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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

DataQuick: SoCal Home Sales Decline

by Calculated Risk on 9/15/2009 12:44:00 PM

From DataQuick: Southland home sales fall; median price edges up again

Home sales dipped in Southern California last month, the result of a thinning inventory of foreclosure properties and financial uncertainty among potential home buyers. ...

A total of 21,502 new and resale homes sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in August. That was down 10.8 percent from 24,104 in July, and up 11.0 percent from 19,366 in August 2008, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.

Last month was the 14th in a row with a year-over-year sales increase. The decline from July to August was unusual, given an increase is normal for the season. August sales in DataQuick’s statistics, which go back to 1988, range from a low of 16,379 in 1992 to a high of 39,562 in 2003. The average is 27,458.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty out there about prices, interest rates and the availability of mortgage money. Additionally, we don’t know if this drop in foreclosure resales is temporary. We’re hearing from public agencies and the banking industry that there’s still a lot of financial distress in the pipeline,” said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president.

Foreclosure resales accounted for 38.8 percent of August’s resales activity, down from 40.7 percent in July and down from 45.5 percent in August 2008. In February this year it peaked at 56.7 percent. Most of the relative decline is due to an increase in non-foreclosure resales.
Changes in the median do not necessarily correspond to changes in home values in the current, atypical sales environment. Adjusting for shifts in market mix, it now appears that over the past two years homes in older, more costly neighborhoods have come down in value by about half as much as homes in newer, more affordable neighborhoods. Prices also fell sharply in some lower-cost, older communities where the use of risky subprime loans was high, triggering relatively high foreclosure rates.

... a common form of financing used by first-time home buyers in more affordable neighborhoods remains near record levels. Government-insured, FHA mortgages made up 37.4 percent of all purchase loans in August, up from 37.0 percent in July and 27.1 percent in August last year.

... Foreclosure activity remains near record levels. Financing with multiple mortgages is low, down payment sizes are stable, and non-owner occupied buying is above-average in some markets
Here are a few key points:

  • Foreclosure inventory has declined, leading to fewer sales at the low end.

  • FHA buying is at record levels. And investor buying is above normal levels in many areas.

  • The decline in sales was "unusual" and suggests that the first time buyer frenzy might be starting to fade.