About 33 percent of all home purchases in California were paid in cash in the first quarter, the highest level since 2011, according to Irvine-based RealtyTrac.
"When you do have a home that comes for sale and there are multiple offers, you have the cash buyers often winning out because their offers are the ones that move the most quickly, so sellers are accepting those first and that's putting the cash buyers at the front of the line," said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac's vice president.
Blomquist estimates more than half of the all-cash buyers are investors or second-time homeowners, with a portion of foreign buyers from places like China.
Areas with a high percentage of home sales paid in cash include Beverly Hills, Arcadia and San Marino.
In January, Teles Properties listed a four-bedroom, four bathroom home for nearly $1.8 million. The seller got 11 offers—all in cash. The home sold for roughly $300,000 above the asking price.
Realtor Carrie Benuska said in the San Marino area, many all cash buyers come from overseas.
"There's still a very large influx of foreign buyers coming in and pretty much these buyers are coming in with lots of cash," Benuska said.
But her colleague, realtor Lucy Mao, believes the number of cash buyers from China will change as the country's economy evolves. She noted minimum wage is increasing in China and manufacturing is moving to other countries.
"It's certainly going to slow down this influx of all cash buyers," Mao said.