Home/Mortgages/Southern California Home Sales Rebound in August

September 25, 2012 (Chris Moore)

Monthly sales of new and existing homes in the Southern California region rebounded during August following two consecutive months of declines according to real estate information provider DataQuick while home prices continued to see steady improvement.

Sales in the Southern California region, which includes Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties, totaled 22,438 new and re-sale homes in August, a 9.0 percent increase from the 20,588 homes sold in July and 14.2 percent higher than the 19,654 homes sold in August of last year.

Home sales in the area typically increase about 4.1 percent between July and August but were still 15.6 percent below the historical average for the month of August. Year-over-year, home sales have increased for the last eight months and 12 out of the last 13 months.

Cash buyers accounted for 31.6 percent of the homes sold for the month, down from a revised 31.8 percent the previous month. Cash buyers paid a median price of $242,000 for their purchases, up from $235,000 the previous month.

Absentee buyers, usually investors and vacation home buyers, accounted for 27.0 percent of all sales in August, down from a revised 27.5 percent in July, and they paid a median price of $235,000 for the homes they purchased, unchanged from the previous month.

The median sales price paid for all new and re-sale homes in the Southern California region increased 1.0 percent in August to $309,000 from $306,000 in July. The median price a year ago was also $279,000.

It was the fifth consecutive month that year-over year home prices have increased in the Southern California area after 16 months of declines.

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 August 2009.

John Walsh, president of DataQuick, stated, “August was the strongest month for home sales so far this year, and the strongest for an August in six years. That’s really saying something given the drop in low-end sales, especially foreclosure resales. Much of the pickup in activity reflects a continuation of trends we’ve seen for months, like the unleashing of pent-up demand in move-up markets and high levels of cash and investor buying. It will be interesting to see at what point cash purchases, which still account for close to a third of all sales, start to fade. In the meantime, strong seasonal forces should be kicking in now. Absent an unusual surge in demand this fall, sales will taper off over the next few months.”

Distressed properties accounted for 36.8 percent of the re-sale market in August, down from 39.4 percent in July, with foreclosures accounting for 19.2 percent of the re-sale market, down from 20.7 percent in July, while short sales made up an estimated 17.6 percent of re-sales, down from 18.7 percent the previous month.

Distressed property sales were at their lowest level since January of 2008 as foreclosure re-sales have fallen by nearly two-thirds since reaching their high of 56.7 percent of all re-sales in February 2009.

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