Southland home sales sink again

first_imgNevertheless, sales in the region fell an annual 29percent as 19,269 new and previously owned houses and condominiums changed owners. That’s the lowest for any April since 1995, when 15,303 homes sold, the lowest in DataQuick’s statistics, which date back to 1988. The strongest April was just three years ago, when 37,905 homes sold. The monthly average is 25,796 sales. The steepest sales drops came in Riverside County, down 45.1percent to 2,987 transactions, and San Bernardino County, down 46.7percent to 2,049 transactions. In Riverside, the median price fell 1percent to $409,000, and in San Bernardino it gained 2.8percent to $370,000. A sales slide in these two counties has been expected because the Inland Empire was the last market to catch the upside of the last bull market, the company said. “What we’re in for now is the somewhat painful endgame of that cycle,” DataQuick President Marshall Prentice said. In L.A. County, sales fell 22.2percent to 7,225 transactions, and in Ventura County they declined 11.7percent to 890 transactions. That’s the fewest sales for Los Angeles since 7,125 in April 1993 and the fewest for Ventura since 692 in April1995, DataQuick said. In Ventura, the median price slipped 2.4percent to $572,000. Prentice said the slowdown can be attributed to a standoff between buyers and sellers; a rush to buy during the frenzy that evaporated at the end of 2005, thus leaving weaker demand today; and tighter lending standards as a result of the subprime market woes. “There may be buyers out there who would like to buy and who would have been able to buy a year or two ago, and the subprime (problem) is part of that,” DataQuick analyst John Karevoll said. That’s because it’s easier for lenders to make home loans in a rising price climate, where equity in the home can be expected to increase, rather than now, when the value of the home could very well fall, he said. Last month, buyers committed to a monthly mortgage payment of $2,356, up from $2,326 the previous month and up from $2,310 a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, current payments are 9.3percent above typical payments in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. And they are 4.1percent below the current cycle’s peak in June. Indications of market distress are mixed. Adjustable-rate financing has fallen significantly, and, while foreclosure activity is rising, it’s still within the normal range in most areas. But trouble is increasing in the Inland Empire, DataQuick said. Summer is not likely to bring much relief on the sales side, either. “I think it’s going to be more of the same. Slow sales and relatively level prices. April is a good indicator of upcoming activity,” Karevoll said. [email protected] (818) 713-3743 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Home sales across Southern California sank to a 12-year low for the month of April on sharp declines in two affordable markets, an industry tracker said Tuesday. But the median price in the six-county region increased an annual 6.1percent to $505,000, unchanged from the previous month and still a record, La Jolla-based DataQuick Information Systems said. And in the big L.A. County market, the median increased an annual 5.9percent to $540,000, also unchanged from March’s record. The median price, the point at which half the homes cost more and half less, did fall from year-ago levels in four counties, but the declines only ranged from 0.2percent in Orange County to 3percent in San Diego County. “We haven’t seen horrendous price declines. If we had, that would have spooked a lot of people. The fact that prices are still going up gives people a little bit of confidence,” said Jack Kyser, vice president and chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. last_img read more