Buyers Lured by Low Prices Boost Home Sales by Nearly 28%

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Orange County housing sales jumped by nearly 28% in April as buyers continued to take advantage of low home prices, according to figures released Monday.

A total of 3,260 new and existing homes were sold during April, compared to 2,549 transactions for April, 1993--an increase of 27.9%, according to TRW Redi Property Data, a real estate data company in Riverside.

"This is a continuation of what we've seen since the beginning of the year," said Nima Nattagh, market analyst for TRW. "This bodes well for everyone in the industry."

For the first four months of 1994, Orange County home sales increased 34.8% from the same period a year earlier, TRW reported.

Nattagh noted that a recent rise in interest rates is nudging some prospective buyers off the fence, especially those who want to take advantage of the current low prices. The average price of an Orange County home sold in April was $237,496, compared to $240,390 a year earlier.

The Orange County market--which showed the largest percentage increase in April homes sales among the six Southern California counties--continues to be driven by entry-level or first-time home buyers. More than 35% of homes sold here in April were priced below $175,000.

April Home Sales Top 1993

Total sales of new and existing homes in Orange County jumped nearly 28% in April compared to the same month last year. The average selling price dipped slightly:

April sales

1993 1994 % change New 506 425 -16.0 Existing 2,043 2,835 +38.8 Total 2,549 3,260 +27.9

April sales

1993 1994 % change New $234,748 $237,990 +1.4 Existing 241,826 237,421 -1.8 Total 240,390 237,496 -1.2

LOW-END DRAW

Strong home sales this year are being driven by high demand for entry-level houses. In April, more than a third of homes resold in Orange County went for less than $175,000--a slight increase from last year. April sales by price range:

1993 1994 Price Resales New homes Resales New homes Less than $175,000 34.2% 31.0% 35.1% 28.0% $175,001-$250,000 37.1 33.2 36.2 35.8 $250,001-$325,000 14.3 19.8 15.2 19.5 $325,001-$600,000 11.3 15.6 10.7 16.4 More than $600,000 3.2 0.4 2.7 0.2

Note: Totals may not add to 100% because of rounding

Source: TRW Redi Property Data

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