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    LA-Orange County homebuying at 2nd-slowest pace despite 43% March jump
    • April 26, 2023

    Homebuying in Los Angeles and Orange counties ran at the second-slowest March pace on record despite a noteworthy jump in closed transactions from February.

    Sales totaled 7,044 in March in the two counties, according to CoreLogic. That’s up 43% for the month but down 35% for the year.

    But how slow is that?

    No. 2 lowest sales volume for a March in records dating to 1988
    28th-smallest sales total for any month
    39% below the average March sales over 35 years

    Yes, some house hunters returned to the market in early 2023 despite economic skittishness and lofty mortgage rates that have cut buying power by 23% in a year. Still, sales in the six-county Southern California region in the past year fell by 37% to 15,307. The six-county median sales price fell 2.1% to $705,000.

    The basics

    Let’s look inside the L.A.-O.C. market, starting with March sales.

    Los Angeles County had 4,935 closings, up 45% in a month but 36% lower in a year. Orange County had 2,109 sales – up 39% in a month but 34% lower in a year.

    Note: A March sales bump is little surprise. Since 1988, sales have grown from February by an average 38% in L.A. and 37% in O.C.

    Next, consider how prices moved.

    In Los Angeles County, the $799,000 median was up 4.4% in a month but 8% off the $865,000 record high set in April 2022.

    Orange County’s $990,000 median was up 3.6% in a month but 6% off the $1.05 million peak of May 2022.

    Since 1988, the average March has had prices gain 3.5% in L.A. for the month and advance 2.1% in O.C.

    Payment pain

    Pricier financing is a factor: The 30-year mortgage rate averaged 6.5% in March vs. 4.2% 12 months earlier.

    My trusty spreadsheet tells me Los Angeles County buyers got an estimated house payment that was 25% pricier – $4,057 per month on the $799,000 median vs. $3,243 on a year ago’s $832,000 home. That assumes having $159,800 for a 20% downpayment.

    In Orange County, buyers got a 27% bigger payment – $5,027 monthly on the $990,000 median vs. $3,957 on a year ago’s $1,015,000 home. It takes $198,000 for a 20% downpayment.

    Single-family homes

    Sales: Los Angeles County’s 3,523 transactions were up 50% in a month but 33% lower in a year. Orange County’s 1,309 closings were up 42% in a month but 32% lower in a year.

    Prices: Los Angeles County’s $850,000 median was up 2% in a month but 6% lower in a year. Orange County’s $1.13 median was up 6% in a month but 6% lower in a year.


    Sales: Los Angeles County had 1,149 sold —  up 38% in a month but 39% lower in a year. Orange County had 561 sold —  up 30% in a month but 45% lower in a year.

    Prices: Los Angeles County’s $665,000 median was up 4% in a month but 1% lower in a year. Orange County’s $710,000 median was down 2% in a month and 5% lower in a year.

    New homes

    Sales: Los Angeles County builder sold 176 units —  up 12% in a month but 55% lower in a year. Orange County had 234 new residences sold —  up 44% in a month but 2% lower in a year.

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    Prices: Los Angeles County’s $884,250 new-home median was up 0.5% in a month and 6% higher in a year. Orange County’s $1.19 million median was down 4% in a month and 9% lower in a year.

    Builder share: In Los Angeles County, new homes were 3.6% of all closings last month compared with 5.1% 12 months earlier. Orange County’s 11.1% share last month compares to 7.5% 12 months earlier.

    Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at [email protected]

    ​ Orange County Register