L.A. Home Prices Stay Flat as Sales Inch Up in July


Home prices in Los Angeles County held steady in July for the fourth consecutive month, as sales began creeping back from a dip early in the summer.

The median price of a home remained at $350,000, its high point since the market began recovering in spring 2009. Meanwhile, home sales rose 3 percent on a year-over-year basis to 4,498 units, according to data provided by HomeData of Hicksville, N.Y.

Year-over-year sales had dropped in June due largely, analysts said, to the expiration of an $8,000 federal tax credit requiring buyers to enter escrow by April 30.

The new figures suggest that the housing market, at least in the county, may be more robust than some economists believe. A survey in July of economists conducted by MacroMarkets LLC found that on average they project nationwide prices will drop more than 1 percent this year.

Christopher Thornberg, a principle of Beacon Economics, a West L.A. consulting firm specializing in real estate, warned against reading too much into the numbers.

“For a while they managed to get a bounce out of the market because of interest rates and tax credits, but that has come to an end,” he said. “As a result, things have gotten flat and I would expect them to remain soft for the rest of the year.”

Among the neighborhoods in which prices were flat was the 90049 ZIP code in Brentwood, where 16 homes sold for a median price of $1.53 million, virtually the same as last year.

But not every area shared in the flat trend, with some of the most dramatic shifts occurring at the higher end. For example, 32 homes were sold in Manhattan Beach’s 90266 ZIP code at a median price of $1.67 million, a 28 percent jump compared with last year.

Conversely, 21 homes were sold in the 90068 ZIP code in the Hollywood Hills at a median price of $698,000, a 34 percent drop from 2009.

The median price of a condo also remained flat countywide in July at $305,000 for the second month in a row. Sales volume was 1,634 units, a 1 percent increase over last year.

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