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Local Real Estate Market Still Sluggish

Prices and home sales drop in February.

Home sales in Riverside County dropped 11.2 percent in February, compared to the same month a year ago, while prices dipped by 1 percent, a real estate information service reported today.

A total of 2,842 homes changed hands locally last month, compared to 3,199 in February 2010, according to La Jolla-based MDA DataQuick. The median price of a home in Riverside County in February was $195,000, down from $197,000 in February 2010.

A total of 14,369 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in February, according to DataQuick. That was down 0.6 percent from 14,458 in January, and down 6.4 percent from 15,359 in February 2010.

"The January and February sales data can be interesting, but we always caution that historically they've been a poor barometer for the rest of the year,'' DataQuick President John Walsh said. "What the past two months do tell us is that lots of people have bet, often with cash, that housing at today's prices will prove a solid investment.

"This spring we'll see an infusion into the market of more traditional
buyers, who aren't necessarily purchasing with an investor mindset. If the stars line up right -- low prices, low mortgage rates, available credit, higher job growth and higher consumer confidence -- we could see sales shoot back up to more normal levels,'' he said.

The median price for a Southern California home was $275,000 last month, up 1.9 percent from $270,000 in January, and unchanged from $275,000 in February 2010, according to DataQuick. --City News Service

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