SoCal Home Sales Rise

Last month, 22,132 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in Southern California – an increase of 2.8% from September's total of 21,539, according to MDA DataQuick.

Two counties – Orange and San Diego – posted modest year-over-year increases in their overall median sale price last month. It was the second consecutive gain for Orange County and the first in more than three years for San Diego. Both counties also posted small annual gains the past two months in their median price paid for resale single-family detached houses.

October marked the 16th month in a row with a year-over-year sales gain, although last month's was the smallest of those increases. The 2.8% uptick in October sales from September wasn't unusual, given sales have increased between those two months in half of the years – including 2007 and 2008 – since 1988, when DataQuick began collecting its statistics. The average change between September and October is a decline of just under 1%.

Sales increases over the last two months can be partially attributed to the recent increase in short sales, which take longer to close escrow. The result is that some summer deals that might normally have closed earlier instead closed in September and October, DataQuick says.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages accounted for 38.3% of all Southland purchase loans last month, compared with 32.5% a year ago and just 2% two years ago. FHA's share of purchase loans varied last month from 26.2% in Orange County to 49.2% in Riverside County.

"The government is playing a huge role in stabilizing and, to some extent, reinvigorating the housing market," says John Walsh, DataQuick president. "Its actions have triggered ultra-low mortgage rates, plentiful low-down-payment financing, an extended and expanded tax credit for home buyers, and programs and political pressure aimed at reducing foreclosures."



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