Southern California home sales dropped from November 2004 to November 2005 in several Southern California counties while prices continue to escalate, a real estate information service reported today.

About 27,600 new and resale homes were sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in November, which was down 3 percent from October and up 0.6 percent from November 2004, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

A decline from October to November is normal for the season. The strongest November in DataQuick’s statistics was in 1988 when 29,303 homes were sold. The slowest November was in 1991 when 13,537 homes were sold. So far this year 326,746 Southland homes have been sold, virtually unchanged from 326,880 for the first 11 months of last year.

“Potential buyers typically get off the fence when interest rates are on the rise, that may account for part of last month’s high sales count. Additionally, more homes are on the market these days, giving buyers more choice than they had a few months ago,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

The median price paid for a Southern California home was $479,000 last month, a new record. That was up 1.3 percent from $473,000 in October, and up 15.4 percent from $415,000 for November 2004. Annual price increases have been in the mid-teens since April.

Home sales activity dropped 9.5 percent in San Diego County, 3.6 percent in Los Angeles County, 1.8 percent in San Bernardino County and 1.6 percent in Orange County from November 2004 to November 2005, while jumping 18.6 percent in Riverside County and 12.1 percent in Ventura County in that time.

Meanwhile, median home prices rose 23.2 percent in San Bernardino County, 20.7 percent in Ventura County, 19.5 percent in Los Angeles County, 17.1 percent in Riverside County, 13.9 percent in Orange County and 6.4 percent in San Diego County from November 2004 to November 2005

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Southland buyers committed themselves to paying was $2,238 last month, up from $2,169 for the previous month, and up from $1,830 in November 2004.

Adjusted for inflation, current payments are about the same as they were in the spring of 1989, at the peak of the prior real estate cycle, DataQuick reported.

“Indicators of market distress are still largely absent. Foreclosure activity is edging up from its bottom, but is still low. Down payment sizes are stable, as are flipping rates and non-owner occupied buying activity,” the DataQuick announcement states.

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

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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