Tuesday, January 15, 2013

DataQuick: SoCal Home Sales highest for December in Three Years

by Bill McBride on 1/15/2013 01:58:00 PM

This is another key market that I've been following closely. According to DataQuick, the "move-up market" is starting to "wake up". From DataQuick: Southland Closes 2012 With Higher Sales and Prices

Southern California's housing market ended 2012 with the highest December home sales in three years, the result of robust investment activity, a record level of cash buyers and more sales gains in move-up markets. ... A total of 20,274 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was up 5.1 percent from 19,285 sales in November, and up 5.3 percent from 19,247 sales in December 2011, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

A rise in sales from November to December is normal for the season. Last month’s sales were the highest for the month of December since 22,328 homes sold in December 2009, though they were 17.2 percent below the December average of 24,488 sales since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin. The low for December sales was 13,240 in 2007, while the high was 36,865 in 2003.
...
“Last year should also be remembered as the year the move-up market awoke. If these upward trends hold, which requires a sustained economic recovery, we should eventually see more inventory hit the market. More would-be sellers will be satisfied with what their homes can fetch, and fewer people will owe more than their homes are worth, freeing them up to move. The rise in inventory would at least tame price appreciation.” [said John Walsh, DataQuick president]

Last month foreclosure resales – properties foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 14.8 percent of the Southland resale market. That was down from 15.4 percent the month before and 32.4 percent a year earlier. Last month’s level was the lowest since foreclosure resales were 13.6 percent of the resale market in September 2007. In the current cycle, foreclosure resales 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 25.6 percent of Southland resales last month. That was down slightly from an estimated 26.5 percent the month before and 26.0 percent a year earlier. However, the number (rather than percentage) of short sales last month was up 7.4 percent from December 2011.
The median price is being impacted by the mix, with fewer low end distressed sales pushing up the median. This is why I focus on the repeat sales indexes.

The percent distressed is still high, but falling with 40.4% distressed. Note the shift from foreclosures to short sales (almost twice as many short sales as foreclosures in December).

The NAR is scheduled to report December existing home sales and inventory next week on Tuesday, January 22nd.

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