Malibu, with its stunning coastline, luxurious lifestyle, and celebrity allure, is a dream destination for many prospective homebuyers. If you're considering diving into the Malibu real estate market, it's essential to be well-prepared and informed. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key steps and considerations for buying real estate in Malibu, ensuring you make a smart and satisfying investment.

Understanding the Malibu Real Estate Market

Understanding the local market is where most people should begin when considering buying real estate in Malibu. Malibu real estate is actually a bit of an outlier when looking not only at the national real estate market but even when comparing it with the rest of L.A.. Malibu Real Estate is famous for its higher price tags. This is due primarily due to its ideal location, breathtaking views and limited availability. Malibu itself is only 21 miles long by one mile wide and most of the best homes are located at the beach or in a few select neighborhoods. Currently prices are high, particularly now after the boom in covid placing real estate listings in Malibu CA closer to a sellers market. It’s important to be realistic with your budget as interest rates are a little higher than in the past. However new buyers should not shy away from finding their dream home in Malibu as refinancing can be done when mortgage rates eventually drop. Additionally, with a good realtor in Malibu California, the best price that benefits both parties can always be negotiated. If you need more information about the Malibu real estate market please check out our blog article here, or feel free to reach out where we can give you the most up to date information.

Researching Neighborhoods


Malibu is a diverse area with various neighborhoods, each offering unique characteristics and lifestyles. Before looking at homes, ask yourself these questions. Do you want to live by a beach, what are the local amenities like? Would you prefer more land in the mountains, or maybe something with a view. Each neighborhood offers different lifestyles and types of properties available. For more detailed information on every neighborhood in Malibu, please check out our “Neighborhoods” section above. Here are just a few of the neighborhoods in Malibu and unique features they offer

  • Malibu Colony: Known for its gated community and celebrity homes. Higher prices, close to town center.
  • Point Dume: Offers large lots and private beach access. Close to the market.
    Malibu Park: Close to schools and equestrian facilities, ideal for families. Great hiking and many private gated homes.
  • Carbon Beach: Also known as "Billionaire's Beach," featuring some of the most luxurious homes in Malibu.
  • Malibu West: Farthest neighborhood in western Malibu. Easy access to Zuma Beach and a private beach club. Local market nearby. However smaller homes but more affordable.
    Take the time to visit these neighborhoods, talk to locals, and get a feel for the community to determine which area aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.

Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

Working with an experienced real estate agent who specializes in Malibu real estate is crucial. A good real estate agent will have in-depth knowledge of the market, access to exclusive listings, and the negotiation skills needed to secure the best deal. If you are reading this feel free to reach out here.  At Shen Realty, with over 20 years of experience and growing up in Malibu, we have expert knowledge of what the best Malibu realtor can offer. Rated number one in Sotheby's International Realty Malibu, we know the luxury real estate market better than any other agent in Malibu. Buying a home is often the most important financial decision in many people’s lives, so finding not just an agent who not only will help you buy or sell your home but also serve as an advocate helping you navigate to the next chapter of your life is key.

Exploring Real Estate Listings Malibu CA


Once you've chosen your agent and a few neighborhoods you are interested in, it's time to start exploring real estate listings in Malibu, CA. We will help curate a list of homes in Malibu that perfectly fit your criteria. It's essential to prioritize your needs and wants, such as the number of bedrooms, outdoor space, proximity to the beach, and any specific amenities you desire. We have in-depth knowledge on all of Malibu’s home inventory and can help guide you to a few properties that fit both your needs and your budget.

Conducting Thorough Inspections


When you find a property that catches your eye, conducting thorough inspections is vital. Malibu's coastal environment can pose unique challenges, such as erosion, saltwater damage, and strict environmental regulations. We have a team of  professional inspectors who are familiar with Malibu properties to assess the condition of the home and identify any potential issues. It’s important to work with inspectors as often the largest pitfall when buying a home is finding out structural or other legal issues that may come with the home. Even if everything about the home looks perfect, there can often be hidden issues. We are here to help you to avoid unexpected costs and fatigue that come with buying a home and guarantee that your dream property is a sound investment.

Understanding Legal and Zoning Regulations


Malibu has specific legal and zoning regulations that can impact your property purchase. One critical entity to be aware of is the Malibu Coastal Commission, which oversees development along the coastline to ensure environmental protection and public access. Here are a few examples of zoning regulations specific to Malibu:

  • Height Restrictions: Malibu has strict regulations on the height of buildings, especially near the coastline, to preserve views and the natural landscape. Generally, the maximum height is 18 feet in residential zones.
  • Setback Requirements: Properties must adhere to setback requirements, which dictate how far structures must be from property lines, roads, and the coastline. For oceanfront properties, setbacks can significantly impact the placement of new constructions.
  • Environmental Protections: Malibu's zoning laws include provisions for protecting native habitats, wetlands, and other environmentally sensitive areas. Development plans must include measures to mitigate environmental impacts.
  • Septic Systems: Due to the lack of a centralized sewage system in many parts of Malibu, properties often rely on septic systems. New installations or upgrades must meet stringent guidelines to protect groundwater and coastal waters.

A good real estate agent should help you navigate these rules and ensure your plans comply with local laws. Understanding these regulations is crucial, especially if you plan to make any renovations or additions to the property. After your buy your home and are planning to build that beautiful additional dwelling unit for your guests and friends to stay in, the worst thing to find out is that you can’t cut down the oak tree where you planned to build it without the appropriate permit.

Securing Financing


Before even looking at homes in Malibu, many sellers require buyers to have proof of funds or lending approval. This is usually due to many of the high end individuals who live in Malibu not wanting to show their home to any old Joe who wants to see the property. However, securing financing for Malibu real estate can often be challenging due to the high property prices. It's crucial to get pre-approved for a mortgage and have your finances in order before making an offer. Work with a lender who has experience with high-value properties and can offer you competitive rates and terms. If you need financial advice or recommendations for reputable lenders, please feel free to reach out.

Making an Offer and Closing the Deal

Once you've found your dream home and secured financing, it's time to make an offer. We will assist you in crafting the best and most competitive offer based on market analysis and recent sales data. Be prepared for negotiations and potential counteroffers. Once your offer is accepted, you'll enter the closing process, which involves finalizing the mortgage, conducting a final inspection, and signing the necessary paperwork.

Enjoying Your New Malibu Home


After closing the deal, it's time to move in and enjoy your new Malibu home. Whether you're drawn by the serene beaches, vibrant community, or luxurious lifestyle, living in Malibu is a unique and rewarding experience. Take advantage of all that Malibu has to offer and make the most of your investment in this iconic coastal paradise.

If you are interested in Malibu Real Estate, or beach homes for sale Malibu CA, or wondering if it's time to sell my home in Malibu CA, feel free to contact us! We're happy to help you find homes for sale Malibu CA or anywhere in the Los Angeles area. Our team of Malibu real estate agents and market specialists at Sotheby's International Realty are looking forward to being of service to you. To find out more contact us here.