Compass SoCal July 2019 Real Estate Market Update

Across the majority of Los Angeles communities, median home prices increased again in July with the overall increase averaging about 4 percent compared to last year. Some communities in Mid City, Los Angeles saw even stronger increases in median home prices as sales of higher-priced homes picked up again. In contrast, some of the more affordable Los Angeles communities saw relatively lower price growth as affordability constrains many would-be buyers.

The number of homes sold in Los Angeles communities continued to show some improvement from the winter lull, though some areas on the East Side and in the North San Fernando Valley saw relatively stronger slowdown in sales.  West Side communities generally recovered from the slow spring.

The strongest gain in sales was among homes priced between $1 million and $2 million, with generally most communities seeing the growth. Lower priced sales are again facing lack of available inventory after a period of more availability earlier this summer. Sales of homes priced above $2 million also bounced back from a hesitant start to the year and are generally trending in line with last year’s numbers.

The pace of sales continued to improve, and homes generally sold in 30 days, which is only five days slower than last year’s 25 day median. Nevertheless, East Side and communities northeast of Downtown Los Angeles saw a relatively larger increase in days on market compared to last year. East San Fernando Valley saw swifter sales than last year, as did Malibu which continues to recover from the post-fire slowdown.

Buyers are being encouraged by lower mortgage rates, though that’s not their main concern at the moment. It seems that buyers are relatively more constrained than last year, but their optimism has improved from earlier this year. Buyers signed a solid number of contracts in July, suggesting August will be another solid month for Los Angeles housing market activity.

Click here to see more Los Angeles region market statistics for July.

Posted on August 31, 2019 at 9:57 pm
Christine Navarro | Posted in Housing Info |

Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety

Earthquake preparedness is not only a precaution but a necessity for those who live in Los Angeles. Whether you are already aware or not, it’s always a good idea to be prepared by planning ahead. The Earthquake Country Alliance recommends seven steps to earthquake safety which are easy to follow. Here are the step-by-step instructions for staying safe before, during and after an earthquake:

Before the next big earthquake, follow these four steps to help you, your family, or your workplace better prepared to survive and recover quickly:

Step 1: Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items. Click here for detailed instructions on how to secure these items.

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Step 2: Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency. Click here for instructions on how to make a disaster plan.

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Step 3: Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations. Click here for a list of recommended items for your household disaster supplies kit.

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Step 4: Minimize financial hardship by organizing important documents, strengthening your property, and considering insurance. Click here for a list of important documents to add to your “Grab and Go” bag in case of emergencies.

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During the next big earthquake, and immediately after, is when your level of preparedness will make a difference in how you and others survive and can respond to emergencies: 

Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On when the earth shakes. Taking the proper actions, such as “Drop, Cover, and Hold On,” can save lives and reduce the risk of injury, click here to learn more.

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Step 6: Improve safety after earthquakes by evacuating if necessary, helping the injured, and preventing further injuries or damage. It is important take action quickly and safely the moment the ground stops shaking, click here for more detailed instructions on when to evacuate and what to do if you get trapped.

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After the immediate threat of the earthquake has passed, your level of preparedness will determine your quality of life in the weeks and months that follow: 

Step 7: Reconnect and Restore. Restore daily life by reconnecting with others, repairing damage, and rebuilding community. Click here for more information on what to do days and weeks after an earthquake.

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Click here for the Staying Safe Where The Earth Shakes booklet developed by the Earthquake Country Alliance, California Earthquake Authority, and California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. For more up-to-date earthquake information considering signing up for Earthquake Notification Service (ENS) from the USGS website, available here. And if you would like to learn more about what items to include in your Emergency Food Supplies kit, here is the link to an information pamphlet created by FEMA and the American Red Cross. Be safe and have a great summer everyone!


Posted on July 29, 2019 at 7:54 am
Christine Navarro | Posted in Safety |

Compass SoCal May 2019 Real Estate Market Update

Overall median home prices remained virtually unchanged in 2019. About half of communities observed saw increases while the other half saw declines. The rate of increases was relatively lower than seen at the same time last year. Generally, most of the increases in home prices are driven by areas remain relatively more affordable while higher priced areas saw some declines from last year’s cyclical peaks.

