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California Home Sales Up in October

An estimated 42,293 houses and condos - including both existing and new - were sold in California last month, according to the latest report from research firm ""MDA DataQuick"":http://www.dataquick.com. That figure is up 4.9 percent from 40,371 in September and up 63.7 percent from 25,832 in October of last year. It was the strongest month since December 2006 when 43,431 homes were sold, MDA DataQuick reported. Based on the firm's statistical data going back to 1988, California sales for the month of October have varied from last year's low to a peak of 70,152 in 2003; the average is 44,602.
San Diego-based MDA DataQuick reported that the median price paid for a home in California last month was $278,000, down 1.8 percent from $283,000 the month before, and down 34.4 percent from $424,000 in October a year ago. Around half the drop in median is due to depreciation, the other half due to shifts in the types of homes selling, and how those homes are financed MDA DataQuick explained.
The typical mortgage payment that California home buyers committed themselves to paying last month was $1,310, the firm said. That's down from $1,337 in September, and down from $2,016 in October 2007. Adjusted for inflation, mortgage payments are back to where they were in early 2001, MDA DataQuick said. They are 36.5 percent below the spring 1989 peak of the prior real estate cycle, and 48.7 percent below the current cycle's peak in June 2006, based on the research firm's data.
Southern California home sales rose unseasonably last month from September as buyers shook off gloomy financial news and took advantage of often-steep discounts, MDA DataQuick said in a separate report. The median sale price in the region fell to $300,000 - a 67-month low - as foreclosures once again accounted for half of all resales.
A total of 21,532 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the six-county Southland area in October - the highest for any month this year, MDA DataQuick reported. Last month's sales rose 5.0 percent from 20,497 in September, and jumped a record 66.7 percent from 12,913 in October 2007, according to the research firm. Fueled by lower prices, Southland sales have risen on a year-over-year basis for four consecutive months, breaking a 33-month streak of annual declines, based on the company's data.
According to MDA DataQuick, indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity is at or near record levels, financing with adjustable-rate mortgages is near the all-time low, as is financing with multiple mortgages. Down payment sizes and flipping rates are stable, non-owner occupied buying activity appears flat but might be emerging, MDA DataQuick reported.