Southern California home sales were up 6 percent from September 2004 to September 2005, and median prices were up 16.1 percent in that time, DataQuick Information Systems reported today.

DataQuick, a real estate research and information company, reported that 31,740 new and resale homes were sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was down 7.4 percent from 34,292 in August, and up 6 percent from 29,942 for September last year.

“A decline from August to September is normal for the season. Last month’s sales count made for the third-strongest September in DataQuick’s statistics, which go back to 1988,” the company announced. Sales totaled 32,813 two years ago, and in September 1988 sales totaled 34,653. The low for that month was in 1992 with 12,838 sales.

“There seems to be a bit of a gap between perception and reality right now. What’s happening is that appreciation in more affordable markets is stronger than in the high-profile move-up and prestige markets. This is a natural part of a normal real estate cycle because trends in lower-cost markets tend to lag trends in more expensive markets,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

The median price paid for a Southern California home was $475,000 last month. That was down 0.2 percent from $476,000 in August, and up 16.1 percent from $409,000 for September 2004.

Year-over-year changes in the median price ranged from 3.8 percent in San Diego County to 32.8 percent in San Bernardino County. The median in both counties hit a new peak. Sales were down 4.7 percent in San Diego County from September 2004 to September 2005 but up in the other Southern California counties included in the announcement. Sales were up the most – 13.6 percent – in Orange County from September 2004 to September 2005.

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.

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Southland buyers committed themselves to paying was $2,098 last month, down from $2,123 for the previous month and up from $1,809 for September a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, current payments are slightly below their peak in the spring of 1989.

Indicators of market distress are still largely absent, DataQuick also reported, with low foreclosure activity. “Down payment sizes are stable, as are flipping rates and non-owner occupied buying activity,” the company announced.

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