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A Wealth of $1-Million Homes

California's real estate boom has made the onetime stratospheric price commonplace.

January 25, 2006|Annette Haddad | Times Staff Writer

Million-dollar homes were once a sign of real affluence. Now, at least in California, they are getting to be a dime a dozen.

Nearly 49,000 homes in the state sold for at least $1 million last year -- a 47% increase from 2004, according to data released Tuesday by DataQuick Information Systems, a La Jolla-based real estate research firm.

Adolph Rangel joined the $1-million-home club thanks to the state's 6-year-old real estate boom.

In 2004, the 30-year-old mortgage bank branch manager sold his Yorba Linda house for $1.05 million, $300,000 more than he paid 12 months earlier. Last year, Rangel bought a new tract home there for $1.3 million and on Sunday he accepted an offer on it for $1.55 million.

His idea of a million-dollar house used to be "what you saw on 'Dynasty,' " Rangel said. "I didn't think it would be a million-dollar tract house."

California ranked first in the survey of homes selling for at least $1 million in 2005, DataQuick said.

In Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County, one of the wealthiest communities in the U.S., virtually all home sales were in the $1-million-plus category. Malibu and Beverly Hills have always had their share.

The real news is that $1-million homes are becoming more commonplace in areas not known for lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Now it's expensive to be Eagle Rock-adjacent: In the Glassell Park area of Los Angeles, 18 homes sold for $1 million or more last year, versus only one in 2004, according to DataQuick, which collects data on all reported home transactions in California. In Baldwin Hills, the number of seven-figure sales went to 23 from 9. Temple City posted 17. The year before: zero.

"A million dollars isn't what it used to be," said James Joseph, owner of Century 21 Grisham-Joseph brokerage in Whittier.

Indeed, if you sold a home in California last year, there was a 1 in 13 chance that it went for at least $1 million, according to DataQuick.

Your chances in 2004: 1 in 20.

The total of homes fetching $1 million or more last year was nearly four times the number in 2002, according to DataQuick.

Only a few years ago, $1 million bought you an "estate" property, one with ample square footage on a large lot in an exclusive neighborhood.

Not anymore. The median-sized million-dollar home last year was 2,480 square feet with four bedrooms and three bathrooms, DataQuick found.

Joseph said the less-ritzy neighborhoods were still catching up with the high-end coastal communities that were the first in Southern California to see prices start ascending in 2000. Lately, though, the priciest ZIP Codes are starting to lose some steam.

Take the famous 90210 in Beverly Hills. The median home price there rose 5.6% last year, with the price per square foot reaching $702. By comparison, the median home price in La Mirada surged 20% to $535,000, or about $360 a square foot. (The median is the price at which half of all homes sold for more, half for less.) Twenty homes in La Mirada sold for more than $1 million last year, versus only two in 2004.

The million-dollar-home trend is pushing even farther inland into non-resort communities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Several new million-dollar-home markets emerged there last year, thanks to sales of newly built large homes on big lots.

The city of Norco, known for its horsy set and ever-present smell of manure, had 55 sales of $1 million or more, up from six the year before, DataQuick said.

"The million-dollar cycle hasn't completely played itself out in the more affordable areas, which include the Inland Empire," said John Karevoll, DataQuick's chief analyst. "There is more to happen there."

Even condominiums in California are breaching the $1-million mark. There were 2,902 condo sales in the million-dollar category last year, up 73% from the year before, DataQuick said. Most were sold in West Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

Officially, the most expensive confirmed purchase last year was a 13,636-square-foot, six-bedroom, 12-bathroom La Jolla house on six acres, which went for $23.5 million in September, DataQuick said.

Unofficially, however, some homes sold for much more. The super-rich sometimes pay cash, and sometimes their prices aren't officially recorded. The Beverly Hills mansion that was once the home of oil tycoon Marvin Davis reportedly sold for $42 million last year.

Currently, there are close to 200 California homes for sale listed at $8 million or above, according to Ultimate Homes magazine. At the top of the list is a Malibu beach pad on seven acres with an ocean view. The asking price: $65 million.

Nationwide, there are 1 million homes valued at $1 million or more, said Ultimate Homes Publisher Richard Goodwin. That's up from about 350,000 in 2000.

No wonder having a million-dollar home doesn't have quite the cachet these days for people such as Yorba Linda homeowner Rangel.

Even as a youth, Rangel envisioned himself becoming successful enough to one day plunk down $1 million on a place to live. But with California home prices the way they are, Rangel says his dream has been downsized considerably.

"It's amazing when you think about it," Rangel said. "Where did all these millionaires come from?"

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Million-dollar babies

One in 13 homes sold in California went for $1 million or more in 2005.

Number of homes that sold for $1 million or more in 2005 (in thousands)

'02: 13.9

'03: 19.1

'04: 33.1

'05: 48.7

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ZIP Codes with the highest number of homes that sold for $1 million or more in 2005

*--* Highest # price ZIP Area Sold (millions) 92037 La Jolla 478 $23.5 90266 Manhattan Beach 444 5.3 94010 Hillsborough 396 6.5 92130 Del Mar 379 7.5 92677 Laguna Niguel 378 6.7 95070 Saratoga 372 5.8 92660 Newport Beach 371 7.6 92648 Huntington Beach 360 3.5 92253 La Quinta 354 9.5 95014 Cupertino 347 2.6

*--*

Source: DataQuick Information Systems

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