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December SoCal home sales down 12.5% from year ago: DataQuick

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Southern California homes sales spiked in December compared to November, but remain well below 2009 levels due to a sluggish job market, tight credit and few new home sales. San Diego-based data firm DataQuick said 19,528 new and resale homes and condos sold in Southern California in December, down 12.5% compared to December 2009, but up 20.5% from November. DataQuick's latest report covers Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties. “Ultra-low mortgage rates, coupled with lower prices, gave the market a boost this fall, helping to explain the above-average gain in closings between November and December," said John Walsh, president of the data firm. DataQuick said the average gain between the two months is 12.9%. Despite the gain, Southern California home sales hit the lowest number recorded in a December since 2007 when only 13,240 homes sold. New home sales hit the lowest record for a December ever recorded by DataQuick. New home sales for all of 2010 also hit a record low. Foreclosure resales accounted for 34.3% of the resale market in December, down from 35.2% in November and down from 29.6% one year ago. Foreclosure resales hit a low this year of 32.8% in June and had generally trended slightly higher until last month. The peak was in February 2009 at 56.7%, DataQuick reported. The median price for a SoCal home last month was $290,000, up 1% from $287,000 in November. In December 2009, the average price was $289,000, according to DataQuick. At the county level last month, the overall median sale price fell on a year-over-year basis in Los Angeles (down 2.7%), Orange (down 5.7%), San Bernardino (down 1.3%) and Ventura (down 1.4%) counties, while San Diego and Riverside counties recorded small gains of 0.9 % and 2%, respectively. With regard to upcoming home-buying activity in the area, Walsh said there's "potential for sales to perk up this spring if rates stay low and brighter economic news lifts consumer confidence." Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.

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