California 2012 Million-Dollar Home Sales Highest in Five Years

California 2012 Million-Dollar Home Sales Highest in Five Years

January 30, 2013

The number of Golden State homes sold for a million dollars or more rose to its highest level since 2007, fueled by a recovering economy, rising home prices and a record number of cash purchases. The number of homes sold for more than $5 million rose to an all-time high, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 26,993 homes sold for $1 million-plus last year, up 26.9 percent from 21,267 in 2011. It was the most sold since 42,502 homes crossed the million-dollar threshold in 2007, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

The all-time high was 2005, when 54,773 homes sold for a million dollars or more. Last year's 26.9 percent year-over-year sales gain outpaced the state's market as a whole: Overall sales totaled 447,573, up 8.2 percent from 413,479 in 2011.

"It should go without saying that buyers and sellers in the prestige market tend to respond to different motivations and incentives than the rest of the market. Job security, down payment sizes and mortgage interest rates don't play the same role. Returns on investments in a low interest-rate financial environment and safe-haven investing do play a role," said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

The sales distribution of luxury homes has shifted during the past two years, with record sales at the very high end. Statewide, 697 homes sold for more than $5 million last year, an all-time high and well above the previous high of 491 in 2011. In the $4-$5 million range a record 460 homes sold, well above 344 in 2011 (and 342 in 2005). In the $3-$4 million range, 1,104 homes sold, slightly ahead of 1,046 in 2005.

Sales totaled 3,266 in the $2-$3 million range, well behind 2005 when 4,070 sold (and behind 2006 and 2007 as well). In the $1-$2 million range, 17,762 sold last year, around half of the 34,145 sold in 2005.

DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

The million-dollar transactions include home sales where it could be determined from public records that there was a buyer, a seller, that money changed hands, and that there was a legal transfer of property ownership. Not included were property swaps, sales of multiple lots, sales where no price or loan amount was available, teardowns, and large farm or ranch properties. Sales to companies and trusts were included.

Last year 7,791 of the million-dollar home buyers paid cash, a record number, up from 5,802 in 2011. Cash was used more frequently the higher up the price scale. Of those who did finance their purchase last year, the median down payment was 25.9 percent of the purchase price. The lending institutions most willing to provide mortgage financing for $1 million-plus homes were Wells Fargo, Union Bank and First Republic Bank.

The most expensive confirmed purchase last year was an 8,930-square-foot, 4-bedroom, 4 1/2-bathroom home in Woodside built in 2005 on just under nine acres which sold for $117,500,000 in November. The largest was a 20,248 sq.ft. 7-bedroom, 13-bathroom mansion in Bel Air.

Virtually all home sales in some communities were in the $1 million-plus category. Among them were the following: Ross in Marin County; San Marino and Santa Monica in Los Angeles County; Los Altos in Santa Clara County; Atherton and Hillsborough in San Mateo County; and Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County.

Newly-built homes accounted for 4.9 percent of last year's $1 million-plus sales, down from 5.9 percent in 2011. Condo sales made up 9.2 percent of the million-dollar category last year, down slightly from 8.0 percent the year before. Most $1 million-plus condos were sold in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego counties.

The median-sized home that sold for $1 million-plus was 2,641 sq.ft. with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. The median price paid per square foot for all million-dollar homes in 2012 was $641, up 5.5 percent from $607 in 2011. For the overall California market, the square-foot median was $162 last year, up 12.5 percent from $144 in 2011, DataQuick reported.

There are 8.66 million houses and condos in California. Of those, 246,318, or 2.8 percent, are assessed for $1 million or more by county assessor offices, DataQuick reported.


Million Dollar Home Sales, ranked by 2012 sales #s

 2011  2012   2012's Most
Zip Community Sales#   Sales#         Expensive
94010    Hillsborough                  353       422          $6.8 mill.
90266    Manhattan Beach               328       372         $10.5 mill.
94025    Menlo Park                    305       370          $7.6 mill.
95070    Saratoga                      264       364          $6.8 mill.
92660    Newport Beach                 249       362         $10.0 mill.
92037    La Jolla                      253       345         $15.0 mill.
90049    Brentwood                     255       344         $18.0 mill.
90210    Beverly Hills                 249       330         $34.5 mill.
94024    Los Altos                     262       311          $6.0 mill.
92651    Laguna Beach                  195       307         $20.0 mill.
90272    Pacific Palisades             259       303         $15.0 mill.
95014    Cupertino                     257       297          $2.8 mill.
90274    Rolling Hills Estates         210       262          $7.0 mill.
92625    Corona Del Mar                183       256         $15.0 mill.
94022    Los Altos                     217       255         $14.1 mill.
94539    Fremont                       168       240         $5.4 mill.
92657    Newport Beach                 163       228         $16.5 mill.
92130    Del Mar                       189       225         $7.5 mill.
90265    Malibu                        173       219         $21.0 mill.
94306    Palo Alto                     193       218          $4.3 mill.
94941    Mill Valley                   150       215          $4.0 mill.
94114    San Francisco                 175       213          $4.1 mill.
95032    Los Gatos                     171       213          $5.5 mill.
94062    Woodside                      189       208          $8.3 mill.
90275    Rancho Palos Verdes           179       205          $5.5 mill.

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