As the rest of the nation seems to be on the brink of a double dip in home sales, people were feeling timid too in Los Angeles County about buying homes in March.
New and existing house sales fell 12 percent to 4,258 units, compared with the same month last year. Condo sales remained relatively flat, falling nearly 2 percent to 1,746, according to HomeData of Hicksville, N.Y.
Even though interest rates are at historic lows, the median price for a home sold during the month fell 3 percent to $330,000 compared with a year earlier.
The slowdown is likely due to a declining supply of desirable homes and a drop in the number of people who can come up with a 20 percent down payment, local analysts said.
“People have less money for down payments and that’s the real key, more than the interest rate,” said Richard Green, chairman of USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. “Lots of people can’t take advantage of (the low prices), because they can’t make the down payment.”
The first-time federal homebuyer tax credit that expired last year also pushed forward a number of home sales, reducing the number of people in the market today.
“All of that together with a feeling that if I wait, prices will slide is a big hurdle,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for California Association of Realtors.
Still, as would be expected, sales rose since February as the summer peak home-buying season approached. But the rise was very slight at only 1 percent, according to adjusted sales data. Prices also rose a modest $5,000 on a month-over-month basis.
The locations of available homes are also impacting the sales rate. Homes in desirable neighborhoods are selling well, whereas properties in other areas have remained on the market longer, analysts said.
For example, median home prices rose last month in San Marino, and much of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. Santa Monica’s 90402 ZIP code boasted the county’s most expensive median home price at nearly $2.2 million
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