Southern California home sales eked out a modest gain in January compared with a year earlier but fell sharply – as they normally do – from December, MDA DataQuick reports.
A total of 15,361 new and resale homes closed escrow last month in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties. That was down 31.2% from December's 22,328, but up 0.9% from 15,227 in January 2009.Â Â Â Â
On average, sales have fallen 28.4% between December and January since 1988, when DataQuick's statistics begin.
January's 15,361 sales mark the highest total for that month since 18,128 sales in January 2007. However, last month's tally was 14.4% below the average number of sales for a January – 17,938 – since 1988.
Last month, the sales pattern shifted a bit, MDA DataQuick says, with a greater portion of transactions involving distressed properties and lower-cost inland homes. Meanwhile, sales in many pricier areas lost some of the steam they had built in recent months, though high-end sales still outpaced the level seen one year ago.
Foreclosure resales – houses and condos sold in January that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – made up 42.1% of all Southland resales – up from 39.6% in December but down from 56.4% in January 2009. Foreclosure resales hit a high of 56.7% last February, then tapered or leveled off month-to-month until they rose slightly in December, and then again last month.
"The January stats underscore just how atypical this market remains," says John Walsh, DataQuick president. "A huge chunk of what's selling is still distressed. Investors and first-time buyers continue to dominate many areas, while the move-up market has yet to kick in. For many, the financing to buy high-end homes remains difficult, if not impossible, to obtain."
Last month offered no signs of improvement in the jumbo-mortgage market, which fuels sales in the higher-cost coastal areas. Mortgages above $417,000 – formerly the definition of a jumbo loan – accounted for 14.2% of all home-purchase loans – down from a 13-month high of 16.7% in December 2009. Such jumbo loans made up nearly 40% of purchase loans before the August 2007 credit crunch.
SOURCE: MDA DataQuick