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Southern California's home price gains slowed in December

January 18, 2011 | 10:30 am

Los Angeles home for sale Associated Press

Southern California’s housing market showed signs of weakness in December, with the region’s median price barely improving over last year and prices falling in most individual counties.

The median price paid for a home in the region was $290,000, up 1% from November, and 0.3% from December 2009, according to the San Diego research firm MDA DataQuick.

That was the weakest year-over-year gain in the median -- which is the point at which half the homes in the region sold for more and half for less -- since the closely watched measure began rising in December 2009.

The median sale price fell on a year-over-year basis in the counties of Los Angeles, 2.7%; Orange, 5.7%; San Bernardino, 1.3%; and Ventura, 1.4%. San Diego and Riverside counties were up 0.9% and 2%, respectively.

The median price for the bulk of the region’s housing market -- previously owned single-family homes -- fell from the year before in the counties of Los Angeles, 1.2%; Orange, 6%; and San Diego, 1.4%.

Low mortgage rates and low prices gave the Southland a sales boost in December over November with sales rising 20.5% –- though a sales gains is typical from November to December as home shoppers close deals for the year.

Sales were down 12.5% when compared with the same month last year. A total of 19,528 new and previously owned houses and condominiums sold.

New home sales hit a record low for a December, at 1,528, capping off the worst year for new-home sales since DataQuick began keeping records in 1988.

“Looking back at 2010, it’s hard to ignore the ongoing slump in the Southland’s new-home market. Last year we saw the lowest sales by builders in two decades -– less than half the annual average since 1988," DataQuick President John Walsh said. "What happens next will hinge largely on the pace of the economic recovery and the manner in which lenders manage their inventories of distressed properties, which are competition for new homes.”

Sales of foreclosures accounted for 34.3% of the resale market last month, down from 35.2% in November and 39.6% in December 2009.

-- Alejandro Lazo

Photo: A Los Angeles home for sale. Credit: Associated Press

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