Home sales mish-mash

Don't expect much clarity from the April numbers - there are just too many crosscurrents involving foreclosure filings and state and federal tax credit programs. The median price of an L.A. County home was $329,500, according to Dataquick, virtually unchanged from the previous month and up almost 10 percent from a year earlier. Sales were up slightly from March and 4.1 percent from a year earlier. In Riverside and San Bernardino, year-over year sales were down, perhaps reflecting the shrinking inventory of foreclosed properties in the Inland Empire. It's possible that some sales were delayed so that buyers could take advantage of the state's new tax credit program, which took effect in early May. It's also possible that other sales were expedited to take advantage of the federal home buyer tax credit program, which expired at the end of April. From the Dataquick press release:

"The market's still taking baby steps on a long road to recovery, trying to find its footing. It's unclear which of today's sales characteristics are part of a new reality, and which are still temporary turbulence. The mortgage market, especially for larger home loans, is definitely dysfunctional. Obviously things would be different if the job picture were brighter," said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president.

One positive sign: the higher-end market appears to be picking up. Zip codes in the top one-third of the Socal housing market accounted for 28.6 percent of sales last month, compared with 23.2 percent a year ago. Going back the past decade, the monthly average has been 33.4 percent. But that's pretty incremental - without increases in jumbo mortgages (loans above 417K), the overall market will continue to be hit and miss. Meanwhile, the flipping of home is picking up, but it's a small slice of the overall pie.

APRIL HOME SALES (% change from April 2009)
Los Angeles 6,688 +4.1%
Orange 2,669 +11.6%
Riverside 4,117 -7.9%
San Bernardino 2,744 -12.3%
San Diego 3,292 -2.5%
Ventura 789 +9.0%

APRIL MEDIAN HOME PRICES (% change from April 2009)
Los Angeles $329,500 +9.8%
Orange $430,000 +13.2%
Riverside $195,000 +8.3%
San Bernardino $150,000 8.3%
San Diego $325,250 +12.2%
Ventura $382,000 +12.4%

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
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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