemic-fueled housing boom saw L.A. County’s median home price rise to $750,000 in April, a 19% increase year over year.

Bidding wars and a shortage of sellers are making good deals hard to come by, but there are still plenty of great options if you look in the right neighborhoods. The Times took a look at what roughly $700,000 buys right now in seven L.A. communities.

Power couple close a sale

A large white house with red tile roof
Spanning three stories, the 8,650-square-foot villa is navigated by a sculptural staircase that runs through the heart of the home.
(PostRAIN Productions)

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union scored a sale, but not a profit, in Sherman Oaks. They just unloaded their Mediterranean-style villa for $5.5 million, or half a million shy of what they paid in 2018.

They probably aren’t missing the money too much. The power couple dropped $17.9 million on a 17,000-square-foot showplace in Hidden Hills last year, and Wade, a three-time NBA champion, purchased an ownership stake in the Utah Jazz last month.

The Sherman Oaks home covers 8,650 square feet on a private promontory, taking in sweeping views of the San Fernando Valley. A private road approaches the home, which is navigated by an architectural staircase that spirals through the heart of the three-story floor plan.

Lakers are staying put

Two people walk toward Staples Center arena with welcome sign in foreground
A slow trickle of fans head toward the Staples Center entrance for the Lakers-Celtics game on April 15.
(Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times)

With their lease at Staples Center expiring in a few years, the Lakers could have followed the Clippers’ plan, moving to another part of town, building their own arena and keeping all the revenue, feature sportswriter David Wharton writes.

Instead, the defending NBA champions have chosen to stay put.

The franchise will extend its lease with owner AEG for another two decades through 2041. The agreement includes a commitment to spend “nine figures” on capital improvements and upgrades throughout the 22-year-old arena.

A team official said renovations were key to the extension, as was a desire to remain downtown.

Goodbye, Skyslide

A man slips down a glass slide high above downtown Los Angeles
Media members take a four-second ride 1,000 feet above downtown Los Angeles from the 70th floor to the 69th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The owner of U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles will spend $60 million to upgrade and reposition the 73-story skyscraper that has been a prominent feature of the city skyline since it was completed in 1989 but has labored to attract tenants in recent years, commercial real estate reporter Roger Vincent writes.

Part of the makeover calls for ending aspirations to become a tourist venue by doing away with its long-closed public observation deck and a sky-high outdoor slide, dubbed Skyslide, between two of the top floors that was launched with fanfare in 2016 by the previous owner.

Four seconds of hair-raising sliding down a glass attraction high above the city apparently wasn’t popular with visitors or the building’s tenants.

New York developer Silverstein Properties, which bought the building last year for $430 million, hopes to make the imposing tower more appealing to businesses in creative fields that have often turned their backs on high-rises in favor of newer campus-like properties with outdoor space and leisure-oriented amenities.

What we’re reading

In the latest dive into the intersection of real estate and NFTs, the New York Times spoke to the co-founder of SuperWorld, a virtual reality space with 64 billion plots of equal size covering the Earth. Users can hypothetically buy virtual land that holds the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum, and the company has already sold thousands of plots, with the average person spending $2,000.

Architectural Digest’s “Clever” section ran down its dream list of AirBnbs, and the striking group of rentables includes a glamping dome in North Carolina, a UFO-inspired structure in Joshua Tree and the Bloomhouse: a curving, whimsical space described as “part Willy Wonka, part ‘Big Lebowski.’”


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