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Southern California home prices and sales surged in December

Andrew Khouri, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Southern California home prices in December rose by the most in 19 months, the latest sign that the housing market is gaining steam after a prolonged slowdown.

The six-county median sales price hit a new all-time high of $550,000 last month, a 7.2% increase from a year earlier, according to data from DQNews. Sales, meanwhile, surged 22.1% from December 2018 -- the largest gain since late 2016.

The dramatic bounce of sales and home prices reflects the depressed state of the market a year earlier. At the time, concerns over affordability and the direction of the economy were heightened. The stock market had plunged and some would-be buyers wondered if prices would follow. Sales in December 2018 dropped 20% from a year earlier.

"December 2018 was a really weird month," said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner at Beacon Economics.

Still, the data reveal a market that's heating up after staying slow through much of 2019. Thornberg and other economists attributed the pickup to an easing of recession fears, rising incomes and falling mortgage rates -- factors that have made buying more attractive and possible.

"High-income people buy houses and their incomes have been really strong," said Richard Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.

 

Prices increased in most counties last month:

--In Los Angeles County, the median price rose 7.4% to $628,250, while sales climbed 18.4%.

--In Orange County, the median price rose 3.2% to $732,750. Sales climbed 36.9%.In Riverside County, the median price rose 6.9% to $401,250. Sales climbed 17.9%.

--In San Bernardino County, the median price rose 7.7% to $355,000. Sales climbed 21.5%.In San Diego County, the median price rose 4.5% to $575,000. Sales climbed 24.1%.

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