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The number of California homes that sold for a million dollars or more last year rose to the highest level in six years, and Silicon Valley neighborhoods continue to rank among the highest on the list of these high-end home sales.

A report from real estate information service DataQuick indicates a total of 39,175 California homes sold for a million dollars or more last year, up 45.1 percent from 26,993 in 2012. It was the highest number sold since 42,506 in 2007, according to DataQuick.

Hillsborough, Saratoga, Menlo Park, Cupertino, Los Altos, Woodside and Los Gatos, which are located in the five districts served by members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), were on the list of communities with the highest number of million-dollar home sales in the state. Hillsborough had 436 million-dollar home sales last year, with the most expensive home selling for $13.3 million; Saratoga, 332 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive purchased for $12.3 million; Menlo Park, 321 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive purchased for $5.5 million; Cupertino, 317 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive sold for $3.8 million; Los Altos, 267 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive purchased for $14.3 million; Woodside, 273 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive sold for $12 million; and Los Gatos, 243 million-dollar home sales, the most expensive sold for $4.8 million.

David Tonna, president of SILVAR, attributed the rise in high-end home sales in the region to a robust economy and rising home prices. “We are fortunate to have an economy that has made a comeback quickly, thanks to tech companies that are growing, some by leaps and bounds. The high demand for homes and lack of inventory has led to the appreciation of many homes,” explained Tonna.

Statewide, 840 homes sold for more than $5 million last year, an all-time high and up 20.3 percent from the previous high of 698 in 2012. In the $4-$5 million range a record 596 homes sold, up 29.3 percent from 2012. In the $3-$4 million range, a record 1,455 homes sold, up 31.3 percent from 2012. In the $2-$3 million range sales totaled 4,492, a record and up 37.4 percent from 2012. In the $1-$2 million range, 25,352 sold last year, up 42.5 percent from 2012.

The DataQuick report indicated the most expensive confirmed purchase in 2013 was a 15,355-square-foot, 8-bedroom, 14-bathroom beachfront Malibu mansion which sold for $74,500,000. The largest was a 25,447-square-foot, 16-bedroom, 18-bathroom mansion in Indian Wells that sold for $2,250,000.

According to the real estate information service a record 10,602 homes that sold for $1 million or more were bought with cash, up from 7,791 in 2012. Cash was used more frequently the higher up the price scale. Of those who did finance their purchase last year, the median down payment was 30 percent of the purchase price.

It is expensive to live in the heart of Silicon Valley, but buyer demand for homes, including million-dollar homes, continues to be strong. Real estate information service DataQuick lists the following Silicon Valley communities among the highest ranked areas for million-dollar homes sales in California in the second quarter.

  • Hillsborough topped the list with 134 sales in 2012 Q2, up from 118 in 2011 Q2, with the most expensive home purchased for $5.28 million.
  • Saratoga ranked second with 126 million-dollar homes purchased in 2012 Q2, up from 93 in 2011 Q2, with the most expensive of purchased at $5.35 million.
  • Cupertino ranked fifth (after Manhattan Beach and Newport Beach in Southern California) with 105 million-dollar homes sold in 2012 Q2, up from 88 in 2011 Q2, with the most expensive home purchased for $2.45 million.
  • Los Altos ranked sixth after Cupertino with 102 million-dollar home sales in 2012 Q2. The most expensive home was purchased for $6 million. Los Altos had 81 million-dollar home sales in 2011 Q2.
  • In Los Gatos, the most expensive home purchased cost $4.66 million. There were 67 million-dollar homes purchased in the zip code of 95032, up from 44 in 2011 Q2. In the Los Gatos zip code of 95030, 62 million-dollar homes were purchased last quarter, up from 31 in the second-quarter last year.

Despite the hype over Facebook’s IPO, Menlo Park and Palo Alto made the list, but had fewer million-dollar home sales in second-quarter 2012 than the same time last year, according to DataQuick. Menlo Park had 100 million-dollar homes sold in second-quarter 2012, down from 124 last year, with the most expensive home purchased for $4.8 million. Palo Alto had 62 million-dollar homes sold, down from 69 in 2011 Q2, with the most expensive home purchased for $3.15 million.

Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) president Suzanne Yost, who is an associate broker with Alain Pinel Realtors in Los Gatos, is not surprised that many of the communities located within SILVAR’s five districts made the list. “Silicon Valley’s economy is healthy compared with other parts of the state because it is the heart of innovation, with many successful tech companies,” said Yost.

Yost added, “Our members have reported a surge of foreign buyers. They are attracted to the region’s weather, diversity, excellent schools, good mix and proximity to shopping, entertainment, the arts and services. We’re not that far from San Francisco, close to the freeways and airports. Buyers know they can’t go wrong and they are willing to pay the price for these amenities.”

SILVAR has five member districts, allowing members to work closely with their communities. They are the Menlo Park/Atherton District (including Portola Valley, Woodside and East Palo Alto), Palo Alto District, Los Altos/Mountain View District (including Los Altos Hills), Cupertino/Sunnyvale District and the Los Gatos/Saratoga District (including Monte Sereno).

SILVAR’s Cupertino/Sunnyvale District raised $1,100 at its annual Valentine Charity Auction yesterday. Mark Burns served as auctioneer. Burns and auction organizer Carolyn Miller enticed members to bid generously on numerous items, including a twosome round of golf, dinner reservations, plush stuffed animals, chocolates, clothing and accessories, and gift certificates.

This year’s event was well-attended. Scott Fleming, a new SILVAR affiliate, won the big auction item. For his top bid of $350, he received two tickets to a San Jose Sharks game. The tickets were generously donated by Mark Burns, Chris Shupp, Miranda Jung, Kyle Chuang and Richard Miller.

