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So. Calif. home sales fell in June

Posted: July 17, 2013 12:30 p.m.
Updated: July 17, 2013 12:30 p.m.
 

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Southern California's surging housing market stumbled last month with home sales falling as strapped homeowners refused to sell, fewer investors bought and the median sales price rose to $385,000, its highest level in more than five years, a real estate research firm reported Wednesday.

There were 21,608 houses and condominiums sold last month in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. Sales were down 6.2 percent from May and 2.1 percent from June 2012. That year-over-year decline was the first for any month since September.

"Investor and cash buyers are starting to back off a bit," said John Walsh, president of DataQuick.

At the same time, the median sales price of $385,000 was the highest for any month since April 2008. It was up 4.6 percent from May and 28.3 percent higher than the June 2012 figure, according to the real estate information company.

The median price has regained more than half of the value it lost after the market crashed from the peak of $505,000 in the spring and summer of 2007.

However, there are signs that the "blistering pace" may slow, Walsh said.

"If mortgage interest rates shoot up again then that's virtually a given," he added.

Middle- and high-end home sales did well while lower-cost properties languished. About a third of sales were for $500,000 or more, up a bit from May, while the number of homes that sold for less than $200,000 dropped.

"Weak demand isn't the culprit," DataQuick said in a statement. "The main problems are a fussy mortgage market and an inadequate supply of homes for sale. Many owners can't afford to sell their homes because they still owe more than they are worth, and lenders aren't foreclosing on as many properties, further limiting supply."

About 16 percent of sales were short, meaning the price was less than what was owed on the property. That was the lowest level in nearly four years, DataQuick said.

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