Even in La La Land, where people live bathed in sunshine and Hollywood glamour, 2020 was a horrific year. The upending of normal life due to the coronavirus pandemic led people everywhere, including in this already lifestyle-obsessed city, to re-evaluate their homes and think about where and how they want to live.
For many high-net-worth households in Los Angeles, the instinct was to double down on what they love about Southern California: a healthy lifestyle spent primarily outdoors. For many people, that meant moving for more land rather than a bigger house. Those buyers want property for privacy and to create a private oasis for their family and friends. Other buyers want additional space so they can expand their indoor-outdoor layout or just want a new location with easier access to hiking, biking or the beach.
“The outdoor lifestyle is why people pay to live in Los Angeles,” said Cindy Ambuehl, a real estate agent with Compass in Los Angeles. “More than anything, they want to be able to breathe and to enjoy the gorgeous weather.”
Ed Kaminsky, a real estate agent with Strand Hill in Manhattan Beach, said the need for privacy and space means that luxury buyers are looking for larger properties for their primary residences and second homes.
“Size matters and so does a layout that has room for everyone to get away from each other as well as to gather together,” Mr. Kaminsky said.
The pandemic-induced trend of wanting a house with several home offices, a gym, a screening room and a larger yard also created a shift in where people want to live in the city, said Michael Nourmand, president of Nourmand & Associates Realtors in Los Angeles.
“A few years ago, there was this idea that Los Angeles would become more dense, and there would be more vertical living downtown,” he said. “Now we’re embracing the fact that we’re not New York. We want horizontal living and to see the blue sky.”
In addition, Mr. Nourmand said, the priority luxury buyers placed on a home in the hills with a view has shifted.
“Land is more of a priority, especially flat land with a backyard like a park in a location where you can walk or ride your bike,” he said. “That’s a lot easier to find when you’re not in the hills.”
Ms. Ambuehl said that her buyers are looking for one of two types of locations, both related to the desire to be outside.
“People want a home with more land and will even accept a smaller house with it, as long as every room opens to the outside,” Ms. Ambuehl said. “Buyers want a retreat and a lifestyle where they feel like they’re away from everything.”
For example, one of her recent listings, a 2,700-square-foot home on nearly three acres in Mandeville Canyon in Los Angeles, sold for $1.8 million above the asking price of $3.7 million.
Other buyers, Ms. Ambuehl said, prioritize a location where they can walk to shops and restaurants and to easily ride bikes with their children.
Los Angeles is known for its sprawl and its freeways, yet it also has many walkable communities. For example, beach communities such as Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach have shops and restaurants within walking distance of homes. Pacific Palisades has become more sought after since Palisades Village, a community of shops and restaurants, opened in 2018, said Ms. Ambuehl.
“Land is scarce in these neighborhoods, so anyone who wants a bigger lot will pay a high price for it,” Ms. Ambueh said.
Some buyers are moving farther from the traditionally desirable neighborhoods such as Bel Air, Holmby Hills and Beverly Hills to get more land, said James Harris, a real estate agent and principal of The Agency in Los Angeles.
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