SoCal sees slight housing rebound for March

DANA POINT, Calif. Most people would be a little nervous these days to watch a 'for sale' sign go up in their front yard, but despite the recent real estate crash, Jim Benson is actually excited to jump into the fray.

"I think there is a huge opportunity. That's why I'm moving and I'm moving fast," said Benson.

Benson plans on buying another home in Dana Point once he sells the one he just put on the market, which makes him part of an ongoing upswing in the Southern California real estate market.

Home sales tracking firm MDA DataQuick says that the average price of a home sold in the Southland over the month of March is up 14 percent from the year before.

Some areas are doing better than others. The average price of an L.A. County home rose 10 percent, Orange County homes are up 12 percent, and Ventura County showed the biggest jump of 15 percent improvement.

Riverside County homes are up 6 percent and San Bernardino County homes are up 1 percent.

"We're definitely seeing a trend line here, and that trend line is increase in value and an increase in sales momentum. It's a very opportune time for buyers now," said Michael Caruso, a real estate broker.

Caruso said that more homes are coming out on the market for the spring sale season, but not everything is rosy. Another round of foreclosures is expected to hit soon, interest rates are expected to rise toward the end of the year and home loans are not as readily available as before.

However, Caruso said it shouldn't be enough to dampen the recovery and that even the upper end of the real estate market is now picking up.

"Higher priced homes are beginning to sell as well. It's very, very important for market recovery," said Caruso.

Benson said that he doesn't care which way the real estate market goes. Since he is both buying and selling a home, the prices all tend to even out.

"If everything goes down $50,000, I sell it for $50,000 less, but I also buy it for $50,000 less. So at the end of the day, it's a wash," Benson explained.

Though a wash won't mean a big profit, it certainly beats the bath many over extended homeowners have taken over the past few years.

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