Christie Realty Group, headquartered in Westlake Village, California, has welcomed luxury buyers to both the Los Angeles and Ventura counties for 30 years. Stephen Christie founded the brokerage when the migration along the Ventura Freeway to far-reaching upscale western suburbs was gaining momentum.
Like many Southern California brokerages, Christie Realty Group has experienced exponential growth during the months of COVID-19, resulting in numerous high-dollar sales and price records for the business. “All the market fundamentals here have changed since the pandemic. It’s been so busy in all the areas we serve. We have implemented new strategies to be able to run that fast mile yet pace yourself,” Christie says. He points to continuing low inventory across all markets as a major hurdle.
Westlake Village and neighboring communities such as Thousand Oaks, Lake Sherwood and North Ranch continue to attract buyers from Los Angeles, a migration that has only gained momentum during the pandemic, according to Christie. He attributes the westward shift to those “who want to get away from problems with schools, traffic and other urban issues affecting the quality of life there.”
“People want to buy the right home and are willing to pay for it. When they move here, they feel like they can breathe easier,” Christie adds.
Thousand Oaks, North Ranch, Lake Sherwood and Westlake Village have all experienced record-breaking sales activity and price creep over the last year. In Thousand Oaks, based on a six-month period through mid-September, has seen 70% of all active listings sell within the first 30 days on the market. The average sales price/list price ratio during that period was 104%.
Each of the four coveted communities comes with unique qualities and selling points. Westlake Village residents enjoy the 125-acre lake with 8 miles of shoreline for boating, waterfront dining, and walking trails that create the community’s heart. Excellent schools and an abundance of green space lure those Los Angeles buyers to this master-planned community. The Four-Seasons Hotel is one of the area’s top employers.
Westlake Village’s average sales price is $2,587,336, with home values increasing 14.2% over the past 12 months. “In Westlake Village, properties are selling a little over asking,” Christie confides.
With 11 top-rated elementary schools and several excellent private schools, families moving to the area look to Westlake Village as a place that is clean, safe, and one where you can put down roots. “This is a close-knit community yet is very welcoming to newcomers,” Christie explains.
Scenic Lake Sherwood is located behind gates in Ventura County. Celebrities like the security and privacy of the 1,500-resident community and the relaxed lifestyle of Lake Sherwood, California’s oldest man-made lake. Properties are large and often gated, with the highest-priced being waterfront. The lake offers swimming, boating and fishing.
“The average price [in Lake Sherwood] is about $3.3 million with a 95% list-to-sale price, and at that higher price point, we are seeing only about 30% of properties selling in 30 days,” Christie said. Prices have increased an astounding 616% in the last 12 months.
Thousand Oaks, located in the Conejo Valley, is the second-largest city in Ventura Country with a population of 79,888. The recent average sales price rang in at $1,405,000. Thousand Oaks offers a variety of housing choices, from sprawling single-family to more affordable condominiums and townhomes. Its highly rated school system boasts 21 elementary schools, including nine private schools.
Over the last year, price increases in Thousand Oaks have held at a more modest yet healthy 9.8%. The city has a “smart-growth” policy limiting suburban sprawl.
The prestigious 4,700-acre gated community of North Ranch is in the hills above Westlake Village and home to many private, large-lot estates. The North Ranch Country Club has 27 holes of championship golf. Three unified school districts serve the North Ranch community, including Oak Park Unified, Conejo Valley, and Las Virgenes. Thanks to the area’s long-standing desirability, inventory is scarce.
For homes of about 4,600 square feet, the average sold price in North Ranch was over $2.62 million as of mid-September.
Looking to 2022, Christie, whose industry experience covers several boom and bust markets, shares his thoughts. “I think the first quarter will determine the market of 2022. Sellers will still need to have the discussion of ‘where am I going?’ With inventory staying low, they should have a ‘Plan B’ of maybe renting for a while.” Still, he cautions that “markets can change seemingly overnight though.” How true that is.