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“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!” No matter which way you tap those ruby-red slippers, there is truly no place like a home in Beverly Hills. As the land of the rich and the famous, where the big-league celebrities call home, Beverly Hills is a lauded international symbol of grandeur — a title it definitely deserves.
Whether it’s the iconic palm-lined Rodeo Drive, the abundant California sunshine, the screenings at Beverly Hill’s own Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, or being a part of the legendary celebrity community that draws you in, buying a home in Hollywood is no piece of cake. Beverly Hills is notorious for having a perennial perch on top of the market. With the average property value at $2 million, if you’re hunting for your dream home in Beverly Hills, expect the prices to be sky high.
We rolled up our sleeves, put our noses to the grindstone, and consulted top-ranked real estate expert James Suarez to cull the best insider tips about buying a house in Beverly Hills. It’s easy to get dazzled. We’re here to keep you from feeling frazzled, and to make sure you are fully prepared to navigate the neighborhoods and the posh Beverly Hills landscape! Ready to unlock the best kept secrets about the Beverly Hills housing market with this comprehensive guide? 3-2-1… Action!
Budgeting to buy a house in Beverly Hills
The renowned 90210 ZIP code has a median property value of $2 million as of 2018, which is actually nearly nine times greater than the national average of $229,700. “Beverly Hills is the epicenter of luxury — the shopping, the restaurants, the properties, the landscape, the architecture. You’re literally entering a dream when you enter Beverly Hills,” Suarez says.
Some of the most expensive properties in all of America reside in Beverly Hills. While deals can be found, it is important to note that in 2021 home prices are up 11.2% from the previous year, with homes on the market usually selling for just 1% below listing price. That being said, these ultra-luxury homes can end up selling for a substantial amount under the listing price. In August 2019, the “Mountain of Beverly Hills” property, a vast 157 acreage alighting the hills just a 10-minute jaunt from Rodeo Drive, sold for $100,000 when the asking price was originally $1 billion.
While there is a Hollywood-worthy story behind that plot of land, it isn’t a complete and total anomaly. In October 2019, the Bel Air Mansion sold for $94 million when it was originally listed at $250 million.
While you’re likely not looking for elevators lined with alligator skins or four-lane bowling alleys in your home, keep in mind that it is possible for over-the-top price tags to be substantially slashed. That being said, the Los Angeles Times reported in July 2020 that the cheapest home listing in Beverly Hills came in at $929,000 — for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house. In terms of mortgage payments, the U.S. Census reported that in the window between 2015 to 2019, the average monthly mortgage payments in Beverly Hills was $4,000.
Appreciate the appreciation
If you review the history of real estate in Beverly Hills, you’ll find that the value continually rises. When you buy a house in Beverly Hills, it’s important to remember that you’re also making an investment. As Suarez confirms, “It’s home first and an investment second.”
Suarez also says that there’s a reason why some of the wealthiest and smartest individuals in America have purchased homes in Beverly Hills.
“Beverly Hills is like a blue chip stock. It’s always going to hold value, and more often than not, it’s going to continue to go up.”
Beverly Hills real estate has appreciated 73.06% over the last 10 years. The national average for annual home appreciation is 3.8%, which means that, unsurprisingly, Beverly Hills is in the top 10% for real estate appreciation nationally.
When budgeting to buy a house in Beverly Hills, keep in mind the property tax. There is an effective property tax rate of effective property tax rate of 1.1% in Beverly Hills, which leads to an average of $25,215 each year. While California’s controversial Proposition 13 protects homeowners from large tax increases in the years after purchasing a home, for the new homeowner, the fair market value of the property will determine the amount of taxes. However, Proposition 13 limits the amount that the tax can increase thereafter.
