Southern California's Housing Market Still Frozen: Report
Southern California's housing market, stuck in the deep freeze most of winter, has yet to thaw out as spring arrives. According to data released Tuesday by real estate data firm DataQuick Information Systems, the seasonal boost in sales between February and March was less than half its normal level -- and a record low to boot. The median sales price in SoCal also took another record nose dive during March, as well. A total of 12,808 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in March, DataQuick said. That was up 18.8 percent from 10,777 the previous month -- a bit of good news -- but down a dramatic 41.4 percent from 21,856 in March 2007. Over the past 20 years, sale volume in Southern California has risen by an average of 38 percent between February and March, according to DataQuick's statistics. Last month's 18.1 percent increase from February was the lowest on record, signaling that sellers anxiously waiting for a spring season selling bounce may have wait longer than they'd hoped. March was the seventh consecutive month in which sales have fallen to the lowest level on record for a given month, DataQuick said -- on average, March sales have been about twice as high as the level recorded for this year. Foreclosures, foreclosures, everywhere Foreclosure auctions dot much of the Southern California landscape these days -- and it's not surprising, really, given that more than one of three homes resold last month were subject to a foreclosure action at some point in the past twelve months. To put that number into historical perspective, consider that foreclosures represented less than 8 percent or resales just one year ago. Hard-hit Riverside County actually saw more than its fair share of foreclosure sales, according to the DataQuick report -- more than half of all resales were foreclosures during March. "We continue to believe a lot of people who could be buying or selling right now are opting to sit tight until they sense we've hit bottom," said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president. "Often what we're left with, especially in inland areas, are sales driven by foreclosure, or the threat of it." The median price paid for a SoCal home was $385,000 last month, the lowest since $380,000 in April 2004. In Orange County, median prices fell nearly 20 percent on an yearly comparison basis, settling at $506,000 during March; annual declines were steepest in San Bernardino County, however, which has seen prices fall more than 28 percent to a median of $265,000. For more information, visit http://www.dataquick.com.