SAN DIEGO (AP) — Home sales in Southern California climbed to an 11-month high in June as gains in pricey, coastal areas offset declines in less expensive regions that had been fueling the recovery, a research firm reported Tuesday.
There were 23,871 new and existing homes sold in the six-county region last month, up 2.6 percent from 23,262 homes in the same period last year and up 7.2 percent from 22,270 in May, MDA DataQuick said. It marked the highest June sales total since 2006 and the most for any month since July 2009.
Homes sold for a median price of $300,000 in June, up 13.2 percent from $265,000 during the same month last year but down 1.6 percent from $305,000 in May.
The numbers show that sales are shifting to the coast from the foreclosure-battered Inland Empire, which was drawing bargain-hunters in droves a year ago. Foreclosures accounted for only 33 percent of existing home sales last month, down from 45.3 percent a year earlier and down from an all-time high of 56.7 percent in February 2009.
"The market was wildly out of kilter a year ago. Now it's just somewhat out of kilter," said John Walsh, president of MDA DataQuick.
MDA DataQuick said the June results reflect "a slow crawl toward normalcy." Andrew LePage, an analyst at the San Diego-based firm, said a key test will be if sales hold up as federal and state tax credits for homebuyers expire.
Orange, the most expensive market in the six counties surveyed with a median price of $445,000 in June, registered a 15.7 percent gain in sales from the same period last year.
San Bernardino County, the least expensive market with a median price of $160,000 in June, showed a 7.5 percent drop in sales. Sales slipped 1 percent in Riverside County, another relatively affordable market with a median price of $210,000.
In another sign that higher-end markets are leading the recovery, 20.8 percent of all sales last month were for at least $500,000, up from 19.3 percent the same period a year earlier. Sales in ZIP codes representing the priciest one-third of Southern California accounted for 29.6 percent of all existing home sales, up from 27.8 percent last year.
MDA DataQuick said sales in higher-end markets would be even more robust if loans were more available.
"The single-biggest issue is still mortgage financing," Walsh said. "Rates may be at record lows but that doesn't mean much if the lender won't qualify you."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
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