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Southern California home prices hold steady in August, sales hit high

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

September 12, 2013|By Andrew Khouri
  • "For Sale" signs mark homes in Menifee in southern Riverside County. The median sales price was $385,000 last month in the six-county Southland, unchanged from July and June, real estate firm DataQuick reported Thursday.
"For Sale" signs mark homes in Menifee in southern Riverside… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

Southern California home prices remained flat in August from a month earlier and sales hit a seven-year high for the month as more homes went on the market.

The median sales price was $385,000 last month in the six-county Southland, unchanged from July and June, real estate firm DataQuick reported Thursday. Prices were 24.6% higher than last year.

In Los Angeles County, the median price rose 28.1% to $429,000 in August, while the median in Orange County was $560,000, 25.8% more than last year.

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Home values have shot up sharply this year as traditional home buyers rushed into the market eyeing historically low mortgage rates amid an improving economy, but found few homes available for sale and significant competition from cash-carrying investors.

Buyers purchased a total of 23,057 new and resale houses and condos in the Southland last month. That was 2.8% more than August 2012, but down 0.8% from July.

This year’s sharp price gains, as well as recent mortgage rate increases, have eaten away at affordability and frustrated many would-be home shoppers, while raising questions of how long the fervid pace can continue.

But the steady median price figure over the last two months could signal that dramatic price increases are easing as more homes come on the market.

"Home shoppers have more properties to choose as we begin to see a ‘supply response’ to higher values," DataQuick President John Walsh said in a statement. "Price pressures appear to be easing, though, amid higher mortgage rates, more supply and fewer cash and investor purchases."

The number of listings rose in August from a month earlier and a year ago in the Inland Empire as well as in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties, according to Realtor.com. Listings declined in San Diego county over the month and year — the only Southland region to do so.

Still, inventory remains extremely tight.

In the L.A. metropolitan area, there was a three-month supply of existing homes for sale in July, the latest data available from the California Assn. of Realtors. A supply of six to seven months is considered normal.

[For the record, 2:04 p.m. Sept. 12: An earlier version of this post said Realtor.com reported listings rose in August from July in San Diego County. It also said listings fell over the year in Orange County. In fact, listings fell over the month in San Diego County and rose over the year in Orange County.]

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