Autumn brings shorter days, brisk weather, and historically, a home-buying chill to Los Angeles County.
When my trusty spreadsheet looked at the seasonal fluctuations in monthly DQNews statistics dating back to 1988—which has been tracking 3.21 million sales for more than a third of a century—September is certainly the start of a six-month cooling trend.
Of the six Southern California counties, all had average sales declines in 33 years this “off” season (September to February), while the other “prime time” half of a year (March to August). Only Riverside and San Bernardino counties benefited from their average value.
Off-season purchases have been 16% below prime-time homebuying momentum. This drop helps explain why prices are down 72% in September, compared to 9% since the start of March.
You don’t need a spreadsheet to know that people generally don’t like buying homes around the start of school and the holiday season. But it’s important to remember that there’s a good chance there is lethargy ahead.
Weather knowledge can be helpful when charting home buying trends in the coming months. And assuming historical trends, the challenges of the housing market – from high prices to limited options – could escalate over the slow-selling, autumn-winter period.
Watch the seasonal fluctuations and what house hunters pay: Over 33 years, countywide average prices in LA decreased by an average of 2.4% in the off-season months, while prime time increased by 7.8%.
So what does history tell us about month-to-month pricing and sales patterns in LA?
September: The price fell 64% this month in 33 years. Average one-month change: 0.51% drop since 1988. Sales fell by 91%; 10% average drop.
October: 58% drop in prices; 1.02% average drop. sales fell by 45%; 1.1% average growth.
November: 30% price drop; 0.62% average growth. sales declined 88%; 10.3% average drop.
December: 33% drop in prices; 0.03% average drop. sales fell 15%; 12.3% average growth.
January: 79% price drop; 1.87% average drop. sales fell 100%; 25.6% average decline.
February: 39% drop in prices; 0.42% average growth. sales fell 70%; 2.7% average decline.
March: 3% price drops; 3.38% average growth. sales fell 0%; 37.5% average growth.
April: 12% price drop; 1.2% average growth. sales fell by 45%; 1.1% average growth.
May: 21% drop in prices; 1.05% average growth. sales declined 18%; 6.5% average growth.
June: 15% price drop; 1.56% average growth. sales declined 21%; 7% average growth.
July: 42% drop in prices; 0.09% average growth. Sales fell 64%; 3.6% average decline.
August: 33% drop in prices; 0.29% average growth. sales declined 42%; 2.8% average growth.
Elsewhere in Southern California, here’s how the house hunting season has been since 1988…
Six-county area: 1.8% average price drop and 16% short sales.
Orange County: 1% average price drop and 18% short sales.
Riverside County: 1.7% average price gain and 15% short sales.
San Bernardino County: 0.6% average price gain and 11% short sales.
San Diego County: 0.8% average price drop and 18% short selling.
Ventura County: 3.1% average price drop and 17% short selling.
Jonathan Lancer is a business columnist for Southern California Newsgroup. He can be contacted at [email protected]