First Time Home Buyers: Buyin Now While the Buyin is Good

The home real estate rollercoaster continues. Home sales climbed 43.1 percent in the Los Angeles area in April, compared to the same period a year ago, while the median home price fell 31 percent, according to figures released today. For first time home owners buying smaller homes though, some experts suggest the bottom may be near.

The median price of an existing single-family home in Los Angeles was $300,690 in April, compared to $295,100 the previous month and $440,000 last year, according to the California Association of Realtors.

"It appears that the median price is now at or near the bottom," said CAR Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. "Favorable home prices in many parts of the state have led to an increase in affordability for first-time buyers. In the first quarter of 2009, affordability rose to 69 percent, enabling many to take advantage of first-time buyer programs and near record-low interest rates.”

"Inventory levels for homes in the under $500,000 segment shrank to nearly three months in April, compared with almost 10 months a year ago, while unsold inventory in the more than $1 million segment rose to approximately 17 months, compared with roughly 10 months in April 2008," CAR President James Liptak said.

"The dramatic difference in inventory exemplifies how the low end of the market is attracting more first-time buyers and investors, creating a shortage of distressed properties for sale," he said.

In Orange County, home sales increased 13.3 percent in April, compared to the same month last year, while the median home price was $380,000, down 25 percent from $507,000 in April 2008.

Statewide, home sales increased 49.2 percent in April, compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home declined 36.5 percent, according to CAR's report.


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Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during April were:

-- Santa Barbara, $870,000;

-- Los Gatos, $870,000;

-- Newport Beach, $853,500;

-- Santa Monica, $820,000;

-- Cupertino, $811,000;

-- Danville, $725,000;

-- Arcadia, $686,090;

-- Redondo Beach, $660,000;

-- San Clemente, $659,500;

-- San Ramon, $630,000; and

-- San Francisco, $625,000.

Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in April compared with the same period a year ago were Laguna Hills, 23.1 percent; Encinitas, 1.1 percent; and Alhambra, 0.5 percent.

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