A home on Mountain View Avenue in Mar Vista. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles…)
Speculators rich with cash helped push Southern California home sales in February to their highest level in five years, new data shows.
The bargain-hunters are snapping up distressed homes and dragging down the median price for a home in the region. But their presence also indicates how tantalizingly cheap home prices have sunk.
At $264,750, the region’s median home price was up 1.8% from the prior month but down 3.7% from a year prior, according to San Diego research firm DataQuick. That was just 7.2% above the past low hit during the worst of the financial crisis in 2009.
Sales in February rose 8.4% from the year prior to total 15,573 homes sold in the Southland. The buying was driven by more affordable properties. Sales of homes under $200,000 were up 9.3% from February 2011, while sales of homes that cost more than $800,000 were down 12.6% over the same period.
Many observers expect the long-suffering housing market to finally hit bottom in 2012, particularly if the jobs picture brightens. But foreclosures, tight mortgage credit and high regional unemployment remain significant impediments to a housing recovery.
Fast start for big sales in 2012
Investors flip over Highland Park
Luxury home prices make up some lost ground