M. Schrader 3:21 p.m., May 21
Home Sales Up, Down, Depending on Who's Asked
Competing reports from the California Association of Realtors, a real estate trade group, and real estate analytics company DataQuick paint a conflicting picture of residential property sales for the last month of 2011.
The realtors' report, released yesterday, says sales in December rose for the 11th straight month of increased activity in the market. It also says that, for the sixth straight month, figures compared favorably to sales levels in 2010.
“For 2011 as a whole, sales reached a preliminary 497,860 homes sold statewide, up 1.1 percent from the 492,290 homes sold in 2010. However, the statewide median price declined 6.3 percent for the year,” said the realtors association's chief economist and vice president, Leslie Appleton-Young. “Home prices are stabilizing for the distressed market, where we see robust demand, but we continue to see downward pressure on home prices in some higher end markets,” Appleton-Young continued.
“With the economy slowly improving, home buyers – investors and first-time buyers alike – took advantage of affordable interest rates and made a push to close escrow by the end of year,” added the realtor group's president LeFrancis Arnold.
Dealing more specifically with the market in Southern California, DataQuick’s numbers came in a bit different than the realtors', which assessed the state as a whole. Their figures show sales up 14 percent from November, but off 1.4 percent as compared to December 2010. This spike in home sales is both expected and primarily driven by investors, as individual buyers purchasing homes for themselves put shopping on hold over the holidays while investors rush to close out deals before year-end.
“Last year ended much the way it began, with pitifully low new-home sales, record investor activity, drum-tight credit, and lots of potential buyers and sellers just sitting tight,” said John Walsh, DataQuick’s president, in the firm’s January 17 release.
Still, Walsh is optimistic. “Some of the economic vital signs have improved lately and it's sparked a renewed sense of optimism in housing circles.”