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Home Prices in Southland Rise at Slower Rate


Southern California home prices and sales continued to climb in September, but at a slower rate than in previous months, amid growing signs that home buyers have become more conservative amid financial and political instability.

The median price of all homes sold in Southern California in September rose 7.6% from the same month last year to $185,000, according to housing figures released Monday by research firm DataQuick. Sales were up 17.4% on a year-over-year basis to 25,032 properties--the highest September sales count since 1988.

Despite the regional market's solid performance in September, the monthly results pale in comparison to those generated earlier in the year. In July, for example, sales soared 31.4% on a year-over-year basis while the median price jumped nearly 12%.

Real estate analysts said the more modest price increases in part reflect the recent burst of sales activity in the Inland Empire, where homes prices are relatively low. In Riverside County, for example, sales in September soared 31.7% compared with the same month last year, according to DataQuick, a division of Acxiom Corp. The median home price was $140,000 in Riverside compared with $227,000 in neighboring Orange County.

The sizzling sales pace of the spring and summer was not expected to last, as the Asian financial crisis takes a toll on the state's economy and volatility on Wall Street undermines consumer confidence and wealth. Brokers and agents on L.A.'s pricey Westside, for example, had earlier noted a growing buyer resistance to spiraling property prices.

In L.A. County, the median sales price in September rose 5.2% from the same month last year to $183,000, DataQuick said.

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