West of California’s San Fernando Valley lies Calabasas, a quiet suburb with rolling hills and beautiful mountain views. Hold on. Calabasas? Isn’t that where the Kardashians live? It’s true this city is known for its wealthy residents and spacious homes in gated communities, but Calabasas isn’t just for the rich and famous.
Calabasas is a family-friendly city of close to 25,000 residents. With nearly 300 days of sunshine each year, the beautiful weather is just one of the factors that makes this city so desirable. Even though your life will feel like a constant vacation here, Calabasas is conveniently located just 30 minutes from downtown Los Angeles and a few minutes from the beach if you need a quick getaway. There’s an excellent school district, and activities for all ages and interests right at your fingertips — whether you prefer spending the afternoon in the great outdoors or in a trendy coffee shop. Plus, there’s a close-knit community to bring it all together.
Calabasas also has a competitive housing market. We talked to a real estate expert and sifted through pages of documents to help you find the right buyer’s agent, teach you how to navigate the homebuying process here, and prepare you for what to expect when you buy a house in Calabasas so there are no surprises along the way.
Let’s get started!
What is your Calabasas budget?
According to Lydia Gable, founder of Lydia Gable Realty Group-Compass Real Estate, Calabasas has a wide range of homes and prices for every buyer.
“You [have] movie stars and sports stars buying 20- to 30-million-dollar homes, and then you have renters. An entry-level condo of $500,000 is hard to find as a starter, but you have to be patient.”
Calabasas is traditionally a very competitive market, but as of early 2021, historically low mortgage rates and low inventory have made it even more so. This means that you may have to be steadfast with your home search in Calabasas. But before you begin, it’s important to know what you can afford, and consider additional costs.
Average home price
There’s no question that Calabasas is pricey. As of February 2021, the median listing price in Calabasas is $926,800 — 126% higher than the California average. The median household income here is $125,814. But don’t fret, you can find property here even if you’re working with a smaller budget.
Property taxes in Calabasas are also important to take into account when determining your budget for purchasing a home. Luckily, property taxes in Calabasas are not as much as you would think. At 0.72% of assessed home value, property taxes here are slightly lower than the statewide average of 0.73%, and lower than the national average of 1.07%. This means the owner of a home valued at $500,000 in Calabasas will be looking at $3,600 in taxes annually.
Homeowners associations are popular in Calabasas, so you’ll likely need to factor HOA fees into your monthly budget. HOA fees can differ significantly so, depending on the neighborhood you choose, you might be looking at anywhere from $300 per month to more than $900 per month in fees. For example, the average HOA fees in the Calabasas Village community are $973.
When buying a house in Calabasas you’ll also need to budget for home insurance, which can range from about $49 to $68 a month in this area. Additionally, you should consider getting fire insurance, since wildfires pose an increasing threat. In 2017, the average annual premium in California was $507 for fire insurance, but rates have been rising in recent years.
What’s housing like in Calabasas?
Perhaps you’ve gotten a glimpse of Calabasas by watching “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” You want to live here, but you’re not quite able to afford a mansion either — or, perhaps a mansion is just not your style, even if you can afford it.
“There are lots of neighborhoods [in Calabasas] filled with custom homes, stack homes, ranch estates, lake homes, and gated communities,” Gable tells us. She adds that a lot of these homes are in the Mediterranean style. There are not a lot of historic homes; unless, of course, you count The Leonis Adobe from 1844, one of the oldest structures in greater Los Angeles.
Although Calabasas has some newer homes, many were built in the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, fewer than 10% of homes were built in 2000 or after, with the majority of homes being built between 1970 and 1999. This means that maybe the roof or chimney needs to be upgraded, or there are other things that need to be attended to, so it’s important to get a home inspection to identify any potential issues.
As of early 2021, many buyers are looking for move-in ready homes, which generally sell for a premium and fly off the market. These homes often feature a pool or pool access, balconies, backyards, patios, entertainment areas, and nice views, and are accessible to shopping, dining, and nature. But that comes at a price, and will generally cost you close to $1 million, if not more. You may have more luck finding a fixer-upper, especially if you’re willing to forgo some of these common amenities. However, in such a competitive market, these homes also can move quickly because they are more affordable.
