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California's Housing Market Showing Uneven Promise
Nov 28, 2012 (06:11 PM EST)
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- In the Golden State, the housing market isn't exactly golden. After all, this is the same state that saw nearly half of its existing home sales handled through foreclosures at the beginning of 2011! Luckily, though, California's housing market is starting to show some signs of promise. However, those signs are not popping up evenly.
What exactly does that mean? Selling your house in California isn't a day at the beach. However, the closer you get to the beach, the easier things get. Right now, the biggest signs of recovery can be found right along the coast. In San Diego, for example, home prices are 13% higher than they were this time last year, with prices getting higher the closer you get to the sand and surf. Demand is especially-high in San Diego County because the unemployment rate here has gone down 2% since 2010. But, remember, the name of the game in California's housing market these days is "uneven". Along with lower unemployment and higher demand, San Diego's higher home prices are also due to a falling inventory. In fact, over the past year, the number of San Diego homes for sale has dropped 35%. So, for the people who are selling their homes, it's a good thing – because there's less competition to worry about. But for the people who are looking to buy, it means spending more money and having less variety to choose from. The situation is a little more stable in Los Angeles. In fact, the number of home sales AND prices increased in October.
The only problem? Many Los Angeles' residents can't qualify for mortgages these days – especially as you head further east, away from the coast. So, even with a relatively-healthy inventory and low mortgage rates, a number of residents can't take advantage of them, which means that it will still take some time for the area to recover. Head further north, and you'll see an even better picture. That's because the Bay Area has gotten an influx of jobs lately, which has helped San Francisco's real estate market. But instead of focusing on traditional single-family homes, developers there are focusing more on condos and other multi-family units. What about the rest of the Golden State? Like we mentioned, the further you get from the beach, the tougher things get. And, it's those inland numbers that are pulling California down as a whole. In fact, according to a recent report from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, home sales across the state have been flat for the past nine months. Plus, foreclosures continue to play a big role in California's overall housing market. Even though foreclosures aren't nearly as dominant as they were in 2011 – back when they accounted for 40% of California's home sales – they are still hanging around. Today, foreclosed homes make up about 20% of home sales in California. The only good news? That's less than the national average! So, what can California homeowners expect as we move into 2013? Until the inventory starts to go up, the Golden State will not be able to experience a true recovery. According to the UCLA report, we could start to see inventory numbers start to go up because home prices are starting to go up. Why? The theory is simple – if homeowners see other houses selling for more money, it will encourage them to put their own homes on the market. But until then, these uneven steps in the right direction are as good as it's going to get!