More million-dollar homes were sold in California last year than in the two previous years combined, according to DataQuick Information Systems, a real estate information service.

 

A total of 33,107 homes in California sold for $1 million or more last year. That was up 73.5 percent from 19,080 in 2003. The total in 2002 was 13,871.

 

Last year’s surge was strongest during the second quarter when year-over-year sales were up 109.3 percent. During the year’s final quarter, sales were up 61 percent, the company reported.

 

“A million dollars just isn’t what it used to be when it comes to California real estate. Because of appreciation across the board, more homes are in the million-dollar category than was the case earlier. We don’t expect home prices to go up as much this year as in 2004, so we anticipate that sales counts will level off,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

 

Million-dollar sales accounted for 5 percent of all California home purchases in 2004. In 2003 it was 3 percent, and in 2002 it was 2.3 percent.

 

Statewide, there were 221 sales for more than $5 million last year, 237 sales were in the $4-$5 million range, 690 in the $3 million range, 2,894 sales in the $2 million range, and the rest between $1 million and $2 million.

 

DataQuick, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

 

The DataQuick 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, teardowns, and large farm or ranch properties. Home sales to companies were included, as were sales to trusts.

 

The most expensive confirmed purchase was a 10,900 square-foot five-bedroom, four-bathroom San Francisco house which went for $22.5 million in December. The largest was an eight-bedroom, 10-bathroom 35,735 square-foot house on 2.3 acres in Beverly Hills that sold for $13 million in October.

 

Ross in Marin County and Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County were communities where virtually all home sales were in the million-dollar category, the company reported.

 

Newly-built homes accounted for 5,210 of last year’s sales, up 141.8 percent from 2,155 for 2003. San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties were the most active markets for newly-built homes, DataQuick also reported.

 

There were 1,677 condo sales in the million-dollar category, up 90.8 percent from 879 a year ago. Most were sold in West Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

 

The median-sized million-dollar home was 2,644 square feet, with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The median price per square-foot for all million-dollar homes was $489, up 5.4 percent from $464 a year ago, DataQuick reported.

 

Around 15 percent of the buyers paid cash, up from 12 percent in 2003. Of those who financed their purchase, the median down payment was 25 percent of the purchase price. Lending institutions most willing to provide mortgage financing were Washington Mutual, Countrywide Home Loans and Wells Fargo.

 

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