A total of 8,082 homes were sold in L.A. County in July, according to Dataquick, up from 7,636 the previous month and 6,592 for July 2008. Median prices were up slightly from June, but still down almost 20 percent from a year earlier. Sales in the pricier coastal regions finally showed some life, though lower-cost foreclosures slowed down (various moratoriums have delayed foreclosures). The higher sales are the result of increased affordability, low mortgage rates, plentiful government-insured FHA financing for first-time buyers, robust investor demand and, improved access to the "jumbo" financing used to buy more expensive homes. From Dataquick:
July sales of existing single-family houses rose above a year ago in many coastal towns, including Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Carlsbad, Encinitas and La Jolla. Among the higher-cost Southland communities not posting such a gain were Malibu, Rancho Palos Verdes, Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Del Mar.
The recent shift toward more sales of higher-cost homes, in conjunction with the decline in sales of deeply discounted foreclosures, has put upward pressure on the median sale price. The median is the point where half of the homes sold for more and half for less. The dramatic declines in the median over the past two years were partly the result of the high-end housing market all but shutting down, just as resales of low-cost, inland foreclosures exploded.
Dataquick President John Walsh is reluctant to declare a bottoming out in prices. "Even if we are at or near bottom," he added, "history suggests we could bounce along that bottom for quite a while."
JULY HOME SALES (% change from July 2008)
Los Angeles 8,082 +22.6%
Orange 3,128 +11.8%
Riverside 4,699 +14.2%
San Bernardino 3,549 +40.8%
San Diego 3,809 +11.0%
Ventura 837 -3.8%
JULY MEDIAN HOME PRICES (% change from July 2008)
Los Angeles $321,000 -19.8%
Orange $420,000 -8.9%
Riverside $185,000 -28.8%
San Bernardino $140,000 -39.1%
San Diego $320,000 -12.1%
Ventura $375,000 -10.7%
Source: MDA DataQuick, DQNews.com