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Date: 9/19/2008
Authors: Peter Y. Hong

News Bite

Sales up, prices down as foreclosures flood Southern California home market

About half the homes sold in Southern California in August had been repossessed, according to figures released Wednesday by the real estate tracking service MDA DataQuick, driving prices down 34% over the previous year to a median of $330,000.

That brought out the bargain hunters, who pushed sales up for the second month in a row in August. Sales in the region were up 9.1% in August from a year ago, according to MDA DataQuick, a development that heartened some in the industry because it came on the heels of a July increase that was the first monthly year-over-year increase since 2005.

But that doesn't mean a recovery is on the way. With thousands of additional homes being repossessed by banks each week, experts say it won't be long before most properties sold are foreclosures. Regionwide, foreclosures climbed to 45.5% of sales in August, up from 10% a year ago. In hard-hit Riverside County, about two-thirds of previously owned houses sold last month were in foreclosure.

In August, about 8,800 of the 19,366 homes sold in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and San Diego counties were in foreclosure, according to MDA DataQuick. County by county, the August numbers showed serious price drops throughout the region. San Bernardino County posted the sharpest decline; its $215,000 August median sale price was down 40.3% from a year ago. Los Angeles County's median price of $380,000 was down 30.9% from a year ago. Orange County's median price of $440,000 was 31.5% lower than a year ago.

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