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Home Sales on Rise in L.A., Down in O.C. : Real estate: The varied results show the continued instability in the state's market as it emerges from a slump.


Los Angeles County home sales rose in October for the third straight month while the Orange County residential market continued to lose ground, according to sales figures released Thursday.

Bolstered by attractive mortgage rates and a slowly improving economy, sales of new and existing homes in Los Angeles County increased 5.8% in October from the same month last year, to 6,570 units--the best showing for the month in five years, according Dataquick Information Services, a La Jolla-based real estate research firm. The median sales price fell 3% from the same month last year, to $161,000.

Wells Fargo economist Chris Taylor said the county's housing market has benefited from a slow but steady economic recovery that is creating new jobs. "The continued growth and gain in jobs . . . has been having a positive effect on the housing market," she said.

Los Angeles real estate broker Fred Sands said that "buyers are gaining some confidence that [the economy] is going to be OK and things are not going to get worse. So they are starting to buy."

However, in Orange County, October home sales were off by 1.5% and the median sales price dove 8.7% from the same month last year, according to Dataquick. Orange County sales have continued to be dogged over concerns about the county's bankruptcy, said Dataquick's John Karevoll.

The vastly different results in the Orange and Los Angeles county home sales illustrate the continued instability in the state's real estate market as it struggles to emerge from a nearly six-year slump.

On Tuesday, the California Assn. of Realtors said third-quarter California sales of existing single-family homes fell 4.8% from the same period last year to an annualized rate of 442,010. The median sales price also fell 3%, to $180,780, during the July-September period.

While sales and prices remain less than last year's results, association officials and economists say the year-to-year comparisons have improved in recent months as the decline in prices and sales have shrunk.

"Improving economic conditions in California are clearly helping to fuel a recovery in the state's huge housing market," said association chief economist Leslie Appleton-Young. "Aerospace job cutbacks appear to be bottoming out, non-farm job growth is solid, and several major California industries are growing rapidly in the global marketplace."

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