Cindyana Santangelo’s 5,000-square-feet, 5-bedroom, 5.5-bathroom Malibu home is being leased for $55,000 a month. She’s pictured here in the master bedroom. - Los Angeles Times

Hot summer beachfronts

MALIBU, Calif. — For summer lease: Four-bedroom, eight-bathroom bluff-side Malibu house. Price — $150,000 a month.

That's a jaw dropper, even for Malibu. The property's rental price is a local record high, according to the Multiple Listing Service, but it's just the pinnacle in a summer rental market that seems to have no high-water mark. Even mundane beachfront houses are renting for as much as $70,000 a month, and they're still expected to be snapped up by mid-April.

Real estate is wilting just about everywhere else. But Malibu in the summer isn't like everywhere else.

The housing market's troubles haven't touched homes valued at $10 million or above — which pretty much defines the Malibu beachfront, according to John Karovell of DataQuick Information Systems, a real estate research company. And rents reflect that.

A big chunk of the summer crowd is from the entertainment industry, and hobnobbing never comes cheap. Plenty of deals are made at the beach — and if you aren't there, someone else will be. And of course, there's also the opportunity to bump into Pamela Anderson buying organic carrot juice at Ralphs or to sip a latte next to Pierce Brosnan at Starbucks.

Finally, corporate money is pumping up Malibu prices as companies with products to sell use summer rentals to host celebrity-studded bashes — chock-full of product placements that wind up in magazine and online photos. The "party houses" might find themselves on a tighter leash this summer, though, as the Malibu City Council takes steps to curtail noise and traffic complaints.

Still, the prices are head-spinners.

Chris Cortazzo, listing agent for Malibu's new top seed — all 11,000-plus square feet of it — touts the property's completely private location (Realtorspeak for paparazzi-proof). The Mediterranean-style home has direct beach access via steps down a cliff and interior furnishings described alternately as "tons of marble and fancy chandeliers" or "on the gaudy side."

That last description from a competing listing agent. Leasing requires a two-month minimum and a $300,000 security deposit.

Not far behind in price is a $135,000-a-month architectural four-bedroom house plus a detached studio with a pool and spa on the beach, listed by Coldwell Banker Previews agent Susan Monus. Gorgeous as it may be, tire-kickers might not like that the property is on a through street. Still, there are few better addresses than this — you've got Adam Sandler and Jeremy Piven up the street, Brian Grazer and Mel Brooks around the corner. And it's quite close to where Paris Hilton rented last summer.

The official realty line is that those who don't secure a lease by mid-April are likely to lose out on the primo beach neighborhoods, and there seem to be plenty of people ready to pony up more than what average Joes earn in a year for a month of lounging along the gilded coast.

It's the same story on the East Coast, where a house on Long Island's Southhampton Village is listed at $450,000 for the month of August.

"The choice Hamptons properties get rented early," said Silke Oellrich of Prudential Douglas Elliman. "People started coming to look for summer homes in November."

Of Monus' three summer beach listings, one listed at $100,000 a month already has been scarfed up, and she expects the remaining two — the aforementioned listing at $135,000 a month and another at $80,000 a month — to go shortly. A count of top agents' Web sites found at least 11 summer listings for $75,000 or more a month, and there are more that are discreetly held by agents, who don't post them on Web sites or the MLS.

"Malibu is the Riviera of the United States," Monus said, shrugging off the prices.

(Begin optional trim)

And she might be right. Even Newport Beach and Laguna Beach top out at about $60,000 a month.

Is it really that incredible to summer in the 'bu? Apparently so.

(End optional trim)

In the words of actor and Malibu renter Daniel Baldwin, "Malibu in the summer is where the United States ends and life begins."

Baldwin is leasing a furnished apartment through Coldwell Banker agent Scotty Brown, who lists 10 units in the complex for the summer that rent for a relatively modest $10,000 to $30,000 a month.

Sharon Clayton, a 44-year-old banker, keeps homes in London, Bahrain and Tampa, Fla. She rents the same "small" Malibu house each summer to entertain business associates. Last year, she paid $85,000 for a three-month rental.

"We have visitors of all ages at our parties in the summer — from the single digits to close to the triple digits," she said in an e-mail, "and we all enjoy dancing together in the summer!"

Michael Gardner, a Malibu agent with Prudential who likes to track such transactions, predicts that the demand this summer will surpass that of any previous year. "By May," he said, "all the good listings may very well be gone." Previous years saw four homes break the $100,000-per-month mark, with one topping out at $120,000, Gardner said.

"Recession? What recession?" he asked.

Most of the summer rentals are second homes and remain vacant or scarcely used during the winter months. But come summer, people want to be at the beach. Monus said summer renters have come from Europe and other states, but most just live in Los Angeles' wealthier neighborhoods.

Brown of Coldwell Banker was a bit blunter. Who rents these places? Anybody who can afford it, he said, and most likely those "anybodies" are somebodies from the entertainment world.

(Begin optional trim)

Even some celebrity owners are joining the beach party.

Cindyana Santangelo, who has appeared in "CSI: Miami," "ER" and "Law & Order," is offering her home for $55,000 for the month of August. Regis Philbin and his wife, Joy, are among those she said are interested.

Coldwell Banker listing agent Madison Hildebrand said that because of the location, the home is likely to get snapped up quickly. The 3,460-square-foot house has 50 feet of beachfront, and if you don't mind some sand in your Christian Louboutins, you can walk to two popular beach haunts. The five-bedroom house comes decorated with custom-made furniture, including a white leather sleigh bed in the white-on-white master suite.

If that doesn't suit, Ozzie and Sharon Osbourne have listed their beach home at $85,000 a month with a two-month minimum. The house had been listed for sale but then offered on a $37,500 monthly lease — off-season.

(End optional trim)

"You want to know what Malibu in the summer is like?" Baldwin asked. "I start my day with coffee at Starbucks up at Trancas, then take Katie — my boxer rescue — for a walk along the beach. ... It's a marvelous place."

Share This Story