DQ News -- "The Southland housing market posted the highest number of February home sales in five years as record levels of investor and cash buyers helped spur robust activity under $300,000. The median price paid for homes across the six-county region inched up from January but dropped below the year-earlier level for the 12th consecutive month.
A total of 15,573 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was up 7.2 percent from 14,523 in January, and up 8.4 percent from 14,369 in February 2011.
Here are some interesting highlights:
1. Sales did not rise across the price spectrum last month. Transactions below $300,000 rose 9.5 percent from a year earlier, while the number of $300,000-$800,000 deals dipped 0.8 percent year-over-year and sales above $800,000 fell 12.6 percent.
2. Distressed sales continued to make up more than half of the resale market. Foreclosure resales – properties foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 32.5 percent of the resale market last month, down from a revised 32.6 percent in January and down from 37.0 percent a year earlier. Foreclosure resales hit a high for the current cycle of 56.7 percent in February 2009 and a low of 31.6 percent last November.
Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – made up an estimated 20.5 percent of Southland resales last month. That compares with 21.1 percent in January, which was a high point for the current real estate cycle, and 19.7 percent in February 2011.
3. Absentee buyers – mostly investors and some second-home purchasers – bought a record 29.7 percent of the Southland homes sold in February, up from a revised 28.0 percent in January and 26.4 percent a year earlier.
4. The typical monthly mortgage payment that Southland buyers committed themselves to paying was $998 last month, compared with $983 in January, which when adjusted for inflation was the lowest in DataQuick’s records back to 1988. Last month’s figure was down from $1,174 for the same month last year. Adjusted for inflation, current payments are 56.9 percent below typical payments in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. They are 64.7 percent below the current cycle’s peak in July 2007 [of $2,827].