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Bad News Dept.: Home Sales Still Seriously in Crapper

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The LA-area real estate market is basically showing no signs of recovery, reports the Los Angeles Times. April was especially foul, with sales down 9.2 percent from April 2010, making last month the lowest April for sales in three years. Home prices also dropped 1.8 percent to an average of $280,000 in southern California. New homes are faring very poorly as bargain hunters are rummaging among short-sales and foreclosures. Meanwhile, the real estate industry actually saw a small increase in new jobs; the story indicates real estate professionals are working harder to get your sale. Interest rate buy-downs, where more cash up-front brings your rates down, are becoming popular, as are lenders covering closing costs (the LAT mentions that KB Home offered chocolates during Mother's Day weekend--there's your incentive to sign on the line for a $300K house). The move-up buyer who sees his/her house appreciate and then buys a more expensive abode has all but disappeared in this area, according to the story, and unlike in some places like Chicago and Houston, it's still generally cheaper to rent in greater LA than to buy. Speaking of rentals, Bloomberg Businessweek has a story on people richer than you and us buying up rental buildings in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and Holmby Hills as "trophy apartments" and driving up prices.
· April Home Sales in SoCal Hit Three Year Low for the Month [LAT]
· Beverly Hills Lures Wealthy Investors Seeking Trophy Apartments [Bloomberg Businessweek]