Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DataQuick: SoCal Home Sales Increase

by Calculated Risk on 6/17/2009 02:10:00 PM

From DataQuick: Southland median sale price inches up for first time since ‘07

Southern California home sales rose for the 11th consecutive month in May as sales of $500,000-plus homes started to come back. The median price paid increased slightly from the prior month for the first time since July 2007, the result of a shift in market activity where sales of deeply discounted foreclosures waned and mid- to high-end purchases rose, a real estate information service reported.
emphasis added
Yesterday I noted that Cramer was fooled by the rise in median prices (as reported by NAR). DataQuick makes this clear that the increase was because of a slight change in mix. Prices are still falling.
A total of 20,775 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties last month. That was up 1.3 percent from 20,514 in April and up 22.8 percent from 16,917 a year ago, according to San Diego-based MDA DataQuick.

Sales have increased year-over-year for 11 consecutive months.

May’s sales were the highest for that month since May 2006, when 30,303 homes sold, but were 21.2 percent below the average May sales total since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin.

Foreclosure resales – homes sold in May that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 50.2 percent of all Southland resales. That was down from 53.5 percent in April and from a peak of 56.7 percent in February. May’s figure was the lowest since foreclosure resales were 50.9 percent of all resales last October.

The remarkably sharp declines in the Southland’s median sale price over the past year have been exacerbated by a shift toward an above-average number of sales occurring in lower-cost inland markets rife with discounted foreclosures. However, the number of homes lost to foreclosure declined over the winter, leaving fewer for bargain hunters to scoop up this spring. Meantime, sales have begun to rise a bit in many mid- to high-end markets, which could be due at least in part to sellers dropping their asking prices.

Last month 83 percent of the existing Southland houses sold were purchased for less than $500,000, compared with 84.8 percent in April. Conversely, sales $500,000 and above rose from 15.2 percent of sales in April to 17 percent in May. The last time the $500,000-plus market made up more than 17 percent of all sales was last October, when they were 19.9 percent of sales.
“We appear to be in the early stages of the market gradually tilting back toward a more normal balance of sales across the home price spectrum. As more sellers get realistic, more buyers get off the fence and more lenders offer reasonable terms for high-end purchase financing, we’ll see a more normal share of sales in the more established, higher-cost areas that have been nearly comatose,” said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president.

Absentee buyers, including investors who will have their property tax bills sent to a different address, bought 19.4 percent of the Southland homes sold last month. That’s up from 16.9 percent a year ago and 18.6 percent in April. The monthly average since 2000: 15 percent.
Foreclosure activity remains near record levels ...