One Year Later: How COVID-19 Began to Fuel Manhattan Beach Real Estate

By Dave Fratello | May 25th, 2021

The initial COVID-19 shutdowns in early 2020 froze local real estate, as well as much other regular business.

But it was right around this time last year that things began to change.

(This first photo is of the initial moments that The Strand was re-opened a year ago.)

We looked back at MB Confidential blog posts to pull out some highlights of the changes in the market that began just before and after Memorial Day 2020:

"28 Listings Come to Market in 7 Days"

* Sellers began listing again by late May 2020.

This post, from May 23, 2020, began:

"More and more sellers are sensing that 'the water's fine' and are jumping in."

Per that post, there were 28 listings added to the market in 7 days, and nearly 3 dozen listings less than 2 weeks old.

Notably, 6 of the listings added to the crop of actives were switched over from a "hold" status. In other words, they were active listings at one point, but had been put "on ice" in the "hold" status, waiting for brighter days.

Those brighter days turned out to be late May 2020.

"MB Market Update for 5/31/20"

* New purchase contracts normalized in mid-late May 2020.

In this update, we wrote:

"We have just finished the first 'normal' 2-week period in local real estate in a while, with an average or above-average number of new escrows... [T]he market was as busy or busier than comparable periods in 4 of the prior 5 years."

Some other observations as the weeks went by:

* Higher-priced listings were driving the initial recovery. Early in May, we noted that "73% of homes in escrow were listed above the current median price."

"Above $3.5M last year (2019), we found 'just' 16% of the active deals. This year (2020), it's 34%, basically a doubling."

     - from "Pending Sales in Manhattan Beach Skew Pricier," May 12, 2020

* Quickly, middle- and lower-priced listings were making deals in larger numbers.

By late May, we noted a quick transition from 73% of listings being over the median price to "just 53% of homes in escrow above $2.500M."

     - "Lower End Deals Adding Action in Market," May 27, 2020

* Supply/demand balance was achieved in early June.

"Over one week, we saw 14 new listings, and an equal number going into escrow. That's as clear of a signal as you could want to say the 'Spring' market is under way, shifting into Summer..."

"It seems easy to expect a busy Summer now. We'll then see if it rolls all the way through Fall."

[Narrator: It did roll all the way through Fall. And beyond.]

    - from "Inventory & Pace of Deals Recovering in Manhattan Beach," June 6, 2020 (post has a 5-minute video, also)

* The market was "off to the races" by mid-June.

"The Manhattan Beach real estate market has turned around, dramatically by some measures. The past two weeks (June 1-15) saw 30 new escrows, double the number for the same period in 2019, and the highest of the past 8 years."

     - from "Manhattan Beach Market Update for 6/15/20"

* By June's end, the sales pace was rocketing, setting up the rest of the year's incredible results.

"2020's 55 new deals in June blasts away the anemic 30 new escrows in June 2019, and handily tops hot-hot-hot 2017's total of 40 for June as well... After several weeks of shutdown, we're cramming the whole Spring market into a brief period of time."

     - from "Manhattan Beach Market Update for 6/30/20"


The calendar year 2020 ended with 10% more total home sales than 2019 in Manhattan Beach, and with the median price up 10% over 2019.

See our year-end 2020 MB Market Update here for more details.

That's certainly not the end of the story of how the COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly drove our local real estate market to new heights.

But this is how it all began.

Please see our blog disclaimer.

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