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SoCal Home Sales Are Way Down; Prices Are Not

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A for sale sign hangs in front of a house in Central Los Angeles. (File photo by Christopher Okula/KPCC)
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Southern California home sales were down more than 30% last month compared to April 2019 according to the housing data firm CoreLogic. That's the biggest percentage drop in sales since 2008.

April was the first full month of California’s statewide stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The last couple months have been a rollercoaster for Los Angeles-area realtor Ryan Ole Hass.

"For a while there we couldn't show any property. Then it went to, we could show vacant property. Then it went to, we can show non-vacant property but we have to follow all the CDC, and a bunch of other, guidelines."

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There are still no open houses, he said. And he's telling clients to hold off on moving, if possible, because he doesn’t want them to take an unnecessary risk.

It's impossible to predict when home sales will bounce back, said Richard Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. He said before people start house hunting, they’ll need to feel okay about going out.

"I think a great indicator is going to be Open Table [restaurant] reservations,” he said. “That's an indicator of how comfortable people are."

Green said he’s also watching unemployment data. “A high rate of unemployment, that’s going to depress the housing market ... and then the other question is, 'How many of these jobs that people have lost have been lost permanently?'”

Green expects it could take years for sales to fully recover. The one bright side? Home prices have remained pretty stable because supply and demand are equally low.

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