Because of the competitiveness of the market, Gable recommends that you get all your ducks in a row if you want to buy a house in Calabasas. That means determining your budget (and your wiggle room), your list of needs and wants, and securing pre-approval for a loan so when you find the home you like — even if it’s 90% close to what you want — you can be ready to make an offer. Then, you can customize the home to your liking.
The lay of the land in Calabasas
Surrounded by the Santa Monica Mountains, Calabasas is a picturesque city located just outside of the valley. It’s driving distance to LAX airport and close to many beaches, including just 20 minutes from Malibu.
Calabasas is home to great public schools within the award-winning Las Virgenes Unified School District, as well as many private schools. You can also enjoy community classes and recreational activities and an abundance of green spaces, with many hiking and walking trails and parks.
“Calabasas is a quiet and safe community with a small, walkable downtown area,” says Ginger Salas, a longtime Calabasas resident who moved abroad in 2019.
Neighborhoods in Calabasas
Let’s break things down further and take a look at a few of the more well-known neighborhoods in Calabasas:
This is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods not just in Calabasas or California, but in the country. It’s an educated neighborhood with high-earning families. Although many people commute to work by car from here, this neighborhood is ideal for buyers who want to be able to walk to entertainment. One of the main draws of this area is The Commons at Calabasas. Here, there are plenty of local shops, cafes, restaurants, amidst beautiful landscaping and an open-air layout. The median real estate price in City Center is $1,715,607.
What makes Brents Junction unique is the exclusive and trendy rowhomes here, which are hard to get in other Calabasas neighborhoods. You’ll also find smaller single-family homes and apartment complexes here. Brents Junction is ideal for buyers who want the conveniences of a suburb while still being close to nature. For instance, the neighborhood is close to the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail and Palo Comado Canyon. But, there’s a good mix here of both buyers and renters. The median real estate price in Brents Junction is $1,209,284.
Calabasas Highlands is in the eastern section of Calabasas and is known for its large homes and extraordinary views. Calabasas Highlands sits right at the edge of Calabasas Peak State Park, and you can hit the trails right from your neighborhood. The median real estate price here is $1,041,317.
Malibu Junction/Cornell sits east of Agoura Hills, and many residents will have the best of Agoura and Calabasas, with plenty to do right off of the 101, from grocery shopping and restaurants, to cafes and gyms. All the things you’d want out of a suburb. This neighborhood features a mix of single-family homes and apartment complexes, and is a popular place for retirees due to the accessibility to stores, hiking, the highway, as well as other people the same age! This is an upper-middle class neighborhood and one of the more affordable sections of Calabasas. But, homes here will still cost a pretty penny with a median real estate price of $1,023,274.
When to buy a house in Calabasas
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of where to buy a house in Calabasas, when should you begin looking?
If you’re looking for the best price, the best time to buy a house in Calabasas is traditionally in January. You’ll be competing against fewer buyers, so sellers will often be more motivated.
Ultimately, the best time to buy is when it works for you, so families should consider their own personal situation, timeline, and needs when they reach out to an agent and begin their search.
Keep in mind that COVID-19 has changed things; November and December 2020 were “red hot” according to the Los Angeles Times, even though the winter traditionally tends to be slower for real estate. However, the nature of the competitive market has led to low inventory. But, if you’re prepared as Gable recommends, you’ll be able to move ahead quickly no matter the season.
Find a top buyer’s agent in Calabasas
The first step to buy a house in Calabasas is to find a top buyer’s agent. Working with an agent can help you get a key into a competitive market like Calabasas. It’s important to work with someone who knows the area and the market and can help you successfully navigate the homebuying process, from finding the right home to helping you present a strong offer without going out of your budget. They can save you money, too. In fact, top buyer’s agents in Calabasas save clients $197,015 on their home, compared with average agents.
Gable advises buyers to take time to interview potential agents to learn about their experience, make sure the agent has the buyer’s best interest at heart, and ensure it’s a good personality fit. Ultimately, you need to find the best match for you.
What are you waiting for? Let’s start your search to buy a house in Calabasas.
Header Image Source: (Utsav Shah / Unsplash)