Sales of million-dollar homes in California eased back a notch during the third quarter, the result of a cyclical shift in market mix, real estate information service DataQuick reported today.

A total of 8,985 homes sold for $1 million or more during the July-to-September period, down 11.4 percent from 10,145 for the second quarter, and up 53.4 percent from 5,266 for the same period a year ago. The second-quarter sales count was the highest ever. Last quarter was the second highest.

Statewide, there were 41 sales for more than $5 million last quarter, 61 sales were in the $4-$5 million range, 191 in the $3 million range, 807 sales in the $2 million range, and the rest between $1 million and $2 million.

The most expensive confirmed purchase was a Newport Coast house, which sold for $9.5 million in September. The largest was a 6-bedroom, 9-bathroom, 13,949-square-foot house in Westlake Village, which sold for $4.3 million in August.

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, according to DataQuick.

Newly-built homes accounted for 1,049 of the sales during the third quarter, down 18 percent from 1,280 for the second quarter, and up 76.3 percent from 595 during the same quarter a year ago. Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles counties were the most active million-dollar newly-built home markets.

There were 419 condo sales in the million-dollar category. That was down 25.2 percent from 560 for the previous quarter and up 56.9 percent from 267 for third-quarter 2003. Most million-dollar condos were sold in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

The median million-dollar home was 2,610 square feet in size with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The median price per square-foot for all million-dollar homes was $505, up slightly from $499 for the second quarter, and up 8.7 from $464 a year ago.

Around 12 percent of the buyers paid cash, down from the 13 percent who paid cash a year ago. It was 21 percent five years ago and 25 percent 10 years ago. Of those who financed their purchase, the average down payment was 28 percent of the purchase price.

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