Manhattan Beach leads rebound of California’s million-dollar housing market

By Gregory J. Wilcox | Daily Breeze

Here are the state’s priciest communities, along with how many $1 million-plus residences sold in 2013.

1. Manhattan Beach, 439

2. Hillsborough, 436

3. La Jolla, 398

4. Newport Beach, 376

5. Laguna Beach, 374

Source: DataQuick

Manhattan Beach led a strong rebound in California’s luxury housing market in 2013, as sales of homes costing $1 million or more soared 45 percent in the Golden State to their highest level in six years, a market tracker said this week.

Last year, wealthy buyers purchased 39,175 homes costing $1 million or more compared to 26,993 in 2012, said La Jolla-based DataQuick. That’s the most since 42,506 in 2007.

A record number of buyers — 10,602 — ponied up cash for their tony digs and, once again, Southern California dominated the luxury market.

Manhattan Beach recorded 439 million-plus sales — the most in the state in 2013 — edging out Hillsborough in Northern California’s San Mateo County by three sales.

Even the dirt in the affluent beach town is expensive (some undeveloped lots sold for $900,000 each last year), and many million-dollar pads don’t even have an ocean view.

One of the nicer neighborhoods is just east of Highland Avenue. It’s family oriented and has sidewalks and big lots, said Adolph Janes of Shorewood Realtors in Manhattan Beach.

“Most lots are 7,500 square feet. Those lots start at $2 million,” he said. “The typical 2,000-square-foot house and below — well, we tear those down, and we build new homes.”

Other Los Angeles-area communities on DataQuick’s compendium of most expensive California cities were Brentwood at sixth, Beverly Hills at seventh and Pacific Palisades at eighth. And seven of the state’s top-10 markets were in Southern California.

The return of big money into expensive real estate reflects an improving economy, stock-market rebound and a 20 percent increase in the state’s median home price.

“There is a lot of wealth out there, and people do need some place to park it. With the increase in California home prices, I think we’ll see more people moving back into residential real estate,” said Kimberly Ritter Martinez, an economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research in Los Angeles.

Malibu notched the most expensive sale last year — $74.5 million for a 15,355-square-foot, eight-bedroom, 14-bathroom beachfront estate built in 1993, DataQuick said.

The company does not release addresses, but several websites list the estate as 33064 Pacific Coast Highway. It’s on a 4.85-acre lot with a tennis court and infinity pool and sweeping ocean view. estimates the monthly mortgage payment at $289,510. said in a Dec. 6 posting that Howard Marks, founder of Oaktree Capital Management, sold the estate to an anonymous Russian buyer. It was the most expensive sale in the U.S. at the time and a record for Malibu, the site noted.

In some Southern California communities, including Santa Monica, all the sales last year were $1 million or more deals, DataQuick said.

“The luxury home market is unique, always has been,” John Walsh, DataQuick president, said in a statement. “It responds to its own set of economic factors. Things like job growth, mortgage interest rates and migration patterns do not play the same role as IPOs (and) stock-market performance.”


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