Factor in extra home insurance
Having home insurance that covers loss from natural disasters is critical because homes in Beverly Hills face the risk of wildfires and earthquakes. While homeowners and renters insurance do cover fires, in Southern California, it is recommended to purchase additional fire coverage to recompense the cost of reconstruction, replacement, or repairs to your property above the limit set by your property insurance policy. California wildfires have been raging across the state in recent years, and in 2020 Forbes named Los Angeles as the No. 1 metropolitan area for wildfire risk in the U.S. While more rare, earthquakes do impact Beverly Hills homes. Beverly Hills is right on a fault line and is at risk for both minor and major earthquakes. Homeowners and renters insurance do not cover earthquake damage, so adding earthquake insurance is crucial.
The importance of inspections
While there certainly are futuristic, trendsetting new builds happening in Beverly Hills, there actually is a fair amount of older housing stock as well. These older homes, paired with the price tag of properties in this city, mean getting all homes inspections completed is a must. “For buyers looking to buy a home in Beverly Hills, always make sure to do inspections. If it’s an older home make sure to check the electrical and plumbing, then check for termites, mold, water damage, retrofitting — things that are required by code — and earthquake safety,” recommends Los Angeles real estate attorney Alex Mehdipour, the founder of Mehdipour Law, PC.
The option to rent
If renting is more the name of your game, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Beverly Hills was $2,950 as of December 2020. However, renting a single-family home has quite a different price point. In January 2021, the median rental price for a single-family home was $10,413. In the 90210, large apartment complexes are the single most common housing type, an estimated at 49.2% of the housing units in Beverly Hills. Studios are the least common type of rental units available. Lastly, you’re in luck! Beverly Hills is one of the select few LA cities with rent control.
Understanding the Beverly Hills housing market
Typically, Beverly Hills houses are on the market for around 52 to 56 days, but the market began a more competitive trend in 2020, as the inventory went down and interest rates moved to historic lows.
Things are really heating up! In March 2020, the day after an off-market opportunity for a Beverly Hills house became known, it garnered 18 offers in 24 hours, and ended up selling for $6.75 million after a long negotiation among multiple buyers.
“When it comes to buying a house in Beverly Hills, there is no seasonal pattern. The market is steady, and doesn’t really have any ups or downs,” confirms Mehdipour. “To make your bid competitive, sellers are looking for shorter contingency periods and larger deposits.”
Moreover, in March and April 2019, L.A. County recorded 85 residential sales of $5 million or more. In the same bracket in 2020, there were 82 home sales of $5 million or more, with 14 transitions over $10 million. The real estate market in Beverly Hills appears to be pandemic-proof.
In terms of making your offer attractive to sellers, Suarez says it’s important to put your best foot forward. “Make it as easy and simple for the seller. Make sure it’s as professional as possible. You want your offer to be the most attractive, which means price, terms, presentation, simplicity.”
Currently, there are 17,559 housing units in Beverly Hills. Surprisingly, only 3.8% of Beverly Hills homes have been built after 2000, and the city of Beverly Hills has reported that 60% of Beverly Hills’ housing is more than 50 years old. Keep in mind that renovation and vigilant upkeep is the norm, so the homes are exceptionally modern and well-kept. While the size of homes vary greatly in Beverly Hills, 52.4% are one- or two-bedroom homes, whereas only 23.9% are four- or five-bedroom homes.
While Los Angeles is enormous, Beverly Hills is a relatively small town with just 33,792 residents, as reported in the January 2019 census. In fact, many public universities have more students enrolled than Beverly Hills has residents.
As of January 2021, Beverly Hills has not officially finalized its updates to the residential zoning permits, which would allow for the construction of “accessory dwelling units,” also more simply called “granny units.” These are separate dwelling units, either attached or detached, that are located on the same land as the main house, and provide complete independent living facilities for one person or more. It is anticipated that soon the law will stimulate a boost in the production of second dwelling units to increase housing production and availability in Beverly Hills.
Mapping out Beverly Hills
When you buy a house in Beverly Hills, you don’t need to have a celebrity star map in hand — a neighborhood map will do just fine! Quite simply, Beverly Hills is divided into north and south by Santa Monica Boulevard. The northern region is the land of mega-mansions and superstars, whereas the southern area is more residential and family-centric.
