Southern California home sales, prices up in May

Southern California home sales rose nearly 5% in May, CoreLogic says

Southern California home prices rose slightly in May, while sales jumped during the busy spring buying season.

The median sales price for the six-county Southland was $426,000, up 2.2% from a year earlier, CoreLogic said Wednesday. It was the smallest gain in three years, according to the real estate information firm.

That small increase represents a market where buyers have difficulty bidding homes up to ever-higher prices, CoreLogic analyst Andrew LePage said.

But the nature of the median price — the point where half the homes sold for more and half for less — also played a role in the 2.2% increase.

A greater share of homes sold in more affordable areas last month than a year earlier, LePage said.

Sales are improving, however, following a lethargic 2014. Buyers scooped up 21,644 new and resale houses and condominiums last month, nearly 5% higher than a year earlier. It was the third straight month that sales increased.

Real estate agents say they are busy because buyers are looking to lock in low mortgage rates before the Federal Reserve gets around to raising its benchmark short-term interest rate this year or in 2016.

An improved economy has also provided a jolt by giving people more confidence to make a purchase, experts say.

Home sales climbed in all counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and San Diego.

In L.A. County, sales rose 1.4% from May 2014, while the median price climbed 5.4% to $485,000. In Orange County, sales were up 7.4% and the median price edged up 2.5% to $610,000.

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