SoCal Home Sales Hit 20 Month High

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.