SoCal Home Sales Rise, As Higher-Cost Areas ‘Awaken’

Southern California homes sold last month at the fastest clip for a July in three years and the fastest pace for any month since December 2006, reports MDA DataQuick, based in San Diego.

The median price paid rose slightly from June – marking the third consecutive month-to-month gain – as sales in pricier coastal areas continued to rise and sales of lower-cost foreclosures waned.

A total of 24,104 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties last month. That was up 3.6% from 23,262 in June and up 18.6% from 20,329 a year ago.

Sales have increased year-over-year for 13 consecutive months, and DataQuick cites increased affordability, plentiful Federal Housing Administration financing, strong investor demand and improved access to jumbo financing as key drivers.

Last month, the share of Southland purchase loans above $417,000 rose to 15.1% – the highest since it was 15.6% in August 2008. The resurrection of the jumbo product, coupled with a tapering off of distressed home sales, has put upward pressure on the median sale price.

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Southland last month was $268,000 – up 1.1% from $265,000 in June, but down 23% from $348,000 a year ago.

"[T]here's still quite a bit of distress out there, and plenty of unknowns with regard to how lenders and borrowers will choose to proceed," comments John Walsh, DataQuick president. "Even if we are at or near bottom, history suggests we could bounce along that bottom for quite a while."

Last month's median was the highest since it was $278,000 last December, but it stood 46.9% below the peak $505,000 median reached in the spring and summer of 2007.



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