In addition, the number of homes sold in Los Angeles communities showed some improvement in recent months bringing the number of sales on par with last year’s April-May period. Slower sales continue to characterize West Side communities, while communities north, west and east of Pasadena saw some annual pick up in sales.

There are generally more homes for sale available across the region and across price ranges, however the rate of increase in available inventory has slowed some. Availability of relatively more affordable homes has helped with increase in sales over the last few months. Malibu continues to be impacted by lack of homes for sale following last year’s fires.

Homes are also selling at a faster pace than earlier in the year, though still slower than at this time last year when strong buyer demand fueled faster sales. In May, homes generally sold in 31 days, up from 24 days last May, though still equaling historical averages. Relatively slower sales pace continues West of 405, but also within some markets that were relatively busy last year, such DTLA and NELA.

Again, while buyers remain relatively more hesitant than last year, April and May have showed renewed enthusiasm among buyers who would love to make a purchase but are worried about a correction. Sellers who are willing to negotiate with buyers are having better luck selling their homes. An increasing number of homes were under contract over the last two months as well, compared to the same period last year.

Contact me for more Los Angeles region market statistics.

Posted on June 29, 2019 at 11:26 pm
Christine Navarro | Posted in Housing Info |

Summer Fun Under the Moon, the Stars and the Sun

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to get excited for the upcoming events all around Pasadena. From sampling culinary delights at Rose Bowl Final Friday Food Truck festival, to learning about tea etiquette at The Langham’s Children’s Tea Program, and enjoying Music Under the Stars at City Hall, there are fun fill activities for everyone.


Final Fridays Food Truck Festival at the Rose Bowl

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If you haven’t already ventured to the Rose Bowl on the last Friday of the month for their Food Truck Festive, be sure to check it out soon. The food truck lineup for this Friday’s event include: Border Grill, Rice Balls of Fire, Belly Bombz, Hungry Belly, The Chicken and Rice Guys, Robin’s Wood Fire BBQ, Triple Threat Truck, The Tropic Truck, Chicken Tenders, Pizza, Fish Tacos, Dreamy Creations, Auntie Anne’s, Kona Ice, and Gelato Vegan popsicles! Additional activities to include foot golf, outdoor games, moon bounces, photo opportunities, tours of the Rose Bowl Stadium, and live music from Dylan Dunlap, Flavia and Undecided Future. So bring a blanket, have a picnic, and enjoy the sunshine. The event will run from 4:00pm to 9:00pm. Admission and parking is free. Entry to the event is through north Lot K. Click here for more info.


Summer Events at The Langham

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Starting in June, The Langham will be hosting a variety of summer events for everyone. For film enthusiasts, check out their Film Tour, where filming locations explorer Jared Cowan guides you on a walking tour of the grounds to reveal the many films and television shows that have incorporated the classic Pasadena landmark hotel into their productions. For wine connoisseur, check out their Summer Wine Series to experience afternoon wine tastings hosted by the winery partner of the month at the Horseshoe Garden. For family fun, check out their Children’s Speciality Tea Programs. From June 9th to September 15th, the Langham will have three special children’s tea programs – afternoon tea, imagine tea, and etiquette tea. Reservations are required. Click here for more information.


Music Under the Stars

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If music is your passion, check out these two upcoming outdoors music event, both happening on Saturday, June 1st. Enjoy live music from the Pasadena Symphony and POPS at the steps of City Hall. They will be playing hit songs from films such as My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly, Gigi and other classic shows. While the event starts at 6:00pm, go early to check out the gourmet food trucks parked nearby. Closer to the shopping areas in Old Town, KCRW Summer Nights will also have live music in One Colorado with Harriet Brown and KCRW DJ Garth Trinidad. The events starts at 7:30pm but be sure to go early for a good seat, and grab a bite from one of the many One Colorado courtyard patio restaurants. Click here for more info on summer events in Pasadena.

