Inland Empire/Corona Prices Are Up, Home Sales Down

Southern California’s median home sales price in September climbed to $315,000, triggered by the near historic low mortgage lending rates, a gradually improving economy, dip in foreclosure re-sales and a crunch on inventory.

But even as home price reached a 49-month high, climbing 12.5 percent from $280,000 in September 2011, the six-county region had its first decline in sales in nine months.

The 17,859 existing home sales were 1.6 percent lower than September 2011 when Southern California agents and brokers closed 18,149 deals, San Diego-based DataQuick, the real estate information service said.

Lack of supply has been bringing the six-county average median home price up about 2 percentage points each month over the summer.

The latest stats suggest unbelievably low mortgage rates and modestly higher consumer confidence continue to put pressure on a supply-starved housing market,’’ said John Walsh, DataQuick president. “We can’t stress enough, though, that the median sale price and other price measures reflect more than just rising home values.”

There’s been a major change in market mix, Walsh said. It translates to fewer low-priced sales, fewer foreclosures re-selling and more sales in middle and upscale markets.

Assuming this year’s modest upward trend in pricing holds, Walsh predicted the region will gradually see the market begin to “re-balance” with more supply.

The Inland area of Riverside and San Bernardino, perhaps, is an early indicator of this market swing.

DataQuick’s newest report shows a double-digit drop in sales, and price point gains of more than 11 percent.

Riverside County’s 2,920 home sales in September fell 11.6 percent from the same month one year ago when 3,303 home sale contracts were inked. The median home sales price rose by an equal percentage from $191,000 to $212,500.

San Bernardino County’s 2,044 homes sales in September dropped 10.9 percent from the 2,295 home sales reported the year earlier. Median home prices had a 13.3 percent gain from $150,000 last September to $170,000, DataQuick said.

Real estate agents and brokers have said lack of supply is hindering sales, and driving up price.
Walsh said it could have a ripple effect, as potential move-up buyers with equity in their homes prepare their property for a sale to take advantage of super-low rates and relatively low prices. “As more potential sellers get off the fence, or no longer owe more than their homes are worth, we’ll see the inventory of homes for sale rise.”

“We’re getting more standard sales, less REO and short-sales. I’m seeing multiple offers on some of the lower-priced homes,’’ she said, and mid-priced to upper-priced homes are coming onto the market.

“People are making their moves,’’ she said, sharing comments from two clients who just listed their $1-million-plus homes. They told Scott they’d rather move while lending rates and housing prices are low, instead of waiting for their own home price to go up.
DataQuick statistics point to this market fluidity.

Sales of homes over $500,000 rose 9.6 percent year-over-year in September, while sales of $800,000-plus property rose 5.2 percent from the year earlier.

Foreclosures represented 16 percent of the Southland home sales; short-sales, 26 percent.
Jumbo loans, mortgages above the conforming limit of $417,000, represented 21 percent of the home purchases, 17.8 percent more than September 2011. Before the credit crunch in August 2007, jumbo loans comprised 40 percent of the market, DataQuick said.

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Published: 12 October 2012 10:45 AM