Southern California home sales quickened slightly in March compared to February but are far below average, according to a new report issued by DataQuick. The company reported that home sales were at the lowest levels for a March in six years.
A total of 17,638 new and resale houses and condos were sold in the areas of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino, and Orange counties last month. March's figure was up 25.7 percent from February, when approximately 14,000 homes were sold. March's home sales figures declined from March 2013 by 14.3 percent, and have fallen for six consecutive months on a year-over-year basis.
"Southland home buying got off to a very slow start this year, with last month's sales coming in at the second-lowest level for a March in nearly two decades. We see multiple reasons for this: The inventory of homes for sale remains thin in many markets. Investor purchases have fallen. The jump in home prices and mortgage rates over the past year has priced some people out of the market, while other would-be buyers struggle with credit hurdles," said Andrew LePage, a DataQuick analyst.
Median prices rose 15.8 percent in March from the previous year; however, last month's gain represented the lowest increase since September 2012.
Gains in home prices were also relative to the overall expense of a home.
"Home prices continue to rise at different rates depending on price segment. In March, the lowest-cost third of the region's housing stock saw a 21.0 percent year-over-year increase in the median price paid per square foot for resale houses. The annual gain was 15.9 percent for the middle third of the market and 14.3 percent for the top, most-expensive third," the report said.
Foreclosure sales accounted for 6.4 percent of home sales in March, a drop from 6.7 percent in February, and a 13.8 percent decline year-over-year. Foreclosure sales were the lowest they have been since early 2007.
Short sales made up 7.7 percent of sales last month, falling from 9.3 percent in February and down 18.7 percent from the previous year.
"The most active lenders to Southern California home buyers last month were Wells Fargo with 7.1 percent of the total home purchase loan market, Bank of America with 3.0 percent and IMortgage with 2.4 percent," the report found.