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Friday, May 20, 2022

Pace of Local Home Sales Slips Again

Pace of Local Home Sales Slips Again


Staff Reporter

L.A. County median home prices rose once again in March to $290,000, but the number of sales fell for the second consecutive month, according to preliminary estimates from DataQuick Information Systems.

“Sales counts may be plateauing a bit, but they’re plateauing at a very high number,” said DataQuick analyst John Karevoll, noting that signals of a market turn such as a sudden drop in entry-level buyers or a drop in standard, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have yet to appear. “It’s probably going to be the second strongest March of the last decade.”

Still, the leveling off of transactions could signal lower prices to come. With record low interest rates, many buyers jumped into the market during the past year or so, reducing the pool of prospective buyers, said Stephen Cauley, associate director at the Ziman Center for Real Estate at UCLA’s Anderson School.

“Think of it like car sales with zero percent financing,” said Cauley. “If someone was to buy a house, this was clearly the time to buy it.”

He said he wouldn’t be surprised if median sales prices remained flat or even fell 5 percent one year from now.

Last month’s median of $290,000 is up about 15 percent from March 2002. The number of single-family homes and condominiums sold in the county fell about 10 percent, to about 9,600, he said.

Home prices have increased steadily since the mid-1990s, although the month-to-month statistics have sometimes been choppy. In December, for example, median home prices fell by $2,000 from the like year-earlier period.

February’s 7,576 transactions set a two-year low, although the activity in both February and March was above 2001 levels. “Dropping volume could signal a problem, but not yet,” said Edward Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast.

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