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Southern California’s median sale price rose year-over-year in April for the first time in 16 months, reflecting stronger, affordability-driven demand and a slimmer inventory of homes for sale – especially low-cost foreclosures. Last month’s sales were modestly higher than a year ago, thanks to significant gains in the coastal counties, but remained well below average, a real estate information service reported.
The median price paid for a Southland home last month was $290,000, up 3.6 percent from $280,000 in both March this year as well as April 2011, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.
Last month’s median was the highest since the median was also $290,000 in December 2010. The year-over-year gain in the April median was also the first since December 2010, when the median rose a scant 0.3 percent.
Although price pressures have no doubt formed in some areas, the year-over-year increase in the April median price also reflects two other trends: the decline in the share of sales that are foreclosed properties, which tend to sell at a discount and be concentrated in lower-cost areas, and a shift toward a greater portion of sales this April in the higher-cost coastal markets. In April last year, for example, sales in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura counties represented 68.0 percent of the region’s sales, compared with 71.5 percent last month.
April’s $290,000 Southland median was 17.4 percent above the low point for the current real estate cycle – $247,000 in April 2009 – and 42.6 percent below the $505,000 peak in mid 2007. The peak-to-trough drop was due to a decline in home values as well as a shift in sales toward lower-cost homes, especially inland foreclosures.
The number of homes that sold for less than $200,000 in April fell 4.7 percent from a year earlier, while the number that sold for between $200,000 and $400,000 rose 5.5 percent. Sales between $300,000 and $800,000 – a range that would include many move-up buyers – increased 3.5 percent year-over-year. The number of sales above $800,000 fell 3.0 percent from a year ago.
Distressed sales – the combination of foreclosure resales and “short” sales – made up about 47 percent of last month’s resale market. That was the lowest level since the figure was 45.1 percent in April 2008.
Foreclosure resales – properties foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 28.6 percent of the resale market last month, down from 31.5 percent in March and down from 33.8 percent a year earlier. Last month’s figure was the lowest since foreclosure resales were also 28.6 percent of the resale market in January 2008. In the current cycle, the figure hit a high of 56.7 percent in February 2009.
Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – made up an estimated 18.4 percent of Southland resales last month. That compares with 18.9 percent the month before and 17.3 percent a year earlier.
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