Posted on May 30, 2019 at 7:02 am
Christine Navarro | Posted in Events |

Real Estate Roundup: Record Weekly Mortgage Rate Drop

Here’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious.

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Fixed-rate mortgages last week saw their biggest one-week drop in a decade, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly rate survey.

Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.06 percent, down from 4.28 percent last week, and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.57 percent, down from 3.71 percent. Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.75 percent, down from 3.84 percent last week.

Last year at this time, 30-year mortgages averaged 4.40 percent, 15-year mortgages averaged 3.90 percent, and five-year ARMs averaged 3.66 percent.

“The Federal Reserve’s concern about the prospects for slowing economic growth caused investor jitters to drive down mortgage rates by the largest amount in over ten years,” Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Sam Khater, said in a statement accompanying the mortgage rate survey. “Despite negative outlooks by some, the economy continues to churn out jobs, which is great for housing demand. We have recently seen home sales start to recover, and with this week’s rate drop we expect a continued rise in purchase demand.”


Two out of three people say now is a good time to buy a home, and according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors conducted during the first quarter of 2019, and confidence in the U.S. economy remains strong.

The NAR’s quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey found that 65 percent of respondent believe now is a good time to buy a home, with 37 percent saying they strongly believe now is a good time to buy — up from 34 percent in the last quarter of 2018 — and 28 percent expressing moderate confident.

The survey also found that 53 percent of those polled said that the economy is improving, down from 59 percent at the end of last year. Optimism in 2019 is the greatest among those who earn $100,000 or more and those who live in rural areas. Fifty percent of Generation X respondents said the economy is improving, while 42 percent of urban area residents reported the same.

Several factors are helping to improve the attitudes of potential homebuyers, said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist. “First, inventory has been rising, so those buyers interested in making a purchase will not be limited in choices. Additionally, more stable home price trends are leading to more foot traffic at various open house gatherings.”

Mortgage affordability has also been more favorable for homebuyers than in recent quarters, Yun said.

“The Federal Reserve’s decision to refrain from any foreseeable rate hikes was beneficial to potential buyers,” he said. “That move directly contributed to mortgage rates declining in quarter one, which provided a second-chance opportunity to those looking to buy who were priced out last quarter.”


The Wall Street Journal reports that the Federal Housing Administration is tightening its rules, amid a growing concern that mortgage lenders are increasingly making loans to borrowers who can’t repay them, leading to a spike in defaults.

The FHA, which insures mortgages for first-time buyers, told lenders in March that it would begin examining certain loans more closely, likely identifying more of them as high risk. Mortgages to borrowers with low credit scores and high loan payments relative to their incomes will now go through a more rigorous underwriting process, the agency said.

The Journal report noted that the FHA’s decision to tighten underwriting standards could mean fewer first-time home buyers are able to get mortgages.


Posted on April 27, 2019 at 6:40 am
Christine Navarro | Posted in Housing Info |

Compass Southern California Quarterly Report: Q1 2019


It is my pleasure to introduce the Compass 2019 Q1 Real Estate Market Report.

Following many uncertainties in economic and housing outlooks across the regions, buyers in many  Los Angeles neighborhoods took a step back and entered the market with great trepidation, ready to step away at any signs of concern. As a result, home sales activity generally posted declines compared to the first quarter of 2018.

Buyers continued to look for value, however, and demand remained consistent in some sought after communities in Northeast L.A., Greater Pasadena and Mid L.A/Baldwin Hills communities. Buyers were not however in a rush and took longer to make  offers, extending the number of days on the market.

Buyers also benefited from more options of homes available for sale, though that was more likely to be the case in communities East of 405 than in  West Side communities. Nevertheless, buyer reluctance did lead to more price reductions and median prices rising generally slower than last year or showing some weakness compared to first quarter last year.

Overall, the quarter ended with more buyer enthusiasm than it started with, promising a solid spring home-buying season.

