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Southern California home prices hit record highs for a fourth month

Driven by record-low mortgage rates and a low inventory of homes for sale, Southern California home prices hit a record high in September for a fourth consecutive month.

Home sales also shifted into high gear, with transactions climbing to the highest level in three years.

The median price of a Southern California home, or the price at the midpoint of all sales, hit $612,750 last month, DQ News/CoreLogic reported Wednesday, Oct. 21.

That’s a gain of $81,250, or 15.3%, since September 2019.

Sales, meanwhile, jumped 22.3% to 23,579 homes sold last month. That’s the highest tally for any month since August 2017 and the highest for any September since 2006.

For the year so far, however, sales are down 5% from 2019 year-to-date figures.

The market shifted dramatically following last spring’s lockdowns and appear to fly in the face of the pandemic, which held California’s unemployment rate at 11% in September.

Home sales fell off a cliff in April and May – the traditional spring homebuying season – with drops of 32% in April and 45% in May. September’s sales tally was almost double the number in May.

Economist say the housing market is rebounding since homeowners weren’t hit as hard by shutdowns and job losses as renters.

Agents say buyers are scrambling to take advantage of low mortgage rates, with bidding wars driving up prices.

The 30-year-fixed-rate mortgage averaged just 2.81% as of Thursday, Oct. 15, according to Freddie Mac, with some agents saying clients are getting rates of 2.5% or lower. The number of homes listed for sale in the region hovered at just under 26,000 homes, vs. more than 41,000 a year earlier, according to Reports On Housing. It was the lowest for an October in at least seven years.

Orange County was the only Southern California jurisdiction that didn’t see its median home price hit an all-time high last month.

Riverside County’s median hit its second straight record. And San Bernardino County’s median finally rose above pre-recession highs set during the housing bubble in 2006 – the last county in the region to do so.

Record highs also were reached for sales of existing houses and condos.

The median price of an existing single-family home hit $656,500, up 17.2%, CoreLogic figures show. The existing condo median was $510,000, up 13.3%

CoreLogic’s numbers mirror findings by the California Association of Realtors, which reported Monday that the median for existing houses hit record highs statewide and in the Los Angeles metro area.

“It’s sounding like a broken record as California home sales and prices continue to outperform expectations,” CAR Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young said in a statement.

Here’s a breakdown of last month’s numbers, by category and by county:

Single-family houses: 16,513 sold, up 23.6% in a year.

Condos: 5,265 sold, up 23.8%.

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Newly built: Local builders sold 1,801 new homes, up 8.2%. Median: $593,000, up 8%.

Builder share: 7.6% of SoCal sales compared with 8.6% in September 2019 and an average of 13.4% between 1988 and 2018.

Los Angeles County: 7,287 homes sold, up 19.9%. Median: $710,000 (a record high), up 14.5%.

Orange County: 3,769 homes sold, up 29.8%. Median: SoCal’s highest at $785,000, up 8.6%.

Riverside County: 4,086 homes sold, up 17%. Median: $447,000 (a record high), up 14%.

San Bernardino County: 3,221 homes sold, up 26.4%. Median: SoCal’s cheapest at $397,000 (a record high), up 12.8%.

San Diego County: 4,317 homes sold, up 27%. Median: $650,000 (a record high), up 14%.

Ventura County: 1,128 homes sold, up 32.1%. Median: $665,000 (a record high), up 12.9%.

Source: Orange County Register

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