Southern California home sales, prices remain sluggish: DataQuick
New and resale home sales fell 6.4% in Southern California during February on a year-over-year basis, DataQuick Information Systems said Tuesday. The La Jolla, Calif.-based research firm said the drop in sales is partly seasonal but also tied to a lack of security among potential homebuyers. Investors paying cash dived back into the Southern California real estate market last month, but their eagerness to acquire real estate on the cheap could not make up for those potential buyers waiting "for a sign values have bottomed, job security has improved or credit has loosened," DataQuick said. For the Southern California area — which includes Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange Counties — 14,369 homes were sold in February, down from 15,359 a year earlier. Home sales in the region last month reached the lowest level since February 2008, when 10,777 homes were sold. With builders struggling to compete with existing home sale prices, only 847 new homes sold in February, the second-lowest sales figure on record for the month of February in the region. Foreclosures nearly dominated the market last month, with DataQuick noting that foreclosure resales made up 37.1% of California's February resale statistics. "This spring we’ll see an infusion into the market of more traditional buyers, who aren’t necessarily purchasing with an investor mindset," said John Walsh, president of DataQuick. "If the stars line up right – low prices, low mortgage rates, available credit, higher job growth and higher consumer confidence – we could see sales shoot back up to more normal levels. There’s pent-up demand out there. Lots of people have been waiting for the right time to buy. But they’ve got to feel more confident in their jobs, they’ve got to qualify for a loan and, for some, they need to be convinced prices are at or near bottom. One group will still be stuck on the sidelines, though: Those who owe significantly more on their mortgages than their homes are worth." Write to Kerri Panchuk.