La Jolla, CA---Southern California home sales outpaced last year for the fifth consecutive month in November, when 55 percent of buyers in the resale market chose repossessed homes. The abundance of discounted foreclosures helped push the median sale price down a record 35 percent from a year ago, a real estate information service reported.
A total of 16,720 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the six-county Southland last month. That was down 22.3 percent from 21,532 in October but up 26.9 percent from 13,173 in November 2007, according to San Diego-based MDA DataQuick.
On the surface, last month's sales look much weaker than in the prior two months: November's 26.9 percent year-over-year sales increase compares with annual gains of 64.6 percent in September and 66.7 percent in October. Moreover, the 22.3 percent drop in sales between October and November was a record and compares with an average October-to-November decline of just 7.4 percent since 1988, when DataQuick's statistics begin.
But November also had an unusually low number of business days when transactions could be recorded. Most counties had 17 business days last month, compared with 22 in October and at least 19 in most Novembers over the past 20 years. In most counties, the Thanksgiving and Veterans Day holidays resulted in three fewer business days last month, plus this November started and ended on a weekend.
Last month appears stronger when viewed this way: Its average number of transactions recorded daily was only about 1 percent lower than the daily average in October, which had the highest number of sales for any month so far this year.
"Bargains and bargain hunters have kept this market alive through some of the bleakest financial news in memory. There's this renewed sense that you can score a 'deal' - something that had been missing for many years. Last month's Southland sales weren't great, given they were the second-lowest for any November in 16 years. But they could have been a lot worse," said John Walsh, DataQuick president.
"Many first-time homebuyers are, understandably, cheering as foreclosures dominate sales, tugging down prices and raising affordability," he continued. "For home sellers and the industry, though, one concern over foreclosures representing half of all sales is that those transactions simply repay lenders. They don't trigger a move-up purchase."