MDA DataQuick: California Million-Dollar Home Sales Drop Again

by 08 Feb 2010


La Jolla, CA.---- The number of California homes that sold for $1 million-plus declined for the fourth consecutive year in 2009, the result of buyer reticence, a difficult mortgage market and several years of price drops that tugged the value of many homes below the million-dollar threshold, a real estate information service reported.
     A total of 18,621 Golden State homes sold for a million dollars or more last year. That was down 23.8 percent from 24,436 in 2008. In 2007 it was 42,506; in 2006 it was 50,010; and in 2005 it peaked at 54,773. Last year was the lowest sales count since 2002, when 15,703 were sold, according to San Diego-based MDA DataQuick .
     Total California home sales – including all price levels -increased 16.9 percent last year, to 460,166 from 393,703 in 2008. One in 25 homes sold for a million dollars or more last year, while the year before it was one in 16, and in 2006 it was one in nine.
     “Prestige home sales are a unique sub-category of the real estate market. The buyers and sellers respond to a different set of motivations. In the multi-million-dollar price ranges, decisions are largely discretionary and aren’t as dependent upon jobs, prices and interest rates the way they are for most buyers and sellers,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.
     “Traditional million-dollar markets are holding up relatively well, while expensive markets that emerged four or five years ago are not,” he said.
     Million-dollar home sales in Riverside County dropped 48.6 percent last year, while they dropped 13.3 percent in Los Angeles County.
     Statewide, there were 332 sales for more than $5 million last year, 228 sales were in the $4-$5 million range, 590 in the $3 million range, 1,902 sales in the $2 million range, and the rest – 83 percent - between $1 million and $2 million.
     About 1,900 of the homes that sold statewide last year for less than $1 million had previously sold for $1 million or more. The median date of the prior sale was April 2006; the median price decline between the 2009 sale and the previously $1 million-plus sale was about $420,000. The median percentage decline was about 35 percent.
     MDA DataQuick is a division of MDA Lending Solutions, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. MDA DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.
     The numbers 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.
     The most expensive confirmed purchase last year was a 22,721-square-foot, 9-bedroom, 10-bathroom Bel Air house built in 2008 which went for $26,500,000 in July. It was also the largest million-dollar home sold last year.
     The communities where virtually all home sales were in the million-dollar category were Portola Valley and Atherton in San Mateo County, Newport Beach in Orange County, Ross in Marin County and Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County.
     Newly-built homes accounted for 1,457 of last year’s $1 million-plus sales, down 50.3 percent from 2,933 for 2008. There were 1,542 condo sales in the million-dollar category, down 34.7 percent from 2,362 the year before. Most $1 million-plus condos were sold in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
     The median-sized million-dollar home was 2,646 sq.ft., with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. The median price paid per square foot for all million-dollar homes was $605, down 10.1 percent from a revised $672 in 2008. For the overall market, the square-foot median declined 20.7 percent from $188 in 2008 to $149 last year, DataQuick reported.
     Last year 4,925 Notices of Default, the first step of the formal foreclosure process, were recorded on homes that previously had sold for a million dollars or more. The number of Trustees Deeds, or the actual loss of a home to the foreclosure process, totaled 2,698 for those homes that previously sold for $1 million-plus.
     Around 29 percent of the $1 million-plus buyers paid cash, up from 24 percent in 2008. In the over-$5 million category, two thirds of the purchases were cash. Of those who did finance their purchase, the median down payment was 39.4 percent of the purchase price. The lending institutions most willing to provide mortgage financing for $1 million-plus homes were Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Union Bank.
     There are 8.52 million homes in California. Of those, 241,456 are assessed for more than a million dollars by county assessor offices, down 5.2 percent from 254,745 in 2008, DataQuick reported.
Ranked by 2009 $1 million-plus sales#
Zip      Community                   2008     2009     2009’s Most
                                   Sales#   Sales#       Expensive
90266     Manhattan Beach             296      260     $11.65 mill.
92037     La Jolla                    246      259     $18.15 mill.
90049     Brentwood                   219      254     $14.85 mill.
94025     Menlo Park                  258      252      $4.25 mill.
95014     Cupertino                   263      215      $3.13 mill.
94024     Los Altos                   204      211      $4.30 mill.
95070     Saratoga                    260      206      $4.59 mill.
92651     Laguna Beach                173      203     $13.73 mill.
90272     Pacific Palisades           214      193     $17.55 mill.
90210     Beverly Hills               192      190     $19.90 mill.
90274     Rolling Hills Estates       152      187      $6.40 mill.
92130     Del Mar                     247      179      $3.30 mill.
94022     Los Altos                   157      174      $9.95 mill.
92660     Newport Beach               158      166      $9.50 mill.
94506     Danville                    213      151      $3.40 mill.
94306     Palo Alto                   134      145      $2.70 mill.
94539     Fremont                     160      145      $3.10 mill.
91011     La Canada Flintridge        110      143      $4.80 mill.
95032     Los Gatos                   156      142      $4.25 mill.
91108     San Marino                  110      141      $4.55 mill.
92657     Newport Beach               120      141      $9.41 mill.
90275     Rancho Palos Verdes         181      140      $5.75 mill.
94303     Palo Alto                   122      137      $4.05 mill.
93108     Santa Barbara               175      133     $11.66 mill.
Source: MDA DataQuick,



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