It's not because of last night's brush fire, but a year-long slide in prices and home sales. The median price of an existing home in the 90265 Zip code fell almost 15 percent in 2006 (itís still at $1.1 million), and home sales dropped 45 percent (846 from 1,545). Keep in mind that many of Socal's high-priced areas took it on the chin last year while lower-priced neighborhoods did much better. That's what often happens at the end of a real estate cycle. To give you an idea, home sales in Inglewood shot up 55 percent in 2006 and prices increased 15 percent Ė all these numbers from the Business Journal (subscription required). As for the fire, it's another reminder that once in Malibu, always in Malibu. I mean, if the disastrous Old Topanga blaze in 1993 didn't result in any mass exodus, nothing will. Actually, there was a mini-economic boom after that fire because of all the houses that had to be rebuilt. By mid-1995 the City of Malibu had approved reconstruction of 225 out of 268 houses lost. Perverse as it may seem, disasters often serve as economic infusions.
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