Wednesday, February 12, 2014

DataQuick on SoCal: January Home Sales down 9.9% Year-over-year, Conventional Sales up Sharply Read more at

Southern California logged its lowest January home sales in three years as buyers continued to wrestle with a tight inventory of homes for sale, a fussy mortgage market and the highest prices in years. ... A total of 14,471 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was down 21.4 percent from 18,415 in December, and down 9.9 percent from 16,058 sales in January 2013, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.
Last month’s Southland sales were 17.3 percent below the average number of sales – 17,493 – in the month of January since 1988. Sales haven’t been above average for any particular month in more than seven years. January sales have ranged from a low of 9,983 in January 2008 to a high of 26,083 in January 2004.

The economy is growing, but Southland home sales have fallen on a year-over-year basis for four consecutive months now and remain well below average. Why? We’re still putting a lot of the blame on the low inventory. But mortgage availability, the rise in interest rates and higher home prices matter, too,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

"Two of the bigger questions hanging over the housing market right now are,‘How much pent-up demand is left out there?’ and, ‘Will inventory skyrocket this year as more owners take advantage of the price run-up?’” Walsh continued. “Unfortunately, we’ll probably have to wait until spring for the answers. When it comes to statistical trends, January and February are atypical months that haven’t proven to be predictive over the years.”

Foreclosure resales – homes foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 6.6 percent of the Southland resale market in January. That was up slightly from 5.8 percent the prior month and was down from 17.2 percent a year earlier. In recent months the foreclosure resale rate has been the lowest since early 2007. In the current cycle, foreclosure resales hit a high of 56.7 percent in February 2009.

Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – made up an estimated 12.2 percent of Southland resales last month. That was down from 13.1 percent the prior month and down from 24.2 percent a year earlier.

Absentee buyers – mostly investors and some second-home purchasers – bought 27.5 percent of the Southland homes sold last month, up slightly from 27.2 percent in December and down from a record 32.4 percent a year earlier.
emphasis added
Generally both distress sales and investor buying is declining - and this is dragging down overall sales (plus inventory is still very low).    However conventional sales are up about 25% year-over-year.

It is important to recognize that declining existing home sales is NOT a negative indicator for the housing recovery.  The reason for the decline in overall existing home sales is fewer distressed sales and less investor buying. Those are positive trends!

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