LOS ANGELES — Southern California’s median home price increased 0.7 percent last month to $287,000 from November 2009, as the weak economic recovery, dormant new-home sales and tight credit conditions kept sales in the doldrums, a tracking firm said Wednesday.
San Diego-based MDA DataQuick said the rise from last year’s $285,000 was the smallest year-over-year increase since prices began to grow from their recession-era depths.
The median in the six-county region rose just 1.4 percent from $283,000 in October, as weak demand among prospective home buyers kept prices depressed.
“Fundamentally home sales remain weak because the job market has been slow to mend and credit policies remain unusually tight,” DataQuick President John Walsh said. “This is the year when the economy sputtered and a lot of potential home buyers opted to sit tight.”
Home sales fell 15.5 percent from 19,181 in November 2009 to 16,208 last month, their lowest for a November since 2007, when 13,173 sold and the second-lowest level for the month since 1992, when 15,446 sold, DataQuick said. Sales declined 3.2 percent from 16,744 in October.
G.U. Krueger, principal economist at research and consulting firm HousingEcon.com Inc., blamed the weak sales on skittishness among prospective buyers.
He said the market hadn’t recovered from last year’s withdrawal of the federal tax credit for home purchases before concerns over improperly handled foreclosure documents began spooking home shoppers.
“The weakness is very much related to the uncertainty of the consumer, especially in respect to the housing market,” he said.
Foreclosures accounted for 35.1 percent of resales last month, up from 34.7 percent in October but down from 39 percent a year ago, DataQuick said.
The availability of bargain-priced foreclosures and short sales has had harsh consequences for the building industry, with new home sales recording their slowest November since at least 1988, when the firm began keeping statistics.
Builders are finding themselves unable to compete on price with the abundance of distressed properties that are selling for less than it would cost just to build new homes, DataQuick said.
Applications for new building permits were down 28 percent in October in the state from the previous year, according to the most recent data available from the California Building Industry Association.
But Krueger said he expected the market to resume the halting but upward trajectory seen earlier this year when the tax incentives were still in effect.
He said the recent easing in applications for unemployment benefits and increased spending by businesses could portend an overall economic improvement that would give a boost to the housing market, although California’s indicators remain behind national trends.
“All we need is a little bit less uncertainty from consumers about where the economy is going and where all this foreclosure stuff is going and I think 2011 will look better than 2010,” he said.