California Distressed Sales Remain High | DSnews

Southern California’s distressed home sales – the combination of foreclosed home sales and short sales – made up more than half of February’s resale market.

Foreclosure resales accounted for 37.1 percent of resales last month, up from 36.8 percent in January but down from 42.4 percent a year earlier.

Short sales were an estimated 19.8 percent of SoCal’s February resales, up from an estimated 19.7 percent in January and 18.4 percent last year.

While foreclosure resales hit a low of 32.8 percent in June, they’ve since trended higher. Foreclosure resales peaked at 56.7 percent in February 2009.

Absentee and cash buyers – primarily investors – are purchasing these homes in record numbers.

Absentee buyers bought a record 26.1 percent of the Southern California homes sold in February, paying a median $198,000. Since 2000 when absentee data began, absentee buyers have purchased a monthly average of 16.2 percent of all homes sold.

Cash buyers accounted for a record 31.7 percent of February home sales, paying a median $200,000.

According to DataQuick, the February cash level was the highest for any month since 1988 at the start of data gathering.

“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,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

Walsh added, “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.”

Walsh predicts that this spring will see an infusion of more traditional buyers into the market who aren’t necessarily purchasing with an investor mindset.

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