Thursday, March 13, 2008

February numbers are in.

DataQuick has released the sales numbers for Feb. Keeping with the current trend, we have set another record for the lowest sales totals.

here's what they have to say,

Southern California home sales limped along last month at the slowest pace ever for a February, the result of a market crippled by uncertainty and credit constraints. The median sale price dropped by a record 17.6 percent from a year ago, a real estate information service reported. A total of 10,777 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in February. That was up 8 percent from 9,983 the previous month but down 39 percent from 17,680 in February last year.

Last month's sales total was the second-lowest for any month in DataQuick's statistics, which go back to 1988. The prior month's total of 9,983 was the lowest ever. Since September, sales each month have been a record low for that particular month.

Of the homes that resold in February, about one-third, 33.5 percent, had been foreclosed on at some point since January 2007. A year earlier the figure was 3.5 percent. At the county level, the percent of homes resold in February that had been foreclosed on since January 2007 ranged from 25.3 percent in Orange County to 48.1 percent in Riverside County.

"Sales remained extraordinarily low, and a significant portion of what did sell was in areas beset by foreclosure activity. That's where sellers are the most motivated and price cuts are largest. Mainly it's in the inland markets, often in newer suburbs, where prices got pumped up artificially with the sort of crazy loans that no longer exist," said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

Those numbers are pathetic. In Riverside they sold 30% less homes this year in Feb and there was an extra day this year. The median price is down 21% from last Feb and down about 30% from the peak median in July 2006. Next month should show a decent sales increase over this month but that's normal. Sales usually increase through May or June. But those numbers will probably be far below last years numbers. Also keep in mind that last years numbers were way down from 2006 sales numbers. Feb 2007 sales were down 32% from Feb 2006.

February Foreclosures

Inland Southern California continued to be a hotbed of foreclosure activity last month, with the number of homes repossessed by lenders increasing nearly 21-fold in Riverside County and 15-fold in San Bernardino County over a year ago.

Riverside County saw 6,103 homes go into all stages of foreclosure -- defaults, bank repossessions, and trustee auctions -- which was an increase of 92 percent over February 2007. In San Bernardino County, 4,963 homes were involved in some kind of foreclosure activity last month, more than double the number a year earlier.

The most dramatic year-to-year increase was in the number of homes repossessed by lenders because the owners could not find a way out of their financial trouble by refinancing, selling the property for enough to cover the mortgage, or getting the lender to accept a "short sale" for less than what they owed.

Bank repossessions in Riverside County soared to 1,346 last month, up from 65 in February 2007. There were 1,235 repossessions in San Bernardino County, compared to 84 a year earlier.
"The bank repossessions are off the charts because properties going into foreclosure have no equity or are worth less than their mortgages," said RealtyTrac Vice President of Marketing Rick Sharga.

Analysts said they do not expect housing to rebound until distressed properties, including bank repossessions and short sales, are gone.

"You have to clear the deadwood out," said Alan Nevin, chief economist for the California Building Industry Association.

"Some say it could be 2009 before we see some recovery in the housing market," said Bob Visini, spokesman for First American Loan Performance.

Chapman University economist Esmael Adibi said he expects foreclosures will continue at a high rate, not just because of subprime mortgages adjusting but also because of defaults on prime mortgages, such as those that allowed people to start with below-market teaser rates or to make monthly payments that did not cover their principal or interest.

Inland economist John Husing said he expects that this year, foreclosures will drive down the Inland economy. "2008 will likely be the worst year in the 44 years I have studied the Inland Empire because of the housing market," Husing said.

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