SLO County housing market rebounds, data show

jhickey@thetribunenews.comFebruary 6, 2013 

TRIBUNE STAFF

San Luis Obispo County’s housing market last year turned the corner from the recession, according to the latest data.

Median prices for homes sold in the county grew for 10 of 12 months in 2012 over year-earlier periods, DataQuick reported. In 2011, they fell year-over-year for 10 of 12 months.

SLO County sales finished strong last year, with a 14 percent jump in home prices over the previous December and 334 homes sold — the highest sales number for a December since 2005.

February 2012 saw the lowest average monthly median housing price posted since the recession: $314,750. By December 2012, the price had grown to $390,000, a year-over-year increase of 15 percent compared with December 2011.

However, December 2012’s average home price was still 33 percent lower than the June 2006 price peak of $585,000.

The number of homes sold fluctuates seasonally, which is why numbers are compared with the same months year over year. However, prices are less affected by seasonality, said analyst Andrew LePage of DataQuick.

The San Diego-based company monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers; educational, public and lending institutions; and industry analysts.

Its research shows that 2012 was a year of recovery statewide. San Luis Obispo County was no exception.

“Home values increased through most of 2012, and the rate of increase picked up toward the end of the year,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president, in a recent news release.

“That means fewer and fewer homeowners are underwater, where they owe more than their homes are worth. That in turn means they can sell and pay off the mortgage, or perhaps refinance at today’s low interest rates.”

The number of California homeowners pushed into the foreclosure process fell last quarter to the lowest level in six years, the result of rising home values, an improving economy and a shift toward short sales.

For the fourth quarter of 2011, SLO County saw 359 notices of default. This past fourth quarter, that number dropped 38.4 percent to 221.

DataQuick also tracks sales numbers and prices for specific categories, including new homes, condos and resale homes.

About 82 percent of the homes sold in the county during December were resale single-family homes. Those sales grew 9.1 percent year-over-year to 276. The median price grew 7.3 percent year over year to $395,000.

The median is the midpoint of home prices, where half of the residences sold for more and half for less.

The median price of resale detached homes has risen year-over-year for the past eight consecutive months. “Usually when you see the median sale price rise on a year-over-year basis for six months or more it’s a strong sign of meaningful price gains,” LePage said.

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