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Slumping Economy Slows Home Sales

March 25, 2001

Home sales in Southern California dipped last month as buyers of up-market homes took a wait-and-see attitude amid reports of a potential economic slowdown, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 18,050 new and resale houses and condos were sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was down 0.7% from 18,178 for January, and down 9.6% from 19,977 for February of last year, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

The sales decline was stronger in move-up markets than it was in entry-level markets, indicating that discretionary purchase decisions are being put on hold. Last month's median sales price was $216,000 in the Southland. That was up 3.3% from $209,000 in January, and up 9.6% from $197,000 for February a year ago.

The 9.6% year-over-year increase understates appreciation because of the growth in the entry-level market. When adjusted for shifts in market mix, Southland home values rose around 11%.

The typical mortgage payment that Southland buyers committed themselves to paying was $1,131 in February. Last year's high was $1,229 in May, when interest rates were higher.

The all-time peak was $1,360, in April 1989.

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