The Greater Los Angeles Area consistently ranks as is one of the hottest luxury real estate markets in the world. Perhaps it is because the weather is so hard to beat; home shoppers won’t face the prospect of gloomy fog and cloudy skies as they would in other major cities like San Francisco, London, or Paris.
And, it’s one of the largest luxury markets in the world. While demand may ebb and flow during economic cycles, the fact that L.A. is the longtime hub of the entertainment business (which is more recession-proof than other industries) stabilizes the market.
Luxury Homes for Sale in Los Angeles
L.A. Luxury Real Estate
Luxury homes can be defined using completely objective market data, though its meaning is often subjective, based – in part – on consumer opinion.
From a data-driven angle, the luxury classification is assigned based on a combination of quantifiable factors including the price, location, and median income of occupants. These elements are tightly coupled, too, as you will see below.
What’s less easy to tabulate, is how the perception of home buyers play a role in determining what is considered a luxury property in Los Angeles and what is not.
Luxury real estate in Los Angeles comes in two flavors. At the highest end of the market, the term ultra-luxury is reserved for properties only attainable to the wealthiest 1%, also known as ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI’s). These buyers are looking for mega mansions and trophy properties.
Just below that, the single-word luxury designation can be assigned to the top ten percent of listings in a market. Starting prices for exclusive homes for sale vary by country and region. Home values break the following way:
- $2.1M Worldwide
- $1.6M United States
- $4M in Los Angeles
For example, a $1.6 million-dollar listing in Los Angeles would not be considered a luxury home. However, that same property a few miles north, in Santa Clarita, might very well fit the bill.
Many properties get the luxury label when they are not. Real estate listing brokers have a habit of labeling homes for sale as “luxury” even if the price of the subject property falls below the widely-accepted definition above.
Consumer perception matters, too. That’s because consumers ultimately have the final say about what is and is not luxury, based on their opinions. They may feel a certain way about a house that is well-designed, relatively upscale, and well-appointed. For Los Angeles, any property priced $1.5M and above is considered a luxury home by most home shoppers, more in-line with the U.S. average.
The RubyHome website carries every luxury home in Los Angeles from the largest regional MLS. Given the way consumers think about the luxury classification, our default search above includes homes starting at $1.5 million. It never hurts to display a broader selection and help clients who may care less about strict definitions.
A home doesn’t necessarily have to be massive to earn a ‘luxury’ classification. In fact, it could be a condominium in Downtown Los Angeles. Square footage alone is not a determining factor, nor would the property’s designation change based on the number of rooms. However, the designation of ‘mansion’ is generally accepted as 10,000 square feet and up.
Luxury Home Features
Los Angeles is hilly, and many homes have panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains, Pacific Ocean, and a metropolitan skyline. You just won’t find the same gorgeous collision of urban and mountainous landscapes in other major cities, especially those situated on flatter terrain.
You can expect high-quality construction materials inside and out, with plenty of attention paid to details; these are a few of the things that make a house elegant. Prefab or composite flooring is never used, only natural wood, designer-grade carpet, stone, or concrete make the cut. Home shoppers can expect the same level of quality for countertops.
Expect a chef’s kitchen with high-end appliances from brands such as Sub-Zero / Wolf, Viking, Thermador, Gaggenau, Miele, La Cornue.
Welcoming entrances with foyers that lead to master staircases give visitors an epic first impression. Look for vaulted ceilings, crown moldings, and other details that indicate a high level of craftsmanship.
Many luxury homes in Los Angeles have a backstory. There may be a history of celebrities who’ve previously owned the property. Or the home could have been designed by a notable architect (a.k.a. “starchitect”). Either scenario (or both) can further add to a home’s appeal.
Did you know some Los Angeles Luxury Realtors hire Feng Shui consultants to help stage homes before listing them on the regional MLS? Yep, it’s a thing here.
