Here's the meat of the report.
Southland home sales rose slightly in October compared with a year earlier but were still nearly 30 percent below the long-term average. The region’s median sale price dipped to its lowest level since January as activity above $500,000 fell sharply, distressed property sales rose slightly and mortgage availability worsened, a real estate information service reported.
A total of 16,829 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in October. That was down 7.3 percent from 18,149 in September and up 0.5 percent from 16,744 in October 2010, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.
A drop in sales between September and October is not unusual, but last month’s decline was larger than the average change – a decline of 0.7 percent – between those months since 1988, when DataQuick's statistics begin.October sales have varied from a low of 12,913 in 2007 to a high of 37,642 in 2003. Last month’s sales were 29.3 percent below the October average of 23,819 transactions since 1988
“For a few months now, lower prices and amazingly low mortgage rates have kept resale activity slightly ahead of last year. Of course, that’s not saying a lot when you consider sales were 25 to 30 percent below average. The market continues to struggle with a difficult lending environment, uncertainty among potential buyers, underwater homeowners who can’t move up, and a weak job market. The lower conforming loan limits implemented last month help explain the relatively sharp drop in mid- to high-end sales during October. Now we’ll have to see if the private loan market can fill the void,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.
The conforming loan limits, which were reduced Oct. 1, vary by county. In Los Angeles and Orange counties, for example, the limit for FHA loans and mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was lowered from $729,750 to $625,500. Home sales in those two counties that had purchase loans between $625,501 and $729,750 – the band eliminated by the lower limit – dropped to 102, down 71 percent from 350 sales in September and down 71.5 percent from 358 sales a year earlier.
The typical monthly mortgage payment that Southland buyers committed themselves to paying was $1,040 last month, down from $1,084 in September and $1,111 in October 2010. Adjusted for inflation, current payments are 55.4 percent below typical payments in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. They are 63.4 percent below the current cycle’s peak in July 2007.
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