The District thanks everyone who supported the auction. Auction proceeds go to a number of charitable projects the District supports.

“Thank you to all who participated,” said Miller, who has been in charge of the annual auction for the past four years.

Miller also conveyed a special thanks to the affiliates for their strong support and cooperation. “You are again commended on your wonderful cooperation in this event. The participation and support you give to our district is over the top!” added Miller.

VIEW PHOTOS

The Cupertino First-time Home Buyer Seminar held last Saturday was well-attended.

The City of Cupertino and SILVAR’s Equal Opportunity Committee partnered to present a First-Time Home Buyer Seminar at the Cupertino Community Hall last Saturday. SILVAR members served as panelists in discussions focusing on credit information and tips for first-time home buyers. A third segment of the seminar was presented by The Housing Trust of Santa Clara County.

Presenting advice on credit, Richard Miller (Proficio Mortgage Ventures), Kenneth Chan (HSBC), and Jimmy Kang (Bank of America) stressed now, more than ever, your FICO score is very important. Miller recommended that potential buyers check their FICO score at least once a year to make sure their credit report is accurate; six credit cards are ideal; and make sure debt on each credit card is no more than 30 percent of the allowed credit. Chan informed international buyers of requirements for buying property here in the U.S. Kang talked about the different loans available for buyers.

A panel of REALTORS® with Chris Alston (Keller Williams Realty), Nina Daruwalla (Coldwell Banker), Grace Keng (Re/Max Real Estate Services), and Moise Nahouraii (Referral Realty) informed prospective home buyers that these days, in addition to having a good credit rating and history, they need to get pre-approved by a lender before they start looking at homes or contacting a real estate professional. They differentiated between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent, stressing REALTORS® pledge to abide by a Code of Ethics. They reminded buyers there is no “perfect home,” but with the help of a REALTOR® who is knowledgeable and employing good negotiating strategies, one can find the best property for the best value and clinch the deal.

Dan Lachman, program manager of The Housing Trust of Santa Clara County, then shared information on programs that provide financial assistance to first-time homebuyers, including the Closing Cost Assistance Program (CCAP), the Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) and Equity Share Co-Investment (ESCO).

“Almost 80 percent of all home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few clicks of the mouse, home buyers can search through hundreds of online listings, view virtual tours of neighborhoods and homes,” said Tess, Crescini, chair of SILVAR’s Equal Opportunity Committee. “Many prospective home buyers don’t realize a lot of preparation is needed before their search. We hope we were able to educate them about these important steps, so their home buying experience can be successful.”

Crescini moderated the SILVAR panels, along with Sue Bose, who is also a member of the committee. The weekend seminar was held in observance of Affordable Housing Week. Also represented at the event were credit counselors from SurePath, West Valley Community Services, Neighborhood Housing Services Silicon Valley, Project Sentinel and Habitat for Humanity.

See article and more photos on here.

“Housing affordability has never been better, but the high unemployment rate, slow job growth and difficulty in obtaining credit, especially for high-cost homes, continue to be stumbling blocks to a complete housing recovery,” according to Jeff Bell, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

Uneven Recovery, but Sales Clearly “Off Bottom”
The National Association of REALTORS® reports today that sales of existing homes in October declined 2.2 percent to a 4.43 million annual rate from 4.53 million in September. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $170,500, down 0.9 percent from October 2009.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said the recent sales pattern can be expected to continue, but he believes sales will steadily improve to healthier levels of above 5 million by spring of next year. “The housing market is experiencing an uneven recovery, and a temporary foreclosure stoppage in some states is likely to have held back a number of completed sales. Still, sales activity is clearly off the bottom and is attempting to settle into normal sustainable levels,” he said.

Overly tight credit is making it difficult for some creditworthy borrowers to qualify for a mortgage. “A return to common sense loan underwriting standards would go a long way toward achieving responsible, sustainable homeownership,” said NAR President Ron Phipps.

Home Builder Confidence Up, but Obtaining Credit Is a Problem
Home builders are also complaining that tight credit is getting in their way. Nationwide housing starts declined 11.7 percent to an annual rate of 519,000 units in October. Despite the decline, the National Association of Home Builders reports builder confidence is up slightly, as builders are starting to report some improvement in buyer demand and quality of buyer traffic.

“The great concern is that this positive momentum will be stifled due to builders’ inability to obtain financing for new construction at a time when inventories of completed new homes are very thin,” NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in a press release.

In addition to tight credit, worry continues about the high unemployment rate, slow job growth and looming shadow inventory. Distressed homes accounted for 34 percent of sales in October, according to NAR. There’s also the threat of foreclosures mounting as a growing amount of homeowners remain out of work and those who have borrowed against their equity default on their mortgage.

GDP Growth Better Than Anticipated
On the upside, the Commerce Department reports the economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, more than previously calculated, due to increased shipments abroad and business spending for equipment and software.

Santa Clara County October Median Up Slightly
Although October home sales fell, Santa Clara County saw a slight year-over-year gain in its October median home price. According to a California Association of REALTORS® report released today, the October median price for a single-family home in Santa Clara County was $637,750, was up 8 percent from the same time a year ago. October sales of single-family detached homes in the county were down 24 percent from October 2009, when the first-time home buyer credits was available.

C.A.R. reports DataQuick statistics, which are based on county records data rather than MLS information, ranked the Silicon Valley cities of Los Altos, Palo Alto, Cupertino and Los Gatos among the top 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during October 2010. The October median home price in Los Altos was $1,700,000; Palo Alto, $1,050,000; Cupertino, $1,022,500; and Los Gatos, $1,000,000.

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