UPDATE 1-Homes sales dip in April in Southern California

(Adds comments, more details from report & background)

By Jim Christie

SAN FRANCISCO, May 18 (BestGrowthStock) – Home sales in Southern
California in April ticked down from a year earlier while
median home prices jumped more than 15 percent over the same
period as the area’s housing market made more small steps
toward recovery, a report by MDA DataQuick said on Tuesday.

Sales of new and resale homes totaled 20,299 in Los
Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and
Ventura counties last month, down 0.9 percent from March and
down 1.0 percent from a year earlier, the report by the real
estate information service said.

The median price paid for a home in April in California’s
most populous region was $285,000, the same as in March and up
15.4 percent from a year earlier, the report added.

MDA DataQuick’s report noted that slightly lower sales
activity in April from March and a year earlier along with a
higher median price reflected a shift from “bargain” inland
areas, including some with the nation’s highest foreclosure
rates, to more expensive markets closer to the region’s
coast.

“Last month 19.3 percent of all sales were for $500,000 or
more, compared with 14.8 percent a year ago. Viewed a
different way, zip codes in the top one-third of the Southland
housing market, based on historical prices, accounted for 28.6
percent of existing single-family house sales last month,
compared with 23.2 percent a year ago,” the report said.

Sales of higher-end homes would be stronger and the
regional housing market’s recovery more robust if
adjustable-rate and so-called “jumbo” mortgages were easier to
get, the report said.

Both forms of home financing have become much more
difficult to find since the credit crisis of mid-2007.
California’s double-digit unemployment rate also is curbing
the housing market in the southern part of the state.

“The market’s still taking baby steps on a long road to
recovery, trying to find its footing,” said John Walsh, MDA
DataQuick’s president. “It’s unclear which of today’s sales
characteristics are part of a new reality, and which are still
temporary turbulence.

“The mortgage market, especially for larger home loans, is
definitely dysfunctional,” he added. “Obviously, things would
be different if the job picture were brighter.”
Investment Research

(Reporting by Jim Christie; Editing by Jan Paschal)

UPDATE 1-Homes sales dip in April in Southern California