Home/Mortgages/Home Sales Flat in Southern California, Prices Edge Up

December 14, 2011 (Chris Moore)

Monthly sales of new and existing homes in Southern California remained virtually unchanged from the previous month in November while home prices edged up slightly according to real estate information provider DataQuick.

Sales in the Southern California region, which includes Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties, totaled 16,884 new and re-sale homes in November, virtually unchanged from the 16,829 homes sold in October, but still 22.7 percent below the November historical average of 21,832 sold homes. Sales were 4.2 percent higher than in November of last year when 16,208 homes were sold.

Sales typically fall 8.4 percent from October to November and have varied from a low of 13,173 in 2007 to a high of 31,987 in 1988.

New home sales were at their lowest level on record for a November, falling 15.2 percent below last years levels, while sales of existing single-family homes and condos were 5.8 percent higher than in November of last year.

Sales transactions in the price ranges affected by the recent lowering of the conforming loan limits continued to fall for the second consecutive month. Transactions of all homes above $500,000 declined 15.7 percent from a year earlier while transactions in the $600,000 to $750,000 price range tumbled 22.8 percent and transactions for homes over $800,000 fell by 17.6 percent. Meanwhile, the number of homes that sold for less than $400,000 in November increased by 6.1 percent from a year earlier.

In Los Angeles and Orange County alone, where the conforming loan limits fell from $729,750 to $625,500, the number of sales transactions in that price range in November dropped to 58 homes from 71 in October, a decline of 44.2 percent, with sales transactions in that price range falling 84.1 percent compared to November of last year.

John Walsh, president of DataQuick, stated “’Tis still the season to go bargain hunting – or at least that’s what the November home sales data suggest. The portion of homes sold to investors continued to hover near an all-time high. Lower prices and amazingly low mortgage rates tempted those with the confidence to buy and the ability to qualify for a loan, or to pay cash. But these sales levels remain subpar, with new-home sales stuck at record lows. Part of it is the economy and would-be buyers’ uncertainty – about jobs, home prices and a potential surge in foreclosed properties hitting the market. Part of it’s the folks who can’t move up because they’re upside down with their mortgages. And many who want to buy more expensive homes struggle with the financing.”

The median sales price paid for all new and re-sale homes in the Southern California region in November was $275,000. The median price was 1.9 percent higher than the $270,000 price posted in October and 4.2 percent lower than in November of 2010 when the median price was $287,000.

The highest median sales price for homes in the region during the current housing cycle’s peak was $505,000 in mid-2007 while the lowest was $247,000 in April 2009.

The median sales price has declined year-over-year for the past nine months and has declined or remained unchanged since December 2010.

Distressed properties accounted for 51.3 percent of the re-sale market in November, down from 52.5 percent in October, with foreclosure re-sales accounting for 31.7 percent of the market while short sales made up an estimated 19.6 percent of re-sales.

Cash buyers accounted for 28.9 percent of the homes sold for the month, down from 29.4 percent in October, paying a median price of $205,000 for their purchases. Absentee buyers accounted for 24.8 percent of all sales, down from 25.1 percent in October, paying a median price of $200,000 for the homes they purchased.

Tags: DataQuick, Southern California, new homes, re-sale homes, median price, home sales, investors, absentee buyers