Home prices back up

The median price of an L.A. County home in March was $329,000, up $14,000 from the previous month and $29,000 from March 2009, according to Dataquick. That price bump could reflect a pickup in the number of homes sold for $500,000 or more - last month they made up almost 20 percent of sales in Socal, compared with 15 percent a year earlier. The 5 percent gain is not huge, but it might augur renewed interest on the higher end, something that's been generally missing since the downturn began. Along with the boost in prices has been a gradual improvement in the jumbo loan market. Jumbos (loans that run $417,000 and higher) made up 15.7 percent of last month's purchase lending, up from 10.5 percent a year ago. Cash deals offer some of the best deals - they accounted for 27.1 percent of March sales; in February they made up 30 percent, an all-time high. L.A. County sales, meanwhile, were up from February to March. Foreclosures as a percentage of total sales were down. All told, it was a pretty good month, though not good enough to rule out more trouble later this year. From Dataquick release:

"It's a reflection of just how grim things got, that we've now had almost two years of sales gains and we're still 18 percent below the sales average. The market won't rebalance until mortgage lending patterns normalize, and that's just not happening yet. Some of the best deals out there right now are happening when the buyer comes in with cash," said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president.

MARCH HOME SALES (% change from March 2009)
Los Angeles 6,747 +13.0%
Orange 2,652 +9.0%
Riverside 4,156 -5.7%
San Bernardino 2,955 +2.0%
Ventura 739 -4.8%

MARCH MEDIAN HOME PRICES (% change from March 2009)
Los Angeles $329,000 +9.7%
Orange $432,000 +12.2%
Riverside $198,000 +5.9%
San Bernardino $152,000 +1.3%
Ventura $375,000 +15.0%

Source: MDA DataQuick, DQNews.com

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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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