Beverly Hills Flats
When you think of Beverly Hills, you’re thinking of The Flats with its iconic palm-tree lined streets, that actually span 70 feet across. The Flats resides between Santa Monica Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard and is brimming with jaw-droppingly stunning homes in a variety of architectural styles, from Spanish Revival to Georgian Estates. You’ll even spot a few French-styled chateaus! Ergo, a substantial amount of the Beverly Hills Mansions are located in The Flats. The housing stock is primarily composed of single-family luxury homes on large lots. As the name suggests, the land is flat and excellent for walkers and runners. It’s also home to the picturesque Beverly Gardens Park, which hosts the biannual Beverly Hills Art Show where more than 200 artists showcase their work.
Trousdale Estates is the northernmost arm of the city of Beverly Hills, covering a swatch of hillside, which affords it fantastic views of Beverly Hills and the larger city of Los Angeles itself. With carefully cultivated lush landscaping and greenery, Trousdale Estates gives a more relaxed and airy ambiance, and a hefty dose of privacy. The majority of the housing stock is modern and mid-century luxury homes, which are in high demand with celebrity A-listers and make Trousdale Estates the second-most-expensive neighborhood in Beverly Hills, with the median home price coming in at $8.5 million.
Beverly Hills Gateway
Beverly Hills Gateway is the most expensive neighborhood in the city, with the median home price of $10.5 million. Just north of the Flats, the Gateway slopes upward, as we move north into the Santa Monica Mountains. Home to ultra-elite restaurants, boutiques, and the famed Beverly Hills Hotel. It’s even where the Golden Globe Awards are hosted each year, at the Beverly Hilton. Expect to see a bevy of mansions and sprawling estates on the market here in the Gateway.
South of Santa Monica Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, and the Golden Triangle — the downtown scene brimming with opulent stores, starlets, and paparazzi — you’ll find the neighborhoods of Doheny Southwest and Doheny Southeast. These neighborhoods are laid out on a grid system and are meticulously landscaped. In fact, each block has its very own unique species of trees, such as Southern magnolia and queen palm, which are uniformly planted. Home prices are in the single-digit millions, and it’s a close-knit, quiet neighborhood that is predominantly filled with families. The proximity to all the glitz and glam of the Golden Triangle and Rodeo Drive, while still being slightly removed from the precise diameter of the spotlight, is a huge draw to the Doheny neighborhood. Plus, this neighborhood is home to top-notch boutiques and cafes, most notably the immensely charming local favorite Urth Caffé.
While there are many apartment complexes in Beverly Hills sprinkled south of Santa Monica Boulevard, the highest concentration of them is found in Beverly Grove. This neighborhood is east of Doheny, and is actually the eastern-most area of the city. It also borders West Hollywood to the north. Beverly Grove is a working-class neighborhood in which some of the most affordable housing can be found. Beverly Grove is also home to the busy and bustling Beverly Center, a high-end shopping center that is overflowing with luxury designer shops, as well as beloved tried-and-true department stores.
Partner with a top agent to find your dream home
With eternal sunshine and luxurious living, Beverly Hills is a veritable dreamland. With some of the most expensive real estate in the nation, it’s important to have a top buyer’s agent at your side to help you navigate the ins and outs of the star-studded market. As Suarez says, “Every day is the right time to buy a house in Beverly Hills, if you’re shopping for one.”
When looking to buy a house in Beverly Hills, it’s easy to get sticker shock. Yet top buyer’s agents in Beverly Hills help home buyers save an average $588,955 on a home. You read that right, that’s a savings of over half a million dollars! Plus, on average, the top buyers’ agents place 1.8 times the number of transactions as other agents in Beverly Hills.
In a city that is all about connections, a savvy top real estate agent is precisely who you need to have as your right-hand man — or woman! — to make your California dream a reality.
Header Image Source: (John Fornander / Unsplash)