Metro Los Angeles

(Atwater, Downtown L.A., Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake – Echo Park)

While the number of single-family homes on the market declined compared to last year, condominium sales were strong in all Metro Los Angeles communities except in Downtown L.A. – which was constrained by low inventory. Average home prices weakened compared to last year, except in Downtown L.A. and  condominiums in Hollywood. Buyers generally took longer to purchase, except for condominiums in Los Feliz.


(Alhambra, Altadena, Pasadena, San Gabriel, San Marino, South Pasadena)

The number of homes sold in the Pasadena area mostly trended below last year, except in South Pasadena where single-family sales increased. The average prices, however, didn’t hold up in South Pasadena while condominium prices jumped. Average home prices varied notably across the region, and buyers took about a week longer to purchase a home, except for condos in South Pasadena and Alhambra.

La Cañada Flintridge

(Atwater, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, La Crescenta/Glendale/Montrose/Sparr Heights, Sunland/Tujunga)

While home sales activity generally slowed in the La Canada Flintridge region, homes in Atwater remained in strong demand. Changes in average prices varied with relatively more expensive single-family homes in La Canada Flintridge lowering in average sales price compared to last year. Sellers of single-family homes in Atwater were quickest to receive an offer on their homes generally selling them in about 33 days, while sellers in the other areas waited relatively longer.

Northeast Los Angeles

(Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Highland Park, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Mount Washington)

Home sales activity in Northeast Los Angeles generally slowed in the first quarter, except in Glassell Park where more homes were sold compared to last year. Average home price changes varied a lot across the region, though Mount Washington saw the most notable increase in average prices, up 16 percent. Changes in average days on market varied as well, though sellers in Eagle Rock, Glassell Park and Monterey Hills saw their homes snatched up quicker than last year.

East San Gabriel Valley

(Arcadia, Azusa, Bradbury, Monrovia, Monterey Park, Sierra Madre)

Homes sales activity in East San Gabriel Valley were driven by affordability, with more affordable areas such as Azusa and condominiums in Monrovia gaining in sales activity while other areas experienced less activity compared to the first quarter last year. Average prices were a mixed picture with Arcadia and Sierra Madre posting declines among both single-family and condominiums while single-family homes in Azusa, Monrovia and Monterey Park posted solid gains.


Posted on April 27, 2019 at 6:21 am
Christine Navarro | Posted in Housing Info |

Viewing Wildflowers in Southern California

Wildflowers are in full bloom in Southern California thanks to a very rainy winter. In some areas, wildflower are so abundant it renders the term superbloom, as multiple hillsides are blanketed with bright wildflowers. While of the phenomenon can be seem all over the internet through various social media channels, the experience is not the same as an in-person visit. Here is a list of few areas that you can still visit before the season is over.


1. Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore

Photo courtesy of Michael Juliano

The superbloom is in full force at Walker Canyon drawing many visitors from all over the world.  Bright orange poppies that densely line the rolling hills of the canyon gives it a natural glow. Visitors looking to visit during the weekend should take note that the trail is only accessible via a shuttle. Check out the city of Lake Elsinore’s website for more info.


2. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Photo courtesy of CC/Flickr

For this location, peak poppy season is usually between March and April. At the moment, there are many patches of poppies and other wildflowers in bloom in and around the surrounding areas of the park. Check the park’s website for the latest bloom status.


3. Malibu Creek State Park

Photo courtesy of CC/Flickr/pwever

Despite the Woolsey Fire that devastated Malibu Creek State Park, the abundance of rainful this past winter has helped bring new life to the area. Recent hikers to the area are finding patches of greens sprouting and flowers blooming on the hillsides. Not to anyone looking to bring their dog along for the viewing, park regulations states that dogs are not allowed on the park trails, fire roads, or in the back country. Check out the park’s website for more info.

For more general information on Southern California wildflowers, check out the Desert USA website for their Southern CA – Wildflower Reports. Additionally, the Wild Flower Hotline provides a new report recording every Friday, call 818 768-1802, ext. 7, or visit their website here. Happy flower viewing!

Have you visited any of the sites mentioned above? Which was your favorite? How did you experience this year compare to previous superblooms?


