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L.A. County Home Prices, Sales Continue to Climb

Housing: Median cost rises 9.8%, and number of transactions increases 21.6% in June.

July 16, 1998|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles County home prices and sales jumped ahead in June, with the median sales price for all homes rising nearly 10% on a year-over-year basis to $190,000, as sales continued to soar at a near-record pace, according to a real estate report released Wednesday.

The strong results in June and during the first half of the year have exceeded projections as the county's housing market benefits from an economic rebound and high consumer confidence. In addition, the steady rise in home prices and continued low mortgage rates have encouraged more people to jump into the market, propelling sales and home values even higher.

"Properties that have been sitting for months now get multiple offers," said James Joseph, a Century 21 broker based in Whittier. "I think people feel wealthier right now, and they are more confident."

The June results showed that all types of properties--from existing, single-family homes to condominiums to new houses--got a boost from rising prices and sales. The 9.8% year-over-year price gain reported in June along with the 9.9% increase in May were the strongest increases of the decade, according to Acxiom/DataQuick Information Systems, a real estate research firm.

Sales of all properties during June shot up 21.6% over the same month last year to 10,453 homes.

During the first half of 1998, the median sales price for all homes rose 8.3% over the same period last year to $182,000, according to Acxiom/DataQuick. Sales were up 14.8% during the six-month period to 50,596 properties.

The Los Angeles County real estate market is "exceeding our expectations by a little bit," said Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for the California Assn. of Realtors. "It is definitely in line with the [statewide] market activity we have been seeing for the past six months of the year."

Real estate sales and prices are expected to eventually moderate as Asia's economic problems begin to take a bigger toll on the state's economy, Appleton-Young said. Already, some brokers and agents have reported a cooling of the red-hot sales and price increases reported in earlier months, she said.

However, the market, while expected to show more modest results, should remain strong, with a "second wave" of buyers emerging as rising prices provide more homeowners with enough equity to trade up to larger and more expensive properties, Appleton-Young said.

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