“The Valley” once known as the red-headed stepchild of posh Los Angeles neighborhoods, a place where people moved if they couldn’t afford to live in the TMZ (short for “Thirty-Mile Zone,” in reference to the historic “studio zone” within a 30-mile radius in Los Angeles, California), has taken a turn to become the “it” place to buy and live now. Can’t believe it? Just look at the number of top-producing agents now coming out of the San Fernando Valley.

Los Angeles has always been a hotbed for the real estate industry with agents vying for the same properties in the same luxury neighborhoods like Hollywood Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Malibu. While the industry hasn’t slowed down in these areas, turf wars have now spread to areas like Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Toluca Lake and Sherman Oaks; and as the competition gets more fierce, buyers are now seeing once affordable areas of greater Los Angeles skyrocket in price.

These battles reflect the growing strength of the market. Last year, there were 1,765 property sales in the Valley for over $5 million, up 54% from a decade ago, according to Zillow, a real estate website. It also found the median price for a single-family home in the Valley hit $673,000 last year, above its pre-crash peak of $627,000, in 2007.

The market is so hot in the Valley right now that agencies like Pacific Union International in sister cities like San Francisco are broadening their scope to get in on the action. Pacific Union International acquired three Los Angeles brokerages within the past two years, giving it an entree into the market and branches in three Valley neighborhoods. The company plans to open two offices in the Valley, one in Burbank this year and possibly another in Hidden Hills or Calabasas, says Nick Segal, President of Pacific Union International, Southern California.

Even brokerages like Hilton and Hyland based in Beverly Hills, mostly known for luxury markets, have a hand in the new game. Last year, they transacted $156 million worth of sales in the Valley. Five years ago, it hardly did any business in the area, said estates director Donovan Healey, who specializes in the Valley and moved to Hilton & Hyland from another brokerage in September.

The Agency, a luxury brokerage based in Beverly Hills, an offshoot of Hilton and Hyland started by Chief Executive Mauricio Umansky, who worked for his brother-in-law Rick Hilton at Hilton & Hyland, has also opened offices in Sherman Oaks and Calabasas within the past 14 months. Umansky, who is deeply integrated in Beverly Hills life partly due to his wife who is a cast member of The Housewives of Beverly Hills even bought and moved his family to an $8.5 million house in Encino in the Valley.

Even though most of the San Fernando Valley lies within the city of Los Angeles, Angelenos still refer to it as “the Valley” and to the rest of Los Angeles as “the city.” It is physically separated from the Los Angeles basin to the South by the Santa Monica Mountains, easily accessed by freeways or canyon roads.

And being the entertainment-driven city that we are, Hollywood also has its hand in the changing attitudes toward the Valley. As more Hollywood types, who made neighborhoods like Beverly Hills and Bel-Air the sought after areas for trend following buyers, are now being outbid by financial whales like technology executives, foreign buyers and cash investors and having to find new areas to settle, they’re heading out of the TMZ with their fans and followers in hot pursuit.

So the Valley, once known for its reputation of being the suburbs with good schools, engulfed by strip malls and chain restaurants, now seems to be trending.

Call Now Button