Here are some more amenities by luxury property type:
L.A. Luxury Homes
- Theaters, arcade rooms, decontaminating showers, walk-in closets, full outdoor kitchens, multi-car garage, detached in-law units
- Smart home technology where automation handles the heating/cooling system optimization
- Systems and appliances managed remotely via internet connectivity (e.g., security and appliances set or turned on/off via smartphone)
- State-of-the-art technology like electric car charging stations and solar panel arrays
- Robust security systems with video surveillance
L.A. Ultra-Luxury Homes
- Spa, underground lap pool
- IMAX theater
- Walk-in closets big enough to play a touch football game inside (speaking of sports, and all kidding aside, you might enjoy a game with friends in your indoor basketball court)
- Private Vineyards – yep, even in Los Angeles where land is scarce
L.A. Luxury Buildings
- Concierge service
- Balconies with panoramic views
- Top-of-the-line fitness center
- On-premise spa
- Upgraded appliances
Tips for Buying a Luxury Home in Los Angeles
Prepare Your Financial Documents
Protecting a luxury home buyer’s privacy (and sometimes the seller wishes to remain anonymous, too) is prized in high-end real estate markets. Luxury buyers are also subject to more financial scrutiny as part of the buying process.
Loan pre-approvals and prepared financial statements are key. Financial managers, accountants, and personal bankers can put together the appropriate documents that demonstrate a buyer’s qualifications. In fact, the odds of viewing a home without an established and well-documented financial profile will be very low.
Reviewing the Luxury Condo Association’s Financial Statements
In the luxury condominium market, there will be an additional layer of financial scrutiny beyond a buyer’s financial ability to make a purchase. Unless you’re paying cash, your loan underwriter will review the condo board’s financials to make sure the condominium association is solvent (members are paid up, and cash flow is stable). Outstanding liens, pending lawsuits, or a history of member late payments can derail a final loan approval.
Pick a Home with Privacy
Celebrities and business executives seeking quiet refuge and security will be pleased to find many properties include stylish hedges, fences, and walls that separate their yard from the street and keep the prying eyes of tourists, nosey neighbors, and paparazzi at bay. L.A. has several gated communities, too.
Ask your agent about the local streets. Aim for those with less traffic. Better yet, focus your home search on properties in cul-de-sacs. Excess traffic can be an issue in the Hollywood Hills because of tourists seeking to get as close as possible to the Hollywood Sign. Agents who know the area can point out the busiest thoroughfares to avoid.
L.A. is a mix of high and medium density neighborhoods; most lots here are not that big until you get into the upper echelon of homes. Backyard pools tend to be small but still sufficient for lap swimming and entertaining.
Beware, private beaches do not exist anywhere along California’s 840-mile coastline. In fact, property owners are fined from time-to-time for blocking or obfuscating easements to public beaches. The California Coastal Commission has threatened fines up to $11,250 per day for property owners who attempt to prevent public access. Anyone who tells you that a Malibu home comes with a private beach is either ignorant or a storyteller.
Luxury markets have lower turnover; expensive homes take longer to sell. In fact, luxury houses for sale in Los Angeles sit 4x to 5x the number of Days on Market (DOM) than the local average. Therefore, any investor would want to consider liquidity, especially when economic conditions are turbulent. Home values can sometimes fluctuate faster than a luxury home can sell.
What’s more, if you’re selling a luxury home in Los Angeles, you’re not only competing with local inventory, but with other cities all together. UHNWI’s not only care about the style and amenities of a property, but they are also making a lifestyle decision. For example, buyers looking for great golfing and plenty of year-round sunshine might compare L.A. to San Diego or Miami. Real estate agents that specialize in luxury properties need to know quite a bit about their city, what it offers, and how it compares to other top markets in order to best inform and serve their clients.
Los Angeles Luxury Realtors
Thinking of buying a luxury property in L.A.? Our luxury real estate buyer’s agents are at-the-ready to assist you. If you’re selling a home, contact us to speak with one of our Los Angeles Luxury Realtors about listing your estate. We will provide current market data, comparison property information, and a highly-tailored marketing plan to make sure you get the best price for your home.