Explaining Southern California's economy

If you want to buy a house in Santa Monica, bring $1 million or go home

ferris wheel santa monica pier

Photo by guyprentice via Flickr Creative Commons

Gorgeous. You can visit, but if you want to live with this view, you'll need a million bucks.

This week, real estate tracking firm DataQuick released its annual report on the condition of the million-dollar (and up...waaayyy up) home market in California.

There was the usual drive-by-and-gawk stuff. The Woodside manse that went for $117.5 million in 2012. A 13-bathroom (is that unlucky?) palace in Bel Air. The seemingly impressive 26,993 homes that sold for a million or more in 2012 in California, a 27 percent rise from 2011.

Why seemingly impressive?

Because in 2007, the total was 45,502.

How far we have fallen.

The report also contained this astounding factoid: "Virtually all home sales in some communities were in the $1 million-plus category." 

One of those communities was Santa Monica. Specifically, what DataQuick analyst John Karevoll identified as the "enclavish" zip code of 90402, where 91.2 percent of the homes sold in 2012 changed hands for at least a million bucks.

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For a guy who just had $10 million in art and his Porsche ripped off, Jeff Gundlach was impressive on CNBC

Porsche-Carrera-4S

Porsche

SoCal's new bond king, Jeff Gundlach, is missing one of the these: a 2010 Porsche Carrera 4S. Along with $10 million in art and a few bottles of wine.

There are three big names in bonds these days, and they're all in Southern California. Together, Bill Gross and Mohamed El-Erian run Newport Beach-based PIMCO, the world's largest bond fund, overseeing a jaw-dropping $1.8 trillion in assets. Meanwhile, former '80s rocker Jeff Gundlach has been coming on strong in the past year.

His L.A. firm, DoubleLine Captial, has grown significantly, with now more than $40 billion under management. Gundlach's old firm, TCW (which he left in a cloud of controversy in 2009), is also in the news: It's being bought by the Carlyle Group, one of the world's biggest private equity firms.

PIMCO is in the midst of much speculation about whether El-Erian will be able to run the find as effectively as Gross once Gross decides to call it quits. This has created plenty of opportunity for Gundlach, who was already well known for his ability to make piles of money, to position DoubleLine as a better, faster PIMCO and a smarter, punkier TCW. Back in May, Businessweek's Roben Farzad captured the meteoric ascent of DoubleLine, which has gone from zero to $40-ish billion since 2010, and Gundlach, the new "bond king."

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