Home sales increase in Inland Empire

GRAND TERRACE Pick any neighborhood you'd like in Southern California and you're sure to find a lot of "for sale" signs. But in the Inland Empire, those signs are going to be disappearing a little more quickly than they were a while ago, because it's the only part of Southern California where home sales are actually up compared to a month ago.

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Many would agree when it comes to foreclosures in the Southland, the Inland Empire may have been hit the worst. In some neighborhoods it seems like for every owned house, right next door there's a foreclosure. And dead grass, lockboxes, and "for sale" signs are some of the very things driving property values down.

"It's affecting the values here in Sierra Lakes," said Sam Suarez. "I think they've gone down -- our house two years ago was 560, they're down to 3, like the low 3s."

But that's where the good news comes in, because prices are so low, buyers are starting to come back.

Tarbell realtor Deeann Parra said the number of buyers has jumped 30 percent.

"Pretty much the '03-'04 prices are back, which means the buyers who lost out in '05-'06-'07, they've now come back out of the woodwork," said Parra.

Housing expert John Husing said it's all economics: Sooner or later, falling prices are going to get to a point where buyers do come back. That point may be now.

"You've got a lot of people that were cut out of the housing market because prices were crazy," said Husing. "People were buying houses not to live in, but as an asset to 'flip' and make money and all the rest of that. That could only go on so long, and it collapsed, so now's the time when you're able to go out and find houses, that you can actually afford the real prices they should have been selling all along."

Home prices in the Inland Empire are up, and in Riverside County, up 11 percent from a month ago.


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