Inland Foreclosure Sales Drive Calif. Housing: Report
If December's data is any indication, investors purchasing distressed properties in the inland areas within California now make up the lion's share of Southern California's real estate market, while new home sales elsewhere continued to tank and the jumbo home loan market remained in the deep freeze. A total of 19,926 new and resale homes sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month, according to MDA DataQuick, a real estate information service. That was up 19.2 percent from 16,720 for November, and up 50.5 percent from 13,240 for December 2007. Driving that jump? Foreclosures. Regionally, foreclosure resales accounted for 55.7 percent of December's resales activity, DataQuick said, up from 54.7 percent in November, and up from 24.3 percent in December 2007. The number of resale houses sold in Riverside County almost tripled on a year-over-year basis, as a result, from 1,238 in December 2007 to 3,617 last month. Just under 70 percent of Riverside County resales were foreclosure homes. The trend is similar in San Bernardino County, as well; in contrast, home sales in Southland metro and coastal prestige markets are down from a year ago. Also hurting are newly-built homes, which are selling at some of the lowest totals ever recorded in the state. A total of 1,813 newly-built homes were sold in December, easily the lowest number for that month in DataQuick's statistics. The December average since 1988 is 4,926; and by way of contrast, in December 2005 a total of 8,723 new homes were sold. "The builders are in a holding pattern, staying alive until the market recovers. Mortgage interest rates last month were near record lows. Of course, that doesn't mean much if the money isn't actually being lent. It does look like the spigot is being opened a little bit, at least for low-cost home purchases," said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president. The most active lenders to Southland home buyers right now are Countrywide, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. MDA DataQuick will report more extensively on the home financing market next month, Walsh said. The median price paid for a Southland home was $278,000 last month. That was down 2.5 percent from $285,000 for November, and down 34.6 percent from $425,000 for December a year ago. The median reached $505,000 in mid 2007. But keep in mind that with so many of the resales taking place inland in lower-cost and hard-hit foreclosure markets, average prices are likely skewed towards that particular market. (Trust me, if I could find a nice 5-bedroom single-family detached in Huntington Beach, Calif. for $278,000, I'd be moving. Now.) Write to Paul Jackson at email@example.com.