Brokerage reports quantify drop in LA housing market

One agent call it a “stagnant, neutral market,” favoring neither buyers nor sellers

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(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

Housing sales have declined more than 35 percent in the last year in Los Angeles County, according to multiple brokerage reports.

According to a recent report from Douglas Elliman, home sales in February declined about 38 percent year-over-year in the county. However, there was an uptick in home sales in February. There were 2,013 closed sales for single-family homes in February, compared to 1,565 closed sales in January, the report found.

A statement from the Elliman Report said that the month-to-month increase in Los Angeles County home sales was the highest amount in three years.

But February’s uptick in home sales may reflect a temporary market, said Tim Gavin, founder of The Gavin Team at Keller Williams in Beverly Hills. 

“Home buyers were coming out of the holidays. They realized that home prices weren’t going to drop the way many anticipated. Interest rates aren’t going to move the way many were hoping, and they had to buy a house. But the surge has come to a head, and we’re in a very stagnant, neutral market,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride this year.” 

He said neither buyers nor sellers have an edge in the market, and agents have to deliver bad news on both sides of the transactions.

Agents often must persuade sellers that their aspirational pricing of a couple of years ago will drive away the current market’s buyers. On the other hand, with such low inventory, agents often find themselves telling buyers with so few houses on the market, the buyers may have to settle for ones that are available, Gavin explained.

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A recent CoreLogic report also presented a glum picture of Southern California’s market. It said that home sales were the lowest in more than three decades.

In January, home sales were down 43.6 percent to 3,097 transactions in Los Angeles County in a year-over-year comparison. In Orange County, January home sales checked in at 1,291 transactions, down 41.1 percent in a year-over-year comparison, according to media reports on CoreLogic’s research. The markets have been battered by low housing inventory and high interest rates, according to the reports.

The February Elliman Report also noted that new listings declined about 16 percent in L.A. County. In February, there were 1,686 new listings, compared to February 2022, when there were 2,018 new L.A. County listings. Listings also declined in a month-to-month comparison. In January 2023, there were 1,826 new listings; in February, there were 1,686 new listings.

A National Association of Realtors reading of the market echoed the most recent Elliman Report. There were monthly gains in home sales juxtaposed against yearly declines. NAR’s Feb. 27 release said there were upticks in pending home sales comparing December to January numbers; however, in year-to-year comparisons, business has dropped. 

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, forecast that home sales will continue to decline. 

“Home sales activity looks to be bottoming out in the first quarter of this year, before incremental improvements will occur,” Yun said in a prepared statement. “But an annual gain in home sales will not occur until 2024. Meanwhile, home prices will be steady in most parts of the country with a minor change in the national median home price.”

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