Million Dollar Listing LA is over for another season. You may be saddened, you may be auditioning for the spin-offs in Miami and Dallas. One thing is for sure, the suave wheeler-dealers of the series got us thinking about real estate trends, especially in Malibu, where some of the show is set.
Recovering from the huge drops in price of 2011, Malibu has seen the end of the buyer’s market and a return to normality; high demand, limited inventory1.
The median sales price for properties in the Malibu area has dropped -2.7%, in comparison to this time in 2012. Such a decrease is mainly a reflection on the drop in house prices for 4+ bedroom houses2, which has subsequently pulled down median house prices across the board. Despite the drop in demand for 4+ bedrooms, other house categories saw a marked increase.
In July-October of 2013, the asking price for 4+ bedroom houses dropped by -10.6%, whereas prices for 1 bedroom properties saw an increase of +38.3%. This has ultimately led to an upswing of price per square foot in Malibu of +1.6%, to $713p/sqft3.
Invasion of the DINCs
DINCs (Dual Income No Children) dominate the demographic of Malibu buyers. According to Movoto, 60% of households in Malibu are either single, or married couples without children … so scratch that; DINCs and SINCs dominate.
A majority of household income levels in the area also exceed 150k per year, so the affluent, childless demographic is a recurring theme amongst Malibu buyers4. With such a large proportion of the market not looking for a family home, it is little wonder that less palatial houses are increasing in demand.
Carefully managing this varied demographic, with limited inventory, and an intimate knowledge of the area is the key to the unique skill set of the Malibu Agent. A skill set they are extremely proud of, and use to lucrative affect.
Three - Million Dollar Realities
So as the title of the show suggests, the median asking (and selling) prices of homes in Malibu certainly does fit the reality of the ‘million dollar listing’. However, the show doesn’t reflect the realities of the real estate industry in a more general sense. Here’s where we think the series is out of step:
1. There are no female leads
Apart from Heather Bilyeu - whom Josh Altman proposed to on last Wednesday’s finale - there are very few if any women featured in the show. While, Heather has grown by leaps and bounds in her professional competency during the season, she would still be the first female MDL cast member, ever.
With successful agents like Catherine Marcus (in the Top 100 Real Estate agents in the United States), and Jade Mills (Top Producing Coldwell Banker Agent in the US)5 in and around LA - to name but two - we think it’s about time these sassy saleswomen deserve a shoutout.
If the figures collected by Trulia in 2011 on gender trends in real estate are accurate, the ratio of women in the real estate business is actually incredibly positive (Source: Zillow)
Men in the sample seemed to have more listings than women, but in terms of sheer numbers women outnumber men working in real estate6.
Reasons for the male dominated cast are probably numerous, but it seems a shame that the only female agent in the show was the assistant and love interest before she was portrayed as a capable professional in her own right.
2. Agents in Malibu are Infamous
Don’t believe everything you see. That’s the old saying. While the drama of the show is what every good plot line needs, the lives of the average and million dollar listing agents is far removed from TV reality.
While still rivals, the cast members have to work together and collaborate as professionals in real life. Chris Cortazzo from MDLLA’s first season was quoted in an interview as saying ‘I don’t want to be the guy remembered as a top agent, I want to be remembered as a nice guy’7. Wise words from the man who is the top Keller Williams agent … in the world!
Reputation is everything in Malibu, but these agents know that the reputation played out for the camera is not the one that matters with their clients, and connections. Considering that the listings featured on the shows represent only a tenth of the clients of the MDLLA cast, the show portrays a small proportion of the actual interactions the cast members have with clients and other agents. The qualities that make them great agents are their work ethic, honesty, and discretion rather than the ‘tricks’ they have up their sleeve.
3. Real Estate is a young mans’ game
Just like our point about the discrepancy in gender representation, the show also paints a reality, where real estate is filled with young well-manicured men, running around California on the hunt for the next big deal. According to the National Association of Realtors the average age of a REALTOR® is 57 years old; a statistic the industry is well aware of8.
However, we’re not so sure representations of younger agents is such a bad thing for the industry. Imprev found in their 2013 Thought Leader Survey that one of the biggest challenges for brokerages was recruiting younger agents9. Perhaps the series will bring some of the excitement that attracts millennial talent as they come into the workforce. Don’t go taking your older agents for granted though. They are powerful assets to your company, and skilled mentors for new comers.
While these observations on the state of Malibu and MDL may not surprise you, it helps to get some perspective on the hype surrounding one of the most famous housing markets, and best rated real estate shows in the country. If nothing else the show has created an incredible amount of interest in Malibu housing, essentially acting as a marketing tool for the listings that the shows stars are selling, for both domestic and international buyers.
Malibu is still a super lucrative market, and shows few signs of slowing down, but it takes a unique blend of networking, work ethic and discretion to work the market the way some of Malibu’s best agents do. With new spinoffs planned for Miami and Dallas, the MDLLA concept is as popular as ever, bringing a little cool glamour (and drama) back to the Real Estate biz.
So back to the real topic at hand which #MDLLA team did you root for in the last season; #TeamJoshFlagg, #TeamJoshAltman or #TeamMadison? Are you signing up to be an agent on the Miami or Dallas edition? Let us know in the comments.
-  Trulia (http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Malibu-California/market-trends/)
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Movoto (http://www.movoto.com/statistics/ca/malibu.htm#city=&time=5Y&metric=Median%20List%20Price&type=0)
-  REAL Trends (http://www.realtrends.com/products/top-1000-sales-professionals/individual-volume12)
-  Trulia Blog (http://trends.truliablog.com/2011/10/is-real-estate-a-mans-or-womans-world/)
-  Forbes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWpExOqtQwE)
-  REALTOR Org (http://www.realtor.org/reports/member-profile)
-  Imprev (http://agbeat.com/business-news/real-estate-firms-struggling-to-attract-younger-agents/)