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    Southern California home prices hit record $760,000 with sales at 19-month high
    • May 30, 2024

    Southern California home prices hit a new high in April as homebuying ran at its fastest pace in 19 months.

    The record $760,000 median selling price for the region comprising Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties was up 2% from March and up 7% in a year, says a report by CoreLogic released Thursday, May 30.

    The six-county region’s completed sales of 16,751 residences – existing and new houses, townhomes and condos – was a gain of 8% for the month and an 11% increase in a year. The sales tally was the highest since September 2022.

    Yet this is no buying boom, historically speaking. Despite the jump in purchases, it was still the fifth-slowest selling April in data stretching back to 1988. And it’s 27% below the average April sales over the past 37 years.

    Southern California homebuying has stagnated during the past two years as affordability challenges ballooned amid rising prices and costlier mortgage rates.

    Remember, the Federal Reserve began raising the interest rates the central bank controls in March 2022. That month, the average 30-year mortgage rates was 3.76%. This April, the rate was 6.99%.

    As a result, only 15% of Southern Californians had the financial muscle to pull off a home purchase in early 2024, according to California Association of Realtors estimates. Two years earlier, as the Fed was starting to act, local affordability was 24%.

    Consider that a typical Southern California house hunter buying April’s median-priced home at current mortgages rates would have a $4,041 monthly loan payment, assuming a 20% down payment. Not only is that the third-highest payment on record, it’s up 26% in two years.

    Home prices have remained stubbornly high because the relatively small group of qualified house hunters are bidding up prices from a thin supply of listings. Southern California had 2.6 months worth of homes for sale in April, according to Realtors’ supply data. That’s up from 2.5 months a year earlier but well below the 3.7-month average in pre-pandemic 2018-19.

    By the slice

    Think about where the biggest sales gains were within three Southern California homebuying niches.

    Sales of newly constructed homes were up 18% in a year to 1,240. Builders’ median sales price was $645,500 – the cheapest of these three slices and down 8% in a year. That pricing helped builder’s share of the market grow to 7.4% of all Southern California sales versus 7% a year earlier.

    Sales of another relative bargain – existing condos – were up 14% to 3,562. April’s median was $685,000, up 9% in a year.

    And there was a 9% gain for the priciest slice – existing houses with 10,736 sold. April’s $840,000 median was up 11% in a year.

    Counting counties

    Prices in five of the six local counties reached all-time highs in April. All had price and sales gains for the month and the year. Here’s how they fared …

    Orange: Record $1.2 million median was up 4% in a month and up 22% in a year. Sales of 2,282 were up 7% in a month and up 12% in a year. It was fifth-slowest April in the past 37 years. The typical buyer paying the median price gets an estimated $6,375 house payment, up 42% in two years.

    San Diego: Record $880,000 median was up 2% in month, 9% in year. Sales of 2,667 – up 9% in a month, up 7% in a year. No. 4 slowest April. $4,679 payment, up 33% in two years.

    Los Angeles: Record $865,000 median was up 3% in month, 8% in a year. Sales of 5,331 – up 9% in month, up 15% in year. No. 3 slowest April. $4,599 payment, up 25% in two years.

    Ventura: Record $835,000 median was up 1% in month, 8% in year. Sales of 632 – up 20% in month, 7% in year. No. 2 slowest April. $4,440 payment, up 29% in two years.

    Riverside: Record $585,000 median was up 2% in month, 7% in a year. Sales of 3,476 – up 6% in month, 14% in year. No. 17 slowest April. $3,110 payment, up 27% in two years.

    San Bernardino: $489,000 median was up 0.4% in month, up 8% in year. Sales of 2,363 – up 6% in month, 6% in year. No. 10 slowest April. $2,600 payment, up 23% in two years.

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

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    ​ Orange County Register