Category Archives: Home Sales

Home prices in SoCal reach bubble-era highs

By: Andrew Khouri

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

October 24, 2017

Southern California home prices in September tied an all-time high, as the white-hot real estate market continued to surge and raise concerns over housing affordability.


The median price for the six-county region soared nearly 10% from a year earlier, to $505,000, data firm CoreLogic said Tuesday. That matches a price level reached in 2007 before the housing bubble burst and the economy cratered.

In some corners of the Southland, home prices have already risen past their peaks.
In Los Angeles County, the median last month was $575,000, up 9.5% from a year earlier and $25,000 higher than its 2007 peak.

In Orange County, September’s median was $710,000, up nearly 11% from a year earlier and $65,000 from the 2007 height.

Economists have said today’s upswing is more sustainable, driven not by risky lending but by an improving economy, historically low mortgage rates and a shortage of homes for sale. Adjusted for inflation, prices in all counties are under their 2007 peaks; the Southern California median is about 13% below its peak.

Even so, the rising cost of housing is increasingly sparking worries across the state.
A UC Berkeley poll this year found 56% of voters considered moving to find a more affordable home, with a quarter saying they’d likely leave California to do so.

Business groups say employers are having difficulty recruiting workers from outside the state, which some economists cite as one reason job growth has slowed this year.

The surge in home prices isn’t limited to California. Values are up nationwide as the economy expands. But affordability is a far greater problem here, with even lower-cost areas commanding a significant down payment. In Riverside County last month, the median hit $360,000, up 7.5% from a year earlier. In San Bernardino County, prices climbed 8.7%, to $325,000.

Although California has long been more expensive than the nation, research from the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office shows the gap is growing.

Economists generally agree that’s because developers for decades have built too few homes for population and job growth. Experts have cited a variety of reasons for the slow pace of construction, with neighborhood opposition and tight environmental regulations among the major factors.

To help address that problem, Gov. Jerry Brown this year signed a handful of housing-related bills, including ones that would ease some development restrictions and raise money for below-market housing.

However, housing groups and state officials noted the proposals were modest compared with the scope of the housing shortage, and hardly a cure.

L.A. County’s hottest ZIP Codes . . . . including Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Playa del Rey!

LAtimes_Business

By Andrew Khouri

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2016

If you were a seller, the Southern California housing market was a good one last year.

The economy improved. Sales jumped after a lethargic 2014. And prices climbed even higher, making an already expensive region even more so. By the end of November, the median home price for the six-county market was $438,000, up 6.8% from the same month a year earlier, according to the data from CoreLogic.

Still, the real estate frenzy cooled through late summer and fall. To what extent the slowdown could be blamed on the typical seasonality of home sales or to the price hikes that have made housing increasingly unaffordable is unclear. A better picture of the market’s health should emerge during the busy spring buying season.

Economists generally expect further improvement in the market, though they predict that the price increases will slow as fewer families are able to buy into it — a trend that started in 2013.
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Home Sales Post Gains

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September Purchases in Southland rise 1.2% as property values grow at slower pace.

By Tim Logan October 14, 2014 Los Angeles Times Business Section

Southern California’s housing market is starting to pick up the pace.

Home sales in the six-county Southland grew for the first time in a year in September as prices moderated from last year’s torrid gains, according to figures out Monday.

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The data are the latest sign of a housing market that’s reaching equilibrium after years of big swings, economists say.

Higher prices have pushed many investors and cash buyers out of the market, while still-low interest rates and an improving economy are luring more so-called regular buyers. And while prices aren’t climbing at the 20%-plus pace of last year, they’re still rising enough to keep sellers interested in selling.

quote_1“It seems like we’re heading toward more of a balance,” said Mark Gonzales, an agent with Redfin in West Los Angeles. “As long as we can get pricing right in line with people’s expectations, we’re in balance.”

That balance helped drive the number of sales across the region up 1.2% compared with a year ago, according to San Diego-based CoreLogic DataQuick. It’s a modest bump, but the first growth of any kind since September 2013, and a big swing from the 18% slide CoreLogic recorded in August.

Sales growth was strongest in Los Angeles and Orange counties, instead of in less-expensive markets farther east. And prices actually fell a bit, with the region’s median slipping to $413,000 from its post-crash high of $420,000 in August. Compared with a year ago, the median price is up 8.1%, and September was the first month in two years that none of the six counties CoreLogic tracks notched a double-digit annual gain.

The market right now has something to offer both buyers and sellers, said CoreLogic analyst Andrew LePage.

“There are still upward forces on home prices: Jobs are being created and families started at a time when the supply of homes for sale … remains relatively low,” he said. “Today’s home shoppers are more likely to find a less-crowded market with fewer intense multiple-offer situations and more serious, realistic buyers.”

It’s unclear, though, how long this equilibrium will last.

The California Assn. of Realtors last week forecast that price gains will keep slowing in 2015, and that sales will increase — after falling in 2014 — as buyers have a better chance to catch up to the new higher price points. But in a market in which many buyers struggle to afford a house, the prospect of higher interest rates is a constant threat, said the trade group’s chief executive, Joel Singer.

“Any increase is going to have a substantial effect on the number of sales,” Singer told a roomful of agents last week at the association’s annual convention in Anaheim.

Right now, though, rates are as low as they’ve been all year. The job market is improving. Even gasoline prices are down, which is putting would-be buyers in a better mood, said Syd Leibovitch, president of Rodeo Realty. His firm, one of the largest brokerages in Southern California, is starting to see both prices and sales pick up again for deals that will close later this fall.

“It was really unexpected,” he said. “August was a slower month. It seemed like homes were starting to sit and we were going into a more normalized market. Somewhere around mid-September it picked back up again. We started getting more multiple-offer situations.”

Gonzales has been seeing things quicken too. Calls and visits to Redfin’s website by prospective buyers were up 50% in September, and those house hunters are now out shopping.
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“They were frustrated with the way the market was going. A lot of them took a break,” he said. “Now it’s a prime time to come back in.”

And as they do, the pace of home sales should pick up even more speed, analysts said.