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Southern California house hunters start 2018 with fewest choices in 5 years

By in Press Enterprise on January 11, 2018

By Jonathan Lansner

Southern California home sellers are starting 2018 like they acted for almost all of last year: In hiding!

Any house hunter seeking an existing home in the four-county Southern California region should take notice: There haven’t been this few options as a year began since 2013. Potential buyers must act quickly or face having the home they’re considering snapped up by others.

And it won’t be easy to decide on such a large purchase when the modest number of owners who are selling are largely in control of the dealmaking. It means frustration for many house seekers and as a result, the homebuying pace is relatively stagnated.

According to ReportsOnHousing statistics, Southern California listings last year ran on average 15 percent below 2016’s inventory. As a result, 23,149 residences were listed for sale as of Dec. 28 — a supply one-fifth smaller than what was available to buy as the previous four years started.

And on top of low inventory’s contribution to heightened competition, do not forget that Southern California bosses have added 830,000 jobs in five years — and that 12 percent increase had created many financially ready-to-buy households.

That strong regional economy also means few have to look for out-of-town work opportunities. That’s a key reason owners are reluctant to sell. Also, the area’s population is aging and older folks tend to move less.

Finances hem in owners, too. Housing’s expensive — CoreLogic’s regional median selling price is at an all-time high — so many owners don’t see the financial motivation to become sellers.

Mortgage rates have risen a bit, so a seller could face bigger house payments in buying another home. New federal tax laws may discourage other sellers, too.

And the inventory shortfall can be a self-reinforcing factor: If you sell your residence, can you even find another home nearby to buy?

Here’s one example […]    

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