Southern California agents, brokers and sellers are pinching themselves to wake up from their shared nightmare of home sales dropping -20.3% in December from one year ago.

CoreLogics gives us the specifics of these annual plunging sales figures (a total of 15,781 units – one third fewer than the average 23,445 units typically sold in December) in Southern California’s six counties:

County                        Median Price              Sales        

Los Angeles               $581,500 +2%          5,291 -20%

Orange                        $708,500 +1.6%       2,260 -26%

Riverside                    $380,000 +4.1%       2,938 -14.6%

San Bernardino                  $329,750 +2.1%       1,992 -21.5%

San Diego                   $550,000 +1.9%       2,642 -22.2%

Ventura                      %575,000 +2.1%     658 -13.5%

Andrew LePage, CoreLogic’s analyst, thinks that December’s sales drop reflects a variety of factors: mortgage rates hitting a 2018 high in October and November that affected December closings; stock market volatility creating a blowback in high-end markets; and some “…would-be buyers remaining priced out or unwilling to buy amid concerns that prices have overshot a sustainable level.”

Other data points worth paying attention to in Southern California’s housing market include:

  • Median home price of $515,000, just $5,500 higher than in December 2017
  • A listing inventory uptick of +23% for the year ending in December 2018, according to Zillow
  • An uptick of 78 days on the market in 12/18 from 72 days on the market in 12/17 in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties, according to Zillow
  • More wannabe buyers failing to qualify and failing to get prequalification letters from lenders.

Ralph McLaughlin, CoreLogic’s deputy chief economist said, “It’s too soon to tell but December was a bit of a yellow flag that maybe housing is slowing down.” McLaughlin wants to wait to see how the market fares through the three months of Q1 2019 before he predicts whether or not this slowdown will continue through the spring, housing’s peak selling season.

Steve Thomas, author of the Orange County-based Report on Housing is less circumspect in his predictions for Southern California’s spring market than McLaughlin. He said, “It’s not going to be the robust spring market everybody was accustomed to from 2012 – 2018.”