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So. Calif. home sales soar in July, prices steady

Posted: August 14, 2013 2:53 p.m.
Updated: August 14, 2013 2:53 p.m.

Southern California's recovering housing market remains red-hot, with sales hitting an eight-year high for July.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Southern California's recovering housing market remains red-hot with sales hitting an eight-year high for July and prices remaining firm, a real estate research firm said Tuesday.

There were 25,419 new and used homes and condominiums sold last month in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties, DataQuick said.

That's up 17.6 percent from June and 23.5 percent compared to a year earlier. In fact, sales were only a half-percent below the historically normal level for July.

The median sales price — meaning half of the homes sold for more and half for less — was $385,000. That was the same as in June but up nearly 26 percent since July 2012.

The median price has now risen year-over-year for 16 months in a row.

"We think a lot of the increase in activity can be chalked up to a rising inventory of homes for sale. The jump in mortgage rates a couple of months back might have spurred more buying, too," DataQuick President John Walsh said. "The market continues its rebalancing act, with more and more people who've been 'underwater' now able to sell their homes at a profit, or at least break even."

However, that didn't necessarily apply to people saddled with the cheapest homes.

The number of homes that sold for $300,000 through $800,000 last month rose more than 50 percent compared to July 2012. The number that sold below $200,000 dropped 26.4 percent year-over-year.

Weak low-end sales largely were due to a "fussy" mortgage market and an inadequate supply because many owners of low-end homes still can't afford to sell without taking a loss and lenders are not foreclosing on as many properties, DataQuick said.

Overall, indicators of market distress continued to decline, DataQuick said.

Foreclosures were down, the number of buyers who financed with multiple mortgages was low and the size of down payments was stable, the firm said.


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