Vanishing inventory props up SoCal home prices

Pricing could start falling if larger economic tumult forces sellers’ hands

TRD LOS ANGELES /
Apr.April 24, 2020 10:15 AM
Home prices in Southern California are holding steady for the time being because there’s fewer homes hitting the market.
Home prices in Southern California are holding steady for the time being because there’s fewer homes hitting the market.

A dearth of new home listings has stabilized home pricing in Southern California this month, but that might not last.

New data from Zillow suggests that the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures have put Southern California’s housing market in stasis, according to the Los Angeles Times. The number of deals are way down, but pricing hasn’t started to fall yet because fewer homes are coming to the market for the first time. Some sellers are even pulling their listings.

For the week ending on April 19, there were 60 percent fewer contracts in Los Angeles and Orange Counties year-over-year.

Inventory was already falling before the pandemic hit. Just 14,200 homes hit the market in L.A. County in January, 22 percent fewer than January 2019. That led to a rise in pricing.

It remains to be seen how long homeowners can hold on without being forced to put their properties on the market. Another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total to around 26 million people.

A flood of listings could bring prices down and there’s some indication that pricing is starting to move down in the short term. The median list price for both counties was around $857,000 — roughly 7 percent lower than mid-March, but still 7 percent higher than last year.

Appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel earlier this week told The Real Deal that he was optimistic current market conditions would yield pent-up demand from buyers and sellers. He compared the frozen market to the early days of the Great Recession. “By February or March 2009, you did have home sales recovering and crowded open houses,” he said. [LAT]Dennis Lynch


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