Is housing market turning?

It's probably too early to know, but the March median home price in L.A. County was actually up $10,000 from the previous month, to an even 300K. Of course, it was also down 31.8 percent from a year earlier. The new Dataquick numbers show home sales jumping 40.1 percent from a year earlier, though much of the action still centers on foreclosed properties. From the Dataquick press release:

"We're still waiting for the upper half of the mortgage market to open up. We know that sales of lower-cost housing, especially foreclosure resales in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, are driving today's market. What we don't know is how the recession has affected the more expensive neighborhoods," said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president. "Those neighborhoods are dormant right now, but when so-called jumbo financing becomes available, possibly before summer, we expect enough sales to close escrow to generate more meaningful price statistics. Of late the statistics haven't represented the overall market. Rather, to a large extent they're simply a reflection of what is selling - mainly distressed properties and homes in the more affordable neighborhoods," Walsh said.

Trouble is, the banks are ramping up foreclosure proceedings, which could further deflate prices. Here's the WSJ story. Another imponderable is the availability of jumbo loans (loans of more than $417,000) that are usually necessary to finance the more expensive properties found in many parts of L.A. Two years ago, jumbos accounted for around 40 percent of all homes sold in Southern California; last month it was 10 percent.

MARCH HOME SALES (% change from 2008)
Los Angeles 5,971 +40.1%
Orange 2,413 +45.1%
Riverside 4,409 +63.8%
San Bernardino 2,897 +88.9%
San Diego 3,020 +43.3%
Ventura 776 +41.3%

MARCH HOME PRICES (% change from 2008)
Los Angeles $300,000 -31.8%
Orange $390,000 -22.9%
Riverside $187,000 -38.9%
San Bernardino $150,000 -43.4%
San Diego $285,000 -27.8%
Ventura $326,000 -24.2%

Source: MDA DataQuick,

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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