Thursday, September 12, 2013
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Southern California posted its strongest home sales for August in seven years as rising prices lured more sellers off the sidelines, a research firm said Thursday.
Southern California posted its strongest home sales for August in seven years as rising prices lured more sellers off the sidelines, a research firm said Thursday.
There were 23,057 new and existing houses and condominiums sold in the six-county region, up 2.8 percent from 22,438 homes sold in August 2012, DataQuick said. The increase would have been much higher without a steep drop in sales of low-priced homes.
Sales of homes between $300,000 and $800,000 skyrocketed 31.4 percent and sales of homes above $800,000 surged 48 percent.
The median sales price was $385,000, up 25 percent from $309,000 in August 2012. It matched a five-year high and marked the 13th straight month of annual double-digit gains.
"Sellers have seen an amazing price jump from just a year ago, allowing many to finally sell at a profit," said John Walsh, president of San Diego-based DataQuick.
Robust sales reflect years of pent-up demand and the fact that fewer homeowners owe more money than their homes are worth, said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage. Some sellers had been "trapped" in their homes for years because they would have had to take a loss.
CoreLogic Inc., a real-estate data firm, this week reported a sharp drop in the percentage of Southern California homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth, reflecting a national trend. In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, 11.4 percent of mortgaged homes were "underwater" at the end of June, down from 16.2 percent three months earlier. There were similar declines in other markets, with Orange County posting one of the nation's lowest percentages of underwater homes at 6.7 percent.
DataQuick said sales remained weak for lower-priced homes because many homeowners were still underwater and banks were less inclined to foreclose on them. Sales of homes below $300,000 slid 25 percent from last year.
Homes that were foreclosed upon during the previous year accounted for only 7.1 of existing home sales, down from 19.2 percent last year and 56.7 percent in February 2009, DataQuick said.
Fewer buyers paid in cash, a welcome development for others who found themselves at a disadvantage in bidding wars. DataQuick said cash buyers accounted for 27.6 percent of home sales last month, down from 32.3 percent a year earlier and 36.9 percent in February, the highest level since the company began keeping track in 1988.