Another dip in home prices

February's median price in L.A. County was $315,000, down $10,000 from the previous month and $24,000 from December, when more high-end homes were being sold. Even year-ago comparisons are slipping, according to the Dataquick numbers: February's median price was up 5.4 percent, but January's was up 8.3 percent. The picture is especially confusing because prices for some counties are up quite a bit from a year ago while the Inland Empire is trending flat to down. That's why you really need to go county by county - cumulative numbers are meaningless.

"The market is less lopsided, but before a real rebalancing occurs, adjustable-rate and jumbo mortgages need to come back," says Dataquick President John Walsh. Jumbos, which run above $417,000 and are considered key to any significant rebound, made up just 14.8 percent of last month's lending in Southern California, essentially unchanged from January. Before the credit crisis, they accounted for 40 percent of the market. Meanwhile, foreclosures accounted for 42.3 percent of the resale market. L.A. home sales were up 9.7 percent from a year earlier, but down a bit from the previous month. All told, it's not exactly a great picture, but then again, there have been signs that the market was slowing down.

FEBRUARY HOME SALES (% change from February 2009)
Los Angeles 5,034 +9.7%
Orange 1,986 +5.7%
Riverside 3,199 -6.5%
San Bernardino 2,095 -9.9%
Ventura 580 +6.4%

FEBRUARY MEDIAN PRICES (% change from February 2009)
Los Angeles $315,000 +5.4%
Orange $417,000 +11.2%
Riverside $197,000 +3.7%
San Bernardino $150,000 -2.0%
Ventura $350,000 +7.0%

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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