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Southland home sales down from 2009

August 25, 2010 12:40:26 AM PDT
The Paine family is ready to move from their Encino home to a bigger house, if only the sales market would cooperate. "I thought it was a buyer's market, not a seller's market, and it doesn't seem like anybody's market right now," Deb Paine said.

New home sales nationwide dropped more than 12 percent in July, down more than 32 percent from a year ago, reaching the lowest level since record keeping began in 1963.

Realtor Ellen Katzman sees a market that is stuck.

"Right now, interest rates are lower than they ever have been in recorded history," Katzman said.

Even though interest rates are down the sales figures show sharp declines. One reason, according to economic analysts, is that government tax incentives have expired.

"A lot of people aren't buying in July because they bought already," said Dr. Nancy D. Sidhu of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

Sales in the Southland show wide disparities. Compared to this time last year, sales were down in:

  • Ventura County by 8 percent.
  • Orange County by 13 percent.
  • Los Angeles County by 20 percent.
  • Riverside and San Bernardino counties by 30 percent.
Additionally, houses are generally staying on the market much longer due to the slowdown. Last year, they remained for sale for 4 months, while this year they idled for 5.8 months.

But Sidhu said the numbers are not as dismal as they seem. The Inland Empire saw speculators buy a great number of homes last year. Many of those homes are now for rent until the market comes back.

"By the end of the year, I think that banks will be somewhat more willing to lend, so that will help," Sidhu said.

Much depends on buyer confidence and the job market.

"If I price homes aggressively, we still get multiple offers in this market," Katzman said.

In the meantime, the Paine's 1,600-square-foot, 4-bedroom home is up for sale.

Just six years ago, it was purchased for almost $700,000. Today, it is priced aggressively at $599,000. That's not what the Paine's had planned, but certainly what they would be happy to take.

"I think it's sad that the American dream doesn't seem to exist right now," Paine said. "I hope it comes back."


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