Thursday, August 17, 2006

Southland Home Sales at 9-Year Low (LA Times 08172006)

This is so weird, the Federal government starts to increase the Interest rate and that is it the holiday is over. they want their money that they lost over the time that, they were forced to lower the interest, and allow the free lunch to begin. When I graduated High school the interest Rate for a home loan was 21% over a 30 year period. WOW..huh, where we have come. Lets hope that it doesn't go back there.


Southland Home Sales at 9-Year Low

By Annette Haddad
Times Staff Writer

9:50 AM PDT, August 15, 2006

Southern California home sales fell to their lowest level in nine years last month as price appreciation continued to take a haircut, data released today showed.

In July, 22,712 homes closed escrow in the six-county region, according to La Jolla-based research firm DataQuick Information Systems. That was a 27% drop from the year before and was the fewest number of homes to close escrow in a July since 1997.

Waning sales coupled with a rising supply of unsold homes is weighing on price appreciation. In July, the median price of a Southern California home rose 4.9% to $492,000 — the slowest rate of growth in more than six years. The price also edged down 0.2% from the record median of $493,000 set in June.

The latest figures will undoubtedly rev up the debate over whether the Southland's housing sector will be able to navigate a "soft landing" that produces only moderate price declines.

Regardless, the statistics further underscore the changing nature of the region's real estate market.

"Current trends suggest that the market is heading into a lull," said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage.

How long the lulls lasts will depend "on a host of variables," LePage said, including interest rate changes and job and income growth. Sales volume regionally has declined for the last eight months.

The one-month drop between June and July — a hefty 22% — was the most for that period since DataQuick started keeping records in 1988, the company said.

Altogether, Southland home prices have risen just 5% since January, according to DataQuick, which assesses all closed residential transactions in the given period. A year ago, home prices had gained 13% during the same timeframe.

Last month, only San Bernardino County, where home prices are the lowest in the region, continued to post double-digit gains in home price appreciation. The median home price — the point at which half of all homes sell for less, half for more — rose 11.6% to $366,000.

Yet like most other counties, San Bernardino prices have retrenched from their peaks and growth has slowed considerably. Only Los Angeles County, at $520,000, and Ventura County, at $634,000, posted record medians in July, but at the slowest rate in half a decade.

Orange County's median rose 6.3% to $639,000 and Riverside County's gained 7.5% to $414,000. As reported last week, San Diego County, once the hottest local housing market, saw values decline 1.8% to $487,000.

Nationally, the slowdown is growing as well. The National Assn. of Realtors said today that in addition to California, 27 other states and the District of Columbia reported spring sales declines of existing homes.

Sales nationwide were down 7% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.69 million in the April-June quarter this year compared to a year ago, the NAR said.

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