Posted on March 31, 2019 at 9:37 am
Christine Navarro | Posted in Events |

California Home Sellers Want 2017 Prices, but Buyers Are Patient in 2019

California housing markets are at a critical juncture at the beginning of 2019. After experiencing the tightest market conditions seen over the past three years in the first half of 2018, the number of homes sold in the Bay Area and Los Angeles has continuously declined since mid-2018. In January 2019, the year-over-year decrease in home sales continued at double-digit-percent rates, with the three-month average decline in the Bay Area at 16 percent and Los Angeles down by 18 percent. In other words, over the last three months, about 1,100 fewer units sold on average per month than last year in Los Angeles, while the Bay Area averaged about 700 fewer sales.

The decline in sales activity comes amidst sustained economic strength, improved inventory levels, and more recently, stable mortgage rates. Nevertheless, it is clear that financial-market volatility, trade-war concerns, last year’s mortgage-rate jump, and the government shutdown have weighed on consumer sentiment and housing decisions.

Sellers have noticed the cooling buyer demand, which has led them to change their pricing expectations. But even with more price reductions, added inventory, and lower mortgage rates, buyers are not as confident as they were last spring.

So how will California housing markets fare in the spring of 2019?

Los Angeles: Figure 1 illustrates the same set of market indicators as used in Figure 1 for the greater Los Angeles area. Clearly, market dynamics follow very similar trends as seen in the Bay Area. After reaching the tightest point in the spring of 2018 — when price appreciation accelerated to 14 percent and reductions bottomed out at 15 percent — the market took a turn, as both median price growth and sales dropped significantly. However, unlike in the Bay Area, Los Angeles didn’t start to post inventory increases until the fourth quarter of 2018, leading to an earlier annual decline in home sales than was observed in the Bay Area.

Sellers felt the buyer retreat in the second half of 2018, which led to the highest increase in price reductions seen in at least the last three years, peaking at 34 percent in December 2018 before falling to 30 percent in January.

Figure 1: Home price reductions, sales changes, and median price changes in greater Los Angeles, March 2016 through January 2019

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, Feb. 5, 2019


To bring buyers back to the market in both the Bay Area and Los Angeles, median home prices will likely need to return to levels seen at the beginning of the 2018 spring homebuying season. With price reductions leading to a January slowdown in appreciation of 2 percent to 3 percent, and mortgage rates also returning to early 2018 levels (see Figure 3), buyers now enjoy more favorable conditions than they did in the second half of 2018. However, with total 2018 median price growth of 12 percent compared with 2017 in the Bay Area and 8 percent in Los Angeles, many buyers have exited the market and are unwilling to purchase homes until they see larger price reductions and cooling home price growth.

For sellers, hanging on to 2017 pricing expectations will likely result in multiple reductions and increased time on the market, which itself may lead to sales prices that are below actual fair market value. In high-end markets, where homebuying decisions are more subjective than those based on affordability, buyers are focused on fully renovated homes that are priced at market value, as opposed to buying in anticipation of further price gains to rationalize their purchases.

In conclusion, while a dismal end to 2018 branded California housing markets with a big question mark in 2019, many conditions have shifted in favor of buyers: lower mortgage rates, slower price growth, more inventory, and less competition. If sellers rethink their expectations, the spring homebuying season could start strong.

Figure 2: U.S. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, January 2018 through February 2019

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, Feb. 5, 2019


Article by: Selma Hepp is Compass’ Chief Economist and Vice President of Business Intelligence. Her previous positions include Chief Economist at Trulia, senior economist for the California Association of Realtors, and economist and manager of public policy and homeownership at the National Association of Realtors. She holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning and Design from the University of Maryland.


