SoCal Median Home Price Slips to Early 2002 Levels

May 19, 2009 No Comments »

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The Southern California median sales price slipped for the first time this year after holding steady for the first three months of 2009, DataQuick reported today.

The median price paid for a Southland home was $247,000, down 1.2 percent from $250,000 in March, and well below the $385,000 median seen a year earlier.

The median is now at its lowest point since February 2002, and 51.1 percent below the $505,000 peak seen in the spring and summer of 2007.

However, most of today’s home sales involve discounted foreclosures, while very few high-end homes are selling, so the median’s decline has been exaggerated.

“In many markets we’ve seen signs you’d expect to see not long before prices would normally stabilize: robust investor and first-time-buyer activity, 10-plus months of year-over-year sales gains, and less price erosion, if any,” said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president, in a release.

“The problem is that we still face two big threats to price stability: layoffs, which can cause foreclosures across the home price spectrum, and possibly a new round of foreclosures triggered by defaults on ‘option ARM’ and ‘stated income’ loans used in mid-to high-end markets.

A total of 20,514 new and resale houses and condo were sold last month in six Southland counties, up 5.2 percent from March and 31.4 percent from a year ago.

Foreclosure sales accounted for 53.6 percent of resales, the seventh consecutive month in which post-foreclosure properties made up more than half of resale activity.

Meanwhile, builders sold the lowest number of newly constructed homes last month for an April since at least 1988.

Sales were at or near record highs for an April in hard-hit inland communities like Palmdale, Lancaster, and Victorville, while high-end coastal communities’ sales remained at or near record lows.

Last month, jumbo loan financing accounted for just 10.9 percent of sales, while FHA loans financed a near-record 39.1 percent of home purchases.

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