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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

DataQuick: SoCal Home Sales up slightly in February

by Calculated Risk on 3/16/2010 03:58:00 PM

From DataQuick: Southern California median price and sales volume up

Note: Ignore the median price. The repeat sales indexes from Case-Shiller and LoanPerformance are better measures. The median is impacted by the mix.

Southern California home sales in February were above year-ago levels for the 20th month in a row as buyers continued to snap up bargain properties with government-backed mortgages and tax incentives. ....

A total of 15,359 new and resale homes sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was virtually unchanged from 15,361 in January, and up 0.8 percent from 15,231 in February 2009, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.

[CR Note: this is the second month in a row the YoY increase was razor thin.]

The February sales average is 17,983 going back to 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin. The sales distribution remains tilted toward lower-cost distressed homes, although not as steeply as most of last year.
Foreclosure resales accounted for 42.3 percent of the resale market last month, up from 42.1 percent in January, and down from 56.7 percent a year ago, which was the all-time high.

Government-insured FHA loans, a popular choice among first-time buyers, accounted for 38.5 percent of all home purchase loans in February.

Absentee buyers – mostly investors and some second-home purchasers – bought 18.9 percent of the homes sold in February. Buyers who appeared to have paid all cash – meaning there was no indication that a corresponding purchase loan was recorded – accounted for 29.3 percent of February sales. In January it was a revised 29.7 percent – an all-time high. The 22-year monthly average for Southland homes purchased with cash is 13.8 percent.
DataQuick doesn't list the percentage of short sales, but the total distressed sales is probably over 50%. Also the 38.5% of buyers using FHA insured loans is way above normal levels.

When the first time homebuyer tax credit ends, I expect the percent of FHA insured loans to decline sharply - and probably for total sales to decline. The tax credit associated buying will end in April, but the sales are counted when escrow closes - and that could be in May or June.