Want to buy a house? Better bring boatloads of cash

Mortgages? Meh! More California homes were bought with cash in 2012 than any previous year - and by a lot. The 145,797 total tops the previous record of 125,812 in 2011 (cash sales totaled just 39,731 in 2007, when the housing market cratered). None of this will come as a surprise to anyone who has been house hunting, especially in some of L.A.'s higher-priced areas. The availability of cash is one reason offers often have been drifting well above the asking price (that and the limited inventory of homes). In L.A. County, 26.1 percent of 2012 sales were cash deals; in SF it was 32.4 percent and in Marin County 54.1 percent. Anyone hoping to finance is likely to have a tough time competing - and that assumes the bank even approves your loan. From Dataquick:

"It's clear that a lot of today's housing market recovery is being fueled by people putting their own money into homes. Some cash buying is part of a normal housing market, but we're at twice that normal rate. There are always some rich people, also buyers from abroad, but in a normal market the biggest single category would be retirees and empty-nesters who are down-sizing. Today, a lot of buyers are chasing what they view as the deal of a lifetime," said John Walsh, DataQuick president. Cash purchases accounted for a record 32.4 percent of California's overall home sales last year, up from 30.4 percent in 2011 and more than double the annual average of 15.6 percent since 1991, when DataQuick's cash statistics begin.

County/Region 2011 2012 Pct.


Los Angeles 19,580 24,688 26.1%

Orange 8,346 10,760 28.9%

San Diego 9,857 13,052 32.4%

Riverside 14,220 15,559 9.4%

San Bernardino 10,418 10,954 5.1%

Ventura 1,933 2,457 27.1%

San Francisco 1,372 1,816 32.4%

Alameda 4,241 4,986 17.6%

Contra Costa 5,246 5,766 9.9%

Santa Clara 4,625 5,415 17.1%

San Mateo 1,694 1,948 15.0%

Marin 758 1,168 54.1%

Solano 2,291 2,535 10.7%

Sonoma 1,711 2,122 24.0%

Napa 354 490 38.4%

Source: DataQuick, DQNews.com

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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