The Mortgage Corner

Southern California home sales rose sharply in October as move-up buyers joined investors, according to San Diego-based DataQuick, shifting the mix of homes selling upward as foreclosure resales hit a five-year low. Southern California’s real estate market bucked the typical fall slowdown last month, with buyers snapping up pricier homes and sales roaring up 18 percent over the prior month.

Sales hit a three-year high for an October, rising 25 percent from the same month last year. The median sale price for a Southland house last month was $315,000, equal to September and up 17 percent from October 2011, according to DataQuick.

Sales rose sharply in most mid- to-higher-cost markets. Sales between $300,000 and $800,000 – a range that would include many move-up buyers – jumped 41.5 percent year-over-year. October sales over $500,000 rose 55.2 percent year-over-year, while sales over $800,000 rose 52.4 percent compared with October 2011.

Gary Wood’s analysis of Santa Barbara County’s MLS sales including Carpinteria/Summerland, Montecito, Hope Ranch, downtown Santa Barbara and Goleta through October 2012 were similar. Sales rose to 100 from 83 in September. The median sales price also came up from $750,000 in September to about $815,000 in October with escrows rising from 94 to about 120 for the month. The median list price on those escrows showed the biggest upswing—going from $762,540 to almost $900,000.

Year over year, the numbers of sales are still way up with about 1,050 transactions completed compared to 780 last year. The median sales price is basically unchanged but down just a little from $800,050 in 2011 to about $795,000 now. The escrows are also still way up from 841 last year to about 1,150 this year while the median list price on those escrows has risen a little from about $825,000 last year to approximately $830,000 now.

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Graph: RealtyTrac

Foreclosure resales – properties foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 16.3 percent of the Southland resale market last month. That was down from 16.6 percent the month before and 32.8 percent a year earlier. Last month’s level was the lowest since it was 16.0 percent in October 2007. The foreclosure resales had hit a high of 56.7 percent in February 2009 during the Great Recession.

The delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties fell to a seasonally adjusted rate of 7.40 percent of all loans outstanding as of the end of the third quarter of 2012, a decrease from the second quarter of 2012, and a decrease of 59 basis points from one year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) National Delinquency Survey.

“Mortgage delinquencies decreased compared to last quarter overall, driven mainly by a decline in loans that are 90 days or more delinquent,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics. “The 90 day delinquency rate is at its lowest level since 2008, and together with the decline in the percentage of loans in foreclosure, this indicates a significant drop in the shadow inventory of distressed loans-a real positive for the housing market. The 30 day delinquency rate increased slightly, but remains close to the long-term average for this metric.  Given the weak economic and job growth in third quarter, it is not surprising that this metric has not improved. ”

And foreclosures nationwide are declining as well, mostly in the 26 so-called non-judicial states that enable Trust Deed auctions, such as California and Texas. This was the largest decline in foreclosure inventory ever recorded. Judicial states’ foreclosure inventory was at 6.61 percent, and the non-judicial states’ inventory was at 2.42 percent, reports the MBA.

Harlan Green © 2012