In the next few weeks, Metro should be announcing that its pre-revenue testing of the now complete Expo line will end, and that general service will begin. This means for a lot of Los Angeles-area residents that commuting will be much less of a headache.
The new service will allow riders to get from 3rd Street in Santa Monica to Downtown in 46 minutes. Along the existing portion of the line, from Downtown to Culver City, neighborhoods surrounding the train line saw rapid and significant gentrification.
This was especially pronounced in areas surrounding new train stations.
However, the new section of the line, from Culver City to Santa Monica has not had a similar effect. This section goes through already high priced parts of West LA and Santa Monica, where homes start around $1 million.
Over the last 12 months, price per-square-foot for homes and condos within walking distance of the line went up 7.9 percent over the previous year period, while homes and condos in the areas to the north and south appreciated just more than 10 percent.
There could be many reasons why these areas are not appreciating faster in light of the new public transportation options, such as wealthier areas where homeowners primarily get around with their car.
It is also possible this is just an anomaly with the data, but the line is very clear. There has not been an upward rise in prices in West LA and Santa Monica.
Here’s the bottom line: nicer neighborhoods just don’t place a price premium on access to public transportation yet– even though some buyers do. Lower income neighborhoods along the line have started a massive gentrification process that has spilled out past the walking distance of its stations.
Even though West LA doesn’t appear to be pricing in the Expo, expect extremely strong growth in the areas around the existing line. These owners and tenants are among the 50,000+ daytime commuters to Santa Monica. Even better news for those owners – a future extension along Crenshaw Blvd. will have the same impact.
Richard Schulman is one of Keller Williams Realty’s top producing agents in Los Angeles, working with buyers and sellers, distressed properties, land and investment properties.