Southern California’s real estate market got its buying season bump in May with home sales increasing more than 20 percent and the median price hitting a 20-month high, a market tracker said Wednesday.
Sales increased in all six Southern California counties, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.
“The market is being slowly nursed back to health by low interest rates, a modestly improved economy and, we suspect, a widening sense that the housing sector is at or near bottom,” DataQuick President John Walsh said in a statement.
Last month home sales increased 20.6 percent to 22,192 properties from 18,394 a year ago. DataQuick’s count includes new and previously owned houses and condominiums. Los Angeles County did even better, with sales jumping 25.3 percent to 7,496 properties from 5,983 a year ago.
Sales have now increased on a year-over-year basis for five consecutive months with last month’s gain the biggest, DataQuick said.
May’s regional median price increased 5.4 percent to $295,000 from $280,000 a year ago. It was up 1.7 percent from $290,000 in April, DataQuick said.
Last month’s median was the highest since $295,500 in September 2010. The year-over-year gain in the May followed a 3.6 percent annual increase in April. Before then, the median had fallen year-over-year for 13 straight months.
DataQuick attributed the price increase to higher demand, a drop in the number of distressed property sales and more sales in the higher-cost coastal markets.
Last month sales in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura counties represented about 70 percent of all sales, up from 67.6 percent a year ago.
The higher end is finally getting some action, too. Last month sales between $300,000 and $800,000 – a range that would include many move-up buyers – jumped 23.1 percent year-over-year. And sales over $800,000 rose 11.8 percent from May 2011.
“There’s still plenty of uncertainty swirling around out there,” Walsh said.