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Southern California home prices rose in February, a time before social distancing

Burbank
A home for sale last year in Burbank.
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

Reflecting a different world, data released Wednesday show Southern California home prices rose 6% in February from a year earlier, while sales surged 14%.

The release, from DQNews, covers deals that closed last month.

Since then, entire sectors of the regional and national economies have shut down or reduced service to beat back the novel coronavirus.

In Southern California, the economic pain could be deep. Major industries such as tourism and entertainment have been particularly hard-hit.

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Some real estate agents are now reporting shrinking demand. Virtual open houses are popping up so home buying can continue without risk of infection.

On Wednesday, federal officials put in place foreclosure and eviction moratoriums for single-family home owners with mortgages backed by the FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Last month the real estate industry was largely still preparing for a busy 2020. The market, juiced by a combination of cheap money and a steady economy, was heating up after a prolonged slowdown. Though the virus was here, it had caused no known deaths in California and officials hadn’t yet imposed major social distancing measures.

Rock-bottom mortgage rates also spurred a wave of refinancing. Last week, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage clocked in at 3.36%, up slightly from a record low since Freddie Mac started collecting the data in 1971.

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The data from DQNews reflect deals that closed in February, meaning most opened escrow in January or December.

Sales and home prices rose in all six Southern California counties from a year earlier:

  • In Los Angeles County, the median home price rose 6.2% to $621,250, while sales jumped 9.1%.
  • In Orange County, home prices rose 6.9% to $748,000, while sales jumped 27.5%.
  • In Riverside County, home prices rose 6.2% to $400,000, while sales jumped 12.5%.
  • In San Bernardino County, home prices rose 4.5% to $350,000, while sales jumped 15.1%.
  • In San Diego County, home prices rose 6.8% to $587,000, while sales jumped 14%.
  • In Ventura County, home prices rose 1.8% to $575,000, while sales jumped 14.8%.

A more up-to-date reflection of the coronavirus’ effect on home sales and pricing will emerge in coming months. Ultimately, real estate experts say, the effect on the housing market will depend on how long the virus lingers and how many jobs are lost to shutdowns.


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