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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DataQuick on SoCal: March Home Sales down 14% Year-over-year, Conventional (Equity) Sales increase

by Calculated Risk on 4/15/2014 02:59:00 PM

From DataQuick: Southland Home Sales Stuck at 6-year Low; Median Price Rises to 6-Year High

Southern California home sales quickened last month compared with February, as they normally do, but remained far below average and at the lowest level for a March in six years. ... A total of 17,638 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was up 25.7 percent from 14,027 sales in February, and down 14.3 percent from 20,581 sales in March last year, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.
Sales during the month of March have ranged from a low of 12,808 in 2008 to a high of 37,030 in 2004. Last month’s sales were 26.9 percent below the average number of sales – 24,115 – for March since 1988. Sales haven’t been above average for any month in more than seven years.

“Southland home buying got off to a very slow start this year, with last month’s sales coming in at the second-lowest level for a March in nearly two decades. We see multiple reasons for this: The inventory of homes for sale remains thin in many markets. Investor purchases have fallen. The jump in home prices and mortgage rates over the past year has priced some people out of the market, while other would-be buyers struggle with credit hurdles. Also, some potential move-up buyers are holding back while they weigh whether to abandon a phenomenally low interest rate on their current mortgage in order to buy a different home,” said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage.

Foreclosure resales – homes foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 6.4 percent of the Southland resale market in March. That was down from a revised 6.7 percent the prior month and down from 13.8 percent a year earlier. In recent months the foreclosure resale rate has been the lowest since early 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 7.7 percent of Southland resales last month. That was down from a revised 9.3 percent the prior month and down from 18.7 percent a year earlier.

Absentee buyers – mostly investors and some second-home purchasers – bought 27.4 percent of the homes sold last month, down from 28.9 percent in February and down from 31.2 percent a year earlier.
emphasis added
Generally both distressed sales and investor buying is declining - and this is dragging down overall sales (plus inventory is still very low).   And even though total sales are down year-over-year, normal equity transactions are up 9% year-over-year.

It is important to recognize that declining existing home sales is NOT a negative indicator for the housing recovery.  The reason for the decline in overall existing home sales is fewer distressed sales and less investor buying. Those are positive trends!