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August 28, 2019

Southern California sees strongest July home sales in four years, thanks to lower mortgage rates

Mike Blake | Reuters

Home sales in Southern California jumped more than 6% in July and were 3.7% higher annually, according to CoreLogic. That is the highest July volume since 2015 and the first year-over-year gain for any month since July of last year.

It is, however, nearly 11% below the historical July average.

Mortgage rates in July were significantly lower than they were a year ago, as rates began falling in May and just kept going.

Southern California has some of the priciest local markets in the nation, so affordability is an issue that lower rates are helping to mitigate.

"The gain is no surprise given the significant drop in mortgage rates in recent months, combined with a healthy job market, income growth and a rise in inventory," Andrew LePage, a CoreLogic analyst, said in a release. "The flattening of price growth and lower mortgage rates can make a meaningful difference for some."

While the July median sale price was up nearly 2% year over year, the principal-and-interest mortgage payment on median-priced homes was down nearly 7% due to the drop in rates, according to LePage.

The 2% increase in the median price in July, to $540,000, was the strongest annual gain since November of last year, showing home prices heating up again, possibly also thanks to lower mortgage rates. Price changes, of course, varied depending on location.

"San Diego and Ventura counties posted no annual change and Orange County experienced a slight decline in its median. During the first seven months of this year, the annual change in the region's median averaged out to a gain of just under 1%," LePage said. "Going forward, home prices will be influenced by a variety of factors, including mortgage rates, buyer confidence, job and income growth and inventory levels."

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