Southern California home prices rise nearly 11%; sales jump too

An "Open House" sign points to a house.
Southern California home sales in November rose 18.9% from a year earlier.
(Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)

The Southern California median home price rose by double digits for the fourth consecutive month, underscoring strong demand for housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The six-county region’s median price was $603,000 in November, a 10.8% increase from a year earlier, according to data released Thursday by DQNews.

Sales rose 18.9% from November 2019.

Experts say the upswing in recent months has been driven by mortgage interest rates in the 2% range, as well as the desire for additional space as people spend more time at home.


At the same time, millennials are increasingly entering their early 30s when many tend to buy a home for the first time, thus adding new demand to the market.

At Irvine home builder Tri Pointe Group, for example, home orders jumped 50% in the third quarter, and it’s seeing strong demand from both first-time and move-up buyers, said Doug Bauer, the company’s chief executive.

“The ongoing importance of the home during this pandemic has been magnified like there is no tomorrow,” he said.

The Southern California median sales price hit an all-time high in September, then declined slightly in October and November.

But that’s consistent with a seasonal trend in which prices tend to dip from September to October and then from October to November, said Selma Hepp, deputy chief economist at real estate firm CoreLogic, which supplies the underlying data to DQNews.

Meanwhile, some individual counties are still setting or matching price records. And the number of houses, condos and town homes that sold across Southern California last month was also the highest for a November since 2006.

  • In Los Angeles County, the median sales price rose 12.2% from a year earlier to $700,000, while sales climbed 13.1%.
  • In Orange County, the median sales price rose 8.2% to $799,500, while sales climbed 19.4%.
  • In Riverside County, the median sales price rose 12.3% to a record $455,000, while sales climbed 20.1%.
  • In San Bernardino County, the median sales price rose 14.3% to match a record of $400,000, while sales climbed 25.7%.
  • In San Diego County, the median sales price rose 9.3% to match a record of $650,000, while sales climbed 23%.
  • In Ventura County, the median sales price rose 14.4% to $663,750, while sales climbed 18.4%.

The sharp increases in the median reflect not only rising values of individual homes but also other factors.

Because the median is the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less, it also reflects a change in the types of homes sold.

And one thing that has made the median price rise so much is that members of higher-income households are less likely to have lost their jobs in the pandemic, which experts say has led to a greater share of home sales in the luxury segment than last year.

CoreLogic compiles a home price index that tries to account for such changes in the mix of homes selling, though it’s not as up to date as the median price data.

In October, the CoreLogic index showed that home prices rose 7% from a year earlier in L.A. County. That compares with a 15% increase in the October median.