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Home sales volume and prices slip in January

California’s housing market remained weak in January with the median home price declining from a year earlier and sales volume dipping below the historical average.

Sales fell 0.5% to 27,706 from January 2010, according to DataQuick Information Systems. They also dropped 23.5% from December, although January sales typically fall from December volumes.

The median price for a California home was $239,000, down 3.2% from the previous January and 5.9% from December. Although a decline from December to January is normal, last month’s fall was slightly steeper than average, DataQuick said.

The median price is the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less.

The state remained in the “post-tax-incentive doldrums,” said Gerd-Ulf Krueger, principal economist with Housingecon.com. California’s market weakened last July after the expiration of popular state and federal tax credits for buyers. Sales and prices have eroded steadily since then.

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“Moving forward, the only thing that we could hope for is that the improving economic fundamentals will make themselves felt in the housing market,” Krueger said. “A risk in this is that mortgage rates have been coming up lately … and I am hearing more and more that people are having trouble getting financing.”

The year-over-year decrease in the median price marked the fourth month in a row of such declines, after 11 months of year-over-year increases. The closely watched measure peaked at $484,000 in early 2007 and hit a low of $221,000 in April 2009.

Foreclosures accounted for 40.4% of the resale market last month, up from 38.1% in December but down from 43.8% in January 2010. Statewide sales of foreclosed properties hit a high of 58.5% of the market last February.

Southern California’s housing market extended its slump as sales hit the lowest level for a January in three years and the median home price dropped year over year for the first time since fall 2009, DataQuick reported this week.

January sales fell to 14,458, down 5.9% from a year earlier. The median price for all home types in the six-county region was $270,000, a 0.6% decline from January 2010, the first year-over-year drop since October 2009 and the lowest level since July 2009. Last month’s median was 6.9% less than December’s, a bigger drop than usual from December to January.

Sales of homes in the Bay Area picked up in January as home prices dropped and investors increased their share of buying. But new-home sales fell to their lowest level in more than two decades.

Sales rose 2.3% from January 2010 to 4,966 in the nine-county Bay Area. The median home price for the region last month was $338,000, down 3.4% from the previous January and 9.9% from December.

alejandro.lazo@latimes.com


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