Posted on February 26, 2019 at 4:31 pm
Christine Navarro | Posted in Housing Info |

Los Angeles Homebuyers Should See a More Favorable Market in 2019





Executive Summary:

  • Total Los Angeles home sales in 2018 were 11 percent below 2017, with the decline driven by fewer sales below $1 million, down by 18 percent. Higher-priced sales fared similar to 2017.
  • Fewer sales were seen across the region except for in South L.A. and Malibu.
  • The year 2018 saw a strong increase in sales priced between $1 million and $2 million in Mid L.A./Baldwin Hills and Northeast L.A., both up by about 70 percent from 2017.
  • The region’s 20-month year-over-year decline in inventory finally reversed in the fourth quarter of 2018 and posted an 8 percent annual increase, though inventory still falls below fourth- quarter levels observed in 2016 and 2015.
  • While more inventory was seen in the San Gabriel Valley communities of Pasadena, Eastern Cities, South of 210, and the East Valley, West L.A., the West Side, and Silicon Beach also saw supply gains. In contrast, more affordable areas of South L.A. and the Eastside posted inventory declines.
  • Importantly, the inventory of homes priced below $1 million increased by 6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2017 — which translates to 251 homes — largely from the East Valley, the Southbay, and West LA.
  • While the year started strong, it ended with a notable decline in buyer competition, leading to fewer homes selling for more than asking price. In December, only 30 percent of homes sold for premiums, down from May’s four-year peak of 48 percent.
  • Sellers have adjusted their expectations, as price reductions reached a four-year high of 33 percent in December, compared with an average of 26 percent seen in last three Decembers.
  • Los Angeles’ 2018 median home price increased by 8 percent on an annual basis.
    • While price growth varied, Foothilll Communities posted the largest annual increase of 21 percent
    • The Eastside, South L.A., Mid L.A./Baldwin Hills, West L.A., the Westside, and Malibu all posted double-digit percent price increases, while Beverly Hills and the Hollywood Hills ended 2018 with median prices on par with their 2017 levels.
  • With more inventory, lower mortgage rates, and more price reductions, buyers are looking at a relatively more favorable 2019.

While occasionally showing confidence in 2018, Los Angeles homebuyers had a difficult year grappling with rapid home price growth, continually declining inventory, and higher mortgage rates. As a result, total home sales were down by 11 percent year over year in 2018. Fewer home sales were recorded across most Los Angeles communities except Malibu, which posted a 6 percent increase in sales over 2017, and South L.A., with a 1 percent increase.

The decline in activity was mostly driven by fewer sales of homes priced below $1 million, which dropped by 18 percent from the previous year. However, areas with relatively more inventory in that price range throughout the year fared better, such as South L.A. and the Eastside.

Among sales of homes priced between $1 million and $2 million, which remained on par with 2017, two areas showed particularly strong increases in sales: Mid L.A./Baldwin Hills and NELA, both up by about 70 percent from 2017. Both areas have seen high buyer demand over the last couple of years, driving the median price to above $1 million. NELA for example, saw 80 percent of homes sell for more than asking price at the end of 2017, which fueled price growth in 2018.

The growth of sales in the $2-million-to-$3-million range also posted a slight increase over 2017, up by 3 percent. And while sales growth dominated in Mid L.A./Baldwin Hills and NELA, the surge came on the heels of very low levels in 2017. The West Valley, the Southbay, West L.A., and the East Valley also saw relatively more sales of homes priced between $2 million and $3 million.

For homes priced above $3 million, a relative jump in sales appeared South of 210 and in Downtown L.A. and the East Valley, again an increase that followed very low previous levels. Figure 1 summarizes year-over-year changes in the number of home sales in 2018 compared with 2017 by price range and Los Angeles neighborhood. The last column indicates year-over-year changes in December. Los Angeles posted a 21 percent year-over-year decline in sales in December, which were widespread throughout the region, though some of the largest decreases were in areas closer to the beach and those affected by the Woolsey Fire — Malibu and Beach Communities in particular.

Figure 1: 2018 versus 2017 overall change in sales by price range and Los Angeles neighborhood; December year-over-year total change in sales

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, Jan. 7, 2019

However, slower 2018 sales activity was largely driven by a 20-month trend of falling year-over-year inventory, which started around the beginning of 2017. The declining inventory trend finally reversed in the fourth quarter of 2018, when most regions started to see an increase from the year before. And at the end of the year, there was on average 8 percent more inventory compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. Nevertheless, even with the last quarter’s increase, inventory still falls below fourth-quarter levels recorded in 2016 and 2015.

