SoCal Home Sales, Median Sale Price Edge Lower

From Southern California homes sold at the slowest pace for a January in three years – and the second-slowest in 15 – amid record-low new-home sales, tight credit, and a persistent reluctance among would-be buyers. The median sale price dipped slightly from a year ago but fell more than usual from December as investors and others targeting lower-cost properties accounted for a larger share of sales, a real estate information service reported.“Last month was sort of a flashback to January last year: Sales were lousy, but many investors and others looking for bargains stayed active,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president. “They kept working the distress-heavy, lower-cost markets through the holidays, which translated into a relatively high level of investor and cash deals closing last month. It helps explain the larger-than-usual, month-to-month dip in the median sale price.Once again, we’re seeing data that tells us as much about who’s not buying as who is buying. Lots of potential buyers continue to hold back, waiting for a sign prices have bottomed, that their jobs are safe, or that loans are easier to get. Meanwhile, plenty of potential sellers are still waiting for a stronger market. Some could technically sell now but can’t swallow the perceived loss in value compared with the market’s peak. Others are ‘upside down,’ owing more than their homes are worth, and can’t afford to budge until prices climb again.”