Los Angeles Times

Southland Housing Market Cools Down

Times Staff Writer

Southern California's housing market showed new signs of cooling in October as sales volume dropped for the fourth consecutive month but prices — primarily in relatively affordable areas — continued to surge ahead, according to a real estate report today.

October home sales in the six-county region totaled 28,189 — down 5.9% from September and down 13.3% from October 2003, according to DataQuick Information Systems, a real estate research firm.

The October median sales price, however, for the region rose 23.1% from the same month last year to a record high $410,000. The October results, which are not seasonally adjusted, inched up 0.2% from the previous month.

"It's starting to look like prices in many of the more expensive neighborhoods have leveled off or have come down slightly from a summer peak," said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president, in a statement. "In mid-market and entry-level neighborhoods it appears that both sales activity and appreciation remain strong."

In fact, the Inland Empire counties of Riverside and San Bernardino reported some of the strongest results in October. The median sales price in Riverside County soared 29.4% on a year-over-year basis to $339,000 on a 3.9% decline in sales. San Bernardino posted a 30.4% median sales price increase to $266,000 on a 1.2% dip in sales.

Meanwhile in Orange County, the region's most expensive housing market, the October median sales price rose 20.9% to $532,000, but sales plunged 24.6%

The San Diego County median price increased 26.4% to $489,000 while sales fell 8.1%.

In Ventura County, the median sales price jumped 29.2% to $518,000, but sales posted a steep decline of 25.6%.

Results for Los Angeles County, which were reported last week, showed a 23.2% gain in the median sales price to $409,000 on a 17.8% drop in sales.

The substantial declines in year-over-year sales was partly the result of two fewer business days in October than in the same month last year. Despite the declines, sales activity remains high compared to historical levels, according to analysts.

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