The Housing Chronicles Blog: SoCal home prices now at $247,000 as sales rise

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SoCal home prices now at $247,000 as sales rise

The latest data from Dataquick for the month of April is out, and prices fell from $250,000 to $247,000 as sales rose by over 31% from the same month of April. Yet the story is certainly not the same for the various counties here, with much of the pricing decline due to foreclosures in the Inland Empire. For now, sales in the coastal markets -- where owners generally have more staying power to wait for prices to stabilize -- remain low. From an L.A. Times story:

Southern California's median home price in April was $247,000, down slightly from the previous month, a real estate research firm reported today.

The price drop -- a decline of 51% from the 2007 peak -- came after three months in which the median price had held steady at $250,000, according to the data from San Diego-based MDA DataQuick. The brief respite from price declines had raised hopes the housing market may have been close to its bottom.

Last month's price drop, however, drove home purchases up. The total of 20,514 homes sold in six Southland counties last month was up 5.2% from March and up 31.4% from a year ago, DataQuick reported.

The rise in home sales is an important step to housing market recovery, said UC Irvine economist Kerry Vandell, because the sales help to clear the surplus of homes -- many vacant -- still flooding the market...

Previously foreclosed homes -- many of them deeply discounted -- accounted for 54% of the sales total. April was the seventh consecutive month in which the majority of homes sold in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties had been foreclosed.

Sales were at record or near-record levels in foreclosure-heavy inland areas. Higher-priced coastal areas, including Malibu, Pacific Palisades, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Manhattan Beach, as well as Beverly Hills, saw record or near-record lows in sales.

A tale of two markets is clear in Southern California, with low-priced areas appearing close to recovery, while wealthier areas face greater uncertainty as sales languish amid an economic downturn...

Wealthier areas may face new troubles because "we still face two big threats to price stability: layoffs, which can cause foreclosures across the home price spectrum, and possibly a new round of foreclosures triggered by defaults on 'option ARM' and 'stated income' loans used in mid- to high-end markets," Walsh said.

San Bernardino County showed the sharpest price decline in April, with its median price falling 48% from a year ago, to $138,500. Riverside County's median price of $180,000 was a 39% decline. Los Angeles County prices were down 31% to a median of $300,000. Orange County's median price was down 24% to $380,000. Ventura County's median of $340,000 was down 24% from April last year and San Diego's median of $290,000 was down 28% from a year ago...

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Southern California buyers committed themselves to paying was $1,030 last month, down from $1,074 the previous month, and down from $1,831 a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, current payments are 52.9% below typical payments in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. They are 61.4% below the current cycle's peak in July 2007.

No comments: