Southern California home sales and price appreciation rates slowed in January, a real estate information service reported today.

A total of 21,680 new and resale homes were sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in December, down 28.5 percent from December’s 30,317, and down 4.9 percent from 22,652 for January last year, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

A decrease in sales from December to January is normal for the season. During the last 18 years January sales counts have ranged from 10,994 in 1992 to 23,379 in 1989.

“The real estate statistics that come in based on January and February sales are notoriously bad for forecasting. Last month’s numbers, though, are a continuation of trends that were emerging late last year. Sales are strong, but not at a peak, and price increases are slowing down, especially in the markets that took off first back in 1998 and 1999,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

The median price paid for a Southern California home was $415,000 last month. That was down 2.1 percent from $424,000 in December, and up 21 percent from $343,000 for January 2004. A decline from December to January is normal for the season because of a shift in market mix. The year-over-year increase in January was the lowest since 20.2 percent in February last year.

DataQuick, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

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