July home sales up in Southern California

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July home sales in California were up 12 percent from the same month a year ago. KPCC's Susan Valot has more from the California Association of Realtors' latest sales report.

July sales in Orange County were up from last year, but only by 7 percent. Inland Empire sales were up 11 percent, just a bit below the average for the state. Los Angeles County had the biggest year-to-year sales jump – nearly 17 percent.

What's selling today is the stuff priced below $500,000. Those homes made up less than half the state's housing market before the credit crunch hit. Now they're three-quarters of it.

There are two reasons for that. First, it's tough to get a big loan to buy an expensive home. And second, most of the people selling expensive homes haven't come to grips with the fact that the price has to go lower before that house is gonna sell.

The California Association of Realtors also says the federal tax credit now available to first-time homebuyers has put a lot of them into the market. That's helped propel sales on the lower end of the price scale. The Association of Realtors wants Congress to extend that credit past its December 1st deadline, and to offer it to all homebuyers.