The prospect of a near-term resurgence in Southern California’s housing market continued to wither last month as home sales fell to the lowest level for an April in three years. Prices trended sideways or down slightly, depending on location, as credit remained tight and distress sales and investor activity continued to dominate the market, a real estate information service reported.
A total of 18,344 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in April. That was down 5.5 percent from 19,412 in March, and down 9.2 percent from 20,205 in April 2010, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. April marked the 10th consecutive month in which Southland sales fell year-over-year.
On average, sales between March and April have increased 0.9 percent since 1988, when DataQuick's statistics begin. April sales have varied from a low of 15,303 in 1995 to a high of 37,905 in 2004. Last month’s sales count was 25.4 percent below the average April sales tally of 24,606. The last time April sales were lower was in April 2008, when 15,615 homes sold.
The 1,024 sales of newly built homes last month marked a 1.9 percent gain from a year earlier, but it was still the Southland’s second-slowest April for new-home sales since at least 1988.
The median price paid for all new and resale Southland houses and condos purchased last month was $280,000, down 0.2 percent from $280,500 in March, and down 1.8 percent from $285,000 in April 2010. The median has declined year-over-year for two consecutive months, and hasn’t posted an annual increase since last December, when it rose 0.3 percent from a year earlier.
The median’s low point for the current real estate cycle was $247,000 in April 2009, while the high point was $505,000 in mid 2007. The peak-to-trough drop was due to a decline in home values as well as a shift in sales toward low-cost homes, especially inland foreclosures.
“The market's in a rut at a time it would normally be building momentum. Two of the more likely forces that could get it going again are more robust job growth and home price reductions. At the moment, the latter appears to be the more likely short-term catalyst,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.
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