March home sales saw a typical late-winter surge last month, bouncing up 28.1 percent across Southern California compared to the previous month, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.
For the entire Southern California region –– which comprises Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties –– a total of 19,954 homes and condo were sold in March, up from 15,573 in February. The number is also up slightly from the same time last year, 2.8 percent, compared to March 2011.
Recent trends have indicated that burgeoning home sales numbers are not evenly distributed across the price spectrum in the real estate market. Lower-priced homes are seeing the most activity right now, while sales on properties priced at the higher end of the market have actually fallen. The greatest increase in activity last month was seen in the $200,000 to $400,000 segment, which grew 4.2 percent compared to March 2011. Homes priced above $800,000 fell by 5.6 percent compared to last year.
“The year is young and lots could still change, but the results from the first big sales month of 2012 suggest the market is stuck in low gear,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president. “This remains a very gradual – not to mention fragile – recovery. Last month's big gain in sales from February was seasonal. A lot more people get out and shop after the holidays and as spring approaches. More telling was the relatively small gain in sales activity compared with a year ago. It's a reminder that, for many potential buyers, lower prices and amazingly low mortgage rates still aren’t enough to get them over their hurdles: tight credit, home values below what they owe on their mortgages, and uncertainties over the economy and home prices.”
Orange County saw the highest year-over-year gains in Southern California, marking a 9.2 percent surge over the same time in 2011. At the same time, it also saw the highest drop in home prices for the same period, a decrease of 7 percent. For the entire Southern California region, sales increased in March over the same period in 2011 by 2.8 percent. Overall, home prices fell slightly by 0.2 percent during the month compared to last year.
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