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California's million-dollar home sales on the rise

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Although California home sales overall dipped during 2010, the more high-end home sales — those sold for $1 million or more — climbed upward for the first time in five years. Last year, 22,529 homes sold for $1 million or more, up 21% from 18,621 in 2009 and the highest since 2008, when 24,436 homes sold for $1 million-plus, according to San Diego-based DataQuick Information Systems. In 2005, million-dollar sales peaked at 54,773, after which they declined each year through 2009. DataQuick suggests a reason for the increase may be because certain segments of the economy improved in the last year and high-end home shoppers went bargain hunting. “Prestige home buyers respond to a different set of motivations than the rest of us,” said DataQuick President John Walsh, in a press release. “Their decisions are less dependent on jobs, prices and interest rates, and more on how their portfolio is doing. The jump in $1 million-plus home sales in 2010 compares with a 9% year-over-year drop in total home sales, including all price levels. “When the financial world was full of uncertainty a couple of years back, and the jumbo loan market dried up, luxury sales plummeted,” he said. “As the economy started its top down recovery, some wealthy buyers went looking for a bargain.” California’s 418,578 total sales in 2010 were down from 460,166 in 2009. About one in 20 homes sold for a million dollars in 2010, while the year before it was one in 25, and in 2008 it was one in 16, according to DataQuick. “There has always been a safe-haven component in the million-dollar market that attracts wealth,” Walsh said. Shaina Zucker is an editorial assistant at HousingWire.

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