Southern California's housing market ended 2012 with the highest December home sales in three years, according to new data released by San Diego-based DataQuick.
A total of 20,274 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was up 5.1% from 19,285 sales in November, and up 5.3% from 19,247 sales in December 2011. Last month's sales were the highest for the month of December since 22,328 homes sold in December 2009, though they were 17.2% below the December average of 24,488 sales since 1988, when DataQuick's statistics begin.
The median price paid for a home in the six-county Southland was $323,000 last month, up 0.6% from $321,000 in November and up 19.6% from $270,000 in December 2011. For the past four consecutive months, the median has been the highest since it was $330,000 in August 2008.
Last month, 24.7% of all Southern California home sales were for $500,000 or more, which ties the November level for the highest for any month since July 2008, when 26.1% of sales were for $500,000-plus.
‘"Last year should be remembered as the year the move-up market awoke,’ says John Walsh, president of DataQuick. ‘If these upward trends hold, which requires a sustained economic recovery, we should eventually see more inventory hit the market.’
However, lower-cost areas again posted the weakest sales compared with last year: the number of homes that sold below $200,000 fell 28.1% year-over-year, while sales below $300,000 dipped 18.2%. Sales in the more affordable markets have been hampered by the slowdown in foreclosure activity, which results in fewer foreclosed properties listed for sale.