Sorry, buyers. With fewer houses for sale, Los Angeles home prices are rising quickly.

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The median price of a single-family home in Los Angeles County was $650,000 in January, representing a sizable 8.5 percent increase over a year earlier, according to new sale numbers from real estate tracker CoreLogic.

A median-priced condo cost $515,000, a more modest 1 percent uptick over January 2019.

The good news for prospective buyers is that prices actually dropped off a bit on a monthly basis—by nearly 5 percent for condos and 0.5 percent for single-family homes.

Unfortunately, the number of properties on the market is dwindling.

According to real estate listings website Zillow, only 14,216 homes were listed countywide in January—a drop of nearly 22 percent since a year ago. It was only the sixth month since 2013 (when Zillow began tracking) in which the number of homes for sale fell below 15,000 in LA County.

“Low inventory is going to mean a couple things,” says Zillow economist Cheryl Young. “One is there’s less out there. You many not find what you’re looking for right away.”

That means buyers may be forced to compromise more when home shopping, or compete with multiple offers for especially desirable properties. That can have an impact on the overall market.

“Because inventory’s so low,” says Young, “it kind of props up prices just a little bit more.”

With fewer homes available for buyers to choose from, for-sale signs aren’t staying up very long. In January, the typical single-family home in Los Angeles County took 26 days to sell, according to the California Association of Realtors. That’s down a full 10 days from January, 2019. Statewide, the median home took 31 days to sell last month.

Home price growth stagnated in early 2019, as mortgage interest rates crawled up. But sale prices have been growing steadily since then, and local homeowners appear less eager to sell.

Young says the trend could continue into the spring and summer months, when the market is generally most competitive.

“I don’t think it’s going to get as crazy as it was a few years ago, but it’s still really tough out there [for buyers],” she says.

An uptick in sale prices could make homeownership inaccessible to even more Californians. The realtors association reported in November that only one-quarter of Los Angeles residents could afford a home at the county’s median price point.

A major obstacle for many would-be homebuyers is saving up for the massive down payments necessary to make a purchase in such a pricy market. Data from the realtors association show that the typical down payment in the Los Angeles metropolitan area reached $107,700 in January—nearly $8,000 higher than in January of last year.

“This price growth that’s happened over time has gotten out of control,” Young says. “There’s still people out there looking, but some of them won’t be able to get in.”

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