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Welcome news for homebuyers: Prices went down in January

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But low supply may keep them from dropping further

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The median LA County home price in January was $565,000.
Michael Gordon | Shutterstock

Buying a house in Los Angeles County got ever-so-slightly cheaper in January, according to a new report from real estate analyst CoreLogic.

The median sale price for the month dropped from $570,000 in December to $565,000—a reduction of nearly one percent. Median prices are still $40,000 higher than they were one year ago, suggesting that the area’s housing market is still on the upswing.

Across all of Southern California, January’s median price of $507,000 was 0.5 percent lower than the December median of $509,500—an all-time high for the region. The slight dip in value isn’t unexpected; prices typically drop by about 2.8 percent between December and January, according to CoreLogic.

That means that, even though homebuyers paid less in January than they did the month before, prices were still a bit higher than one might have expected, given the seasonal changes that typically affect the real estate market.

CoreLogic analyst Andrew LePage says that an “ongoing mismatch between housing supply and demand” may be keeping prices high even at times when buyers can usually expect to find bargains.

LePage says this is particularly true at the lower end of the market, where starter homebuyers are finding few options within their price range. One result of this is that the number of total homes sold in Los Angeles is also down. In January, 4,847 homes changed hands in LA County. That was down from 6,613 in December and 5,188 in January of 2017.

Going forward, experts predict that low supply will continue to keep sale prices high, barring an economic downturn. That could make things tough for anyone shopping around for a house in LA, where prices reached all-time highs in 2017.