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Los Angeles-Orange County homebuying plummets 44% to record low

Homebuying froze in Los Angeles and Orange counties in November, plunging sales 44% to a record low as house payments jumped 53% or more.

Sales totaled 5,878 in the two counties, down 4,686 from November 2021, according to data from CoreLogic. It was the slowest November in records dating to 1988 and the second-biggest 12-month decline. Closed transactions for single-family homes and condos, existing and new construction ran 43% below the average November since 1988.

Economic skittishness, especially soaring inflation, and pricier home loans have frozen the housing market. Surging mortgage rates also cut buying power by 35% in a year, making the region’s high home prices even more unaffordable.

Southern California home sales drop to one of lowest levels on record

Let’s look at where the L.A.-O.C. cooldown was most intense, starting with November’s sales.

Los Angeles County had 4,118 sales, down 11% in a month and 44% lower in a year. Orange County had 1,760 —  down 17% in a month and 45% lower in a year.

Next, consider how prices moved.

In Los Angeles County, the $785,000 median was down 2% in a month and 1% higher in a year. It’s also 9% off the $865,000 record high set in April 2022.

Orange County had a $960,000 median —  up 1.1% in a month and 5% higher in a year. It’s also 9% off the $1,054,000 peak of May 2022.

Payment pain

Pricier financing is clearly a culprit.

The 30-year mortgage averaged 6.8% vs. 3.1% 12 months earlier. Here’s what my trusty spreadsheet tells us about how the rate jump changed a typical homebuyer’s house payment …

Los Angeles County: Buyers got a $4,094 estimated cost per month for the $785,000 median vs. $2,669 a year ago on the $781,100 median, 53% higher.

Orange County: Buyers got a $5,007 payment on $960,000 median vs. $3,126 on a year ago’s $915,200 – 60% higher.

Single-family homes

Sales: Los Angeles County’s 2,866 transactions were down 12% in a month and 44% lower in a year. Orange County’s 1,004 sales were down 17% in a month and 49% lower in a year.

Prices: Los Angeles County’s $830,000 median was down 2% in a month and 2% lower in a year. Orange County’s $1,062,000 median was down 4% in a month and 3% higher in a year.

Condos

Sales: Los Angeles County had 911 units sold —  down 13% in a month and 50% lower in a year. Orange County had 453 units sold —  down 22% in a month and 51% lower in a year.

Prices: Los Angeles County’s $637,000 median was down 3% in a month and 1% lower in a year. Orange County’s $680,000 median was down 3% in a month and 4% higher in a year.

New homes

Sales: Los Angeles County builders sold 255 —  down 4% in a month and 28% lower in a year. Orange County had 301 sold —  down 8% in a month and 4% lower in a year.

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Prices: Los Angeles County’s $841,500 median was down 6% in a month and 8% higher in a year. Orange County’s $1,070,000 median was up 12% in a month and 13% higher in a year.

Builder share: Los Angeles County’s 6.2% last month compares to 4.8% 12 months earlier. Orange County’s 17.1% last month vs. compares to 9.8% 12 months earlier.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com

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