November Ushers in Big Chill for Home Sellers

December 12, 2010

By Max Zimbert 

The Los Angeles County housing market slowed significantly in November as home sales fell 21 percent compared with a year earlier and condos sales sputtered even more. Just 3,423 homes were sold during the month after adjusting for the number of selling days, down from 4,315 units in November 2009, according to HomeData of Hicksville, N.Y. As would be expected as winter approached, sales were off 9 percent from October. The median price showed little movement, rising slightly to $349,000, about where it was in the summer.

The California Association of Realtors, in a report issued Nov. 23, stated that the housing market is being slowed statewide by sellers who are having difficulty adjusting to the new reality of the housing market.

“We’re really seeing two different housing markets: one at the lower end driven by first-time buyers and investors, which is keeping prices stable, and one with nostalgic sellers who set unrealistic asking prices,” said association chief economist Leslie Appleton-Young in the report.

Michael Nourmand, president of residential brokerage Nourmand & Associates, which has offices in Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Hollywood, said that sales in the upscale neighborhoods that are his primary business have strengthened.

However, he agreed that buyers and sellers in once up-and-coming neighborhoods like Silver Lake and Los Feliz are having a harder time adjusting to the new market.

“I find the stuff that’s less expensive selling the best. I think a lot of what’s selling are the tear-downs and fixers,” Nourmand said.

He added that sellers are facing newfound competition from the rental market, which is no longer carrying the same stigma it once held.

“It’s not throwing away money anymore. No one thought that prices could go down or you could invest your money in something better than real estate,” he said.

In the condominium market, 1,239 units were sold on an adjusted basis, off 24 percent from November 2009. The median price fell $20,000 year to year to $285,000. The median price of a condo has not been that low since January 2004 when it was $280,000.

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