Stability returns to housing market

septsales.jpgSeptember home sales and prices are down a bit from the previous month, according to Dataquick, but that's not such a bad thing. A calmer market, coupled with rising inventory, removes the panic buying that punctuated the earlier part of the year. It's great news for anyone having to finance a purchase; all-cash buyers, which often blow other bidders out of the water, accounted for 27.6 percent of all sales in September, down from an all-time peak of 36.9 percent in February. The median price for Southern California was $382,000, which is well below the peak of $505,000 in 2007, but up from the low point of $249,000 in April 2009. Prices have been steadily rising for the last year or two, in part because of the improving market for higher-priced properties. September sales in the $800.000+ range jumped 43.4 percent from a year earlier, while sales below $300,000 fell 25.3 percent. It's not so much lack of demand at the low range as the lack of product. From Dataquick press release:

"We've seen a fairly normal downshifting in the housing market this fall. Couple that with the rise in inventory, higher mortgage rates and the ongoing, gradual drop in purchases by investors and cash buyers and it's no wonder prices have leveled off in recent months. What's not clear is how well the market can weather the job losses related to the federal government shutdown and the blow to consumer confidence caused by fears of a default in the national debt. Those impacts would start to show up in data released over the next couple of months," said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

SEPTEMBER HOME SALES (% change from September 2012)
Los Angeles 6,496 +5.0%
Orange 2,916 +8.9%
Riverside 3,141 +7.6%
San Bernardino 2,358 +15.4%
Ventura 818 +0.2%
SoCal 19,112 +7.0%

SEPTEMBER MEDIAN PRICE (% change from September 2012)
Los Angeles $425,000 +25.0%
Orange $550,000 +22.2%
Riverside $269,000 +26.6%
San Bernardino $225,000 +32.4%
Ventura $445,000 +18.7%
SoCal $382,000 +21.3%

Source: 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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