L.A.County Home Prices: April 2009

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Well, the beat goes on and on…Home prices are still falling, marginally, and the spring/summer sale mood has definitely kicked on. Some, highly desireable, areas, such as Pasadena, are experiencing fast sales and multiple offers, but mainly in the starter homes which in the Rose City means $300,000-$400,000.

For the county as a whole, median values are now $295,000 which, as mentioned frequently here, lacks much meaning for those living in the so-called “desirable” areas since that depressed figure is largely generated from massive losses in a localities-Palmdale [down in one ZIP 57% to an incredible $53,000 median home price], Watts [down 50% in one year to median $130,000], Littlerock [down 52% to $100,000 median] or Compton [down 60% to about $140,000]. In other words, the main pain is being felt either in outlying areas of the county or in traditionally lower-priced sections. These massive drops in value are forcing the median of the whole county down.

So, where are the “desirable” areas which have suffered less? Well, La Verne, for one, is down only 4.6% since last April with a median of a healthy $475,000. Claremont is down only 2% with a median of $545,000. Arcadia is down 7.4% to a median $766,000 in 91006 and UP 11% to a median $929,000 in 91007! Temple City is UP 3.9% to a median of $530,000. Other cities in L.A. County, too, are either showing positive gains over last year or only modest losses–Alhambra is up a tick to median $520,000; Sherman Oaks is up 3.2% to a median of $813,000; Van Nuys is up 4.4% to a median of $473,000 in ZIP 91411, though, admittedly its other ZIPs are all showing losses between 25% to 30%.

Other “desirable” area are quite predictable. Most beach cities are up: Malibu, up 5% to a median $2,000,000; Manhattan Beach up 6% to $1,500,000 median; Redondo, up about 10.5% to a median $990,000 in ZIP 90277 and $708,000 in Zip 90278; Marina Del Rey, up 21% to $955,000, Palos Verdes Peninsula is up 16% over last year to $1,825,000. Only Hermosa Beach has declined a smidge [-5%] to a paltry $1,785,000, based on very few sales. Must be tough!

See the trend? Southern California property is still hot, just not all of it. People are running like mad to buy beach city properties which haven’t been this low-priced in awhile. In fact, there’s a bit of a buying fever in these areas which is also reflected in other affluent cities, such as San Marino [down only 3% to $1.4 million median], parts of Pasadena [91106 up over 60% to a median $800,000, based on very few sales] and certainly Glendale which over its seven ZIPs ranges from up 10% [91202 median $692,000] to down 33% [91204 median $399,000 based on too few sales] to down 4.5% [91205,91206 with medians $528,000 and $578,000] . All of these cities are making respectable showings with hefty median prices, especially when compared to the rest of the country. We are still prohibitively expensive for transferees from other states.

Other parts of the county are down, just moderately…Glendora is down in its two ZIPs about 20% to a median of about $400,000, and sales are numerous and brisk. San Dimas is a great bargain–down 35% to a median $350,000, again with brisk sales. West Covina is down in its three ZIPs about 20% to a median of around $350,000 also with brisk sales. Covina is down a tick below 20% to a median of about $360,000 across its three ZIPs, again with eager buyers recognizing a bargain when they see one.

The worst-hit areas in the eastern part of the county are traditionally working-class where unemployment has hit the hardest–Azusa, down 25% to a median of $250,000. Baldwin Park down 29% to $255,000. El Monte, down about 25% to about $265,000, Duarte down 41% to $260,000. As we have noted over the past year, Pomona leads the way downward with huge drops across its three ZIPs [91768 down 28%, 91767 down 32%, 91766 down 42%] giving medians of $175,000.$205,000 and $159,000–some of the lowest values in the entire county…

The pain is not over, though we can see tiny points of light here and there. Homeowners who are not “upside down” or owing more than the value of their home are well advised to sit tight. Living in a hard-hit area, though, many homeowners have seen their down payments and equity vanish as if by magic. For these homeowners, loan modification or short sale are probably the best bets. Homes that the first to decline and which decline the most are usually the last to recover…unfortunate, but true….

Thanks to The L.A. Times and MDA Dataquick for the data.

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