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Homes selling slower in Southern California. A sign of stability?

April 24, 2014|By Tim Logan
  • Homes are staying on the market longer in Southern California this spring. Here, prospective buyers tour a house in Highland Park.
Homes are staying on the market longer in Southern California this spring.… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

In another sign that the hot Southland housing market is throttling down, homes here are staying on the market longer lately.

The share of houses that have been listed for sale for at least two months climbed in the Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire and Ventura regions of Southern California compared with a year ago, according to an analysis by real estate website Trulia.

Thanks to perennially tight supply, Southern California housing markets are still pretty “fast” by historic standards, notes Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko. More than half of all homes in Los Angeles and Orange Counties sold in less than two months -- among the 10 highest rates in the country.

But compared with last year, when prices were significantly lower and the supply of homes for sale was even tighter, the market has slowed a bit. The share of homes on the market for two months in Los Angeles climbed to 44% from 40 a year ago, to 45% from 38% in Orange County and to 53% from 49% in Riverside-San Bernardino. By comparison, that share fell in the Bay Area, Denver and Seattle.

Trulia’s data is echoed by figures from the California Assn. of Realtors showing the median number of days on the market has climbed in the Southland over the last year, though it fell from February to March.

After the big run-up in prices last year, the Southern California market is settling into a more stable, normal pattern, Kolko said, driven by traditional home-buyers.

“Buying is not the bargain it looked like a couple of years ago. There’s less investor demand,” he said. “The market has to depend more on local people looking for a place to themselves.”

But with credit tight, household income relatively flat and the job market still shaky, the question, said Kolko, is whether those people will take a leap into the housing market and buy.

“That depends on job and income growth,” he said.


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