Southern California housing market still flat

The Southland’s top real estate research firm says the Southern California housing market was “a little less dysfunctional” in March. That’s about as good as it gets in the latest report from La Jolla-based DataQuick.

DataQuick says home sales in the six Southland counties went up from February to March – but that’s no big deal because they always do. Here’s what matters: sales of all homes are still 20 percent below the norm.

One reason is that home prices have barely moved in the last year. They’re down a little bit in Los Angeles County – the median price in March was 2.7 percent lower than it was last year. But that’s hardly anything.

In Orange and San Bernardino counties, home prices have come down even less – and in Riverside County, they haven’t moved at all in the last year. With the job market iffy and credit tight, a tiny drop in home prices – or no drop at all – doesn’t do much to get the market moving.

What would pump up the flat housing market in Southern California? DataQuick experts say a bigger drop in housing prices would do it – and so would a jump in new jobs.

One more note: foreclosure sales make up about a third of the housing resale market. That hasn’t changed much in the last year – although two years ago, foreclosure sales were more than half of the resale market.

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