A relatively larger buildup in inventory was seen in the San Gabriel Valley communities of Pasadena, Eastern Cities, South of 210, and the East Valley, along with West L.A. the West Side, and Silicon Beach. However, some communities continued to post annual declines in inventory, namely Malibu areas, a trend that may have been driven by the aforementioned wildfire. Inventory declines were also dominant in South L.A. and the Eastside, both areas perceived as more affordable and where 2018 sales activity remained relatively consistent with 2017.

Figure 2 illustrates changes in fourth-quarter year-over-year inventory by Los Angeles community and price range. While all price ranges posted more inventory, the supply of homes priced between $1 million and $2 million saw a relatively larger increase compared with the end of 2017, up by 15 percent. Only Malibu and the Hollywood Hills lacked more inventory in this price range. And for homes priced above $2 million, while increases appear larger in areas like Mid L.A., the increase comes off of a low base. The overall supply increase in the Los Angeles region was driven by more homes on the market from Beverly Hills toward western part of Los Angeles.

Most importantly, though, is to finally see more inventory for homes priced below $1 million, as the region struggles with lack of affordability. In the fourth quarter, the inventory of lower-priced homes increased by 6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2017, which translates to 251 properties. And while the relatively largest increase was in Eastern Cities, up by 44 percent; West L.A., up by 26 percent; and Brentwood, up by 20 percent, the largest contribution to the increase came from the East Valley (up by 78 homes), the Southbay, (up by 60 homes), and West L.A., (up by 52 homes).

The increase in lower-priced inventory is again a welcome reversal of trends and should help encourage some prospective buyers who have been sitting on the sidelines.

Figure 2: Fourth-quarter year-over-year change in inventory by Los Angeles community

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, Jan. 7, 2019

Further, the stalling housing market conditions that characterized the end of 2018 were driven by number of uncertainties, including political jitters, financial volatility, and concerns over the future of economic growth, but also by consumer perception that housing market has peaked. Consequently, buyer hesitance at the end of the year helped reset seller expectations and rebalance the relationship between the two sides. In other words, the competitive buyer spirit that characterized the first half of 2018 — when almost half of homes in Los Angeles sold over the asking price — waned in the winter. Figure 3 illustrates the three-year trend of the percent of homes that sold for more than asking price. In December, only 30 percent of homes sold for premiums, and while seasonal declines over the last three Decembers generally led to a similar rate, 2018’s decline was relatively larger — 18 percentage points, down from a 48 percent peak in May.

Figure 4 highlights the changes in the share of homes selling for premiums between May and December 2018 by local community. Buyer caution was most notable in Foothill Communities, with a 38-percentage point decline in homes selling for premiums, from 64 percent in May to 26 percent in December.

Figure 3: Share of Los Angeles homes that sold for premiums over the past three years

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, Jan. 7, 2019

The resetting of seller expectations is also reflected in more price reductions that were seen at the end of 2018. Figure 5 illustrates the three-year trend of the percentage of homes that sold with a price reduction, which reached a multiyear high December at 33 percent. Again, the previous years’ Decembers generally posted seasonal highs that averaged around 27 percent. Figure 4 also illustrates the changes in the share of homes that sold with a price reduction between May and December by Los Angeles community. The buyer-seller rebalancing was again most notable in Foothill Communities, with a 35 percentage point increase in price reductions, from 13 percent in May to 48 percent in December.

Figure 4: Changes in the number of homes that sold for premiums and price reductions by Los Angeles community

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, Jan. 7, 2019

Figure 5: Share of Los Angeles homes that required price reductions over the last three years

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, Jan. 7, 2019

Lastly, with the market rebalancing and more inventory, pressure on home price growth slowed considerably during the winter, from the year’s high of $960,000 in June. Los Angeles’ median price, however, still increased by 8 percent overall in 2018.

Figure 6 illustrates the multiyear trend of greater Los Angeles median home prices, which ended the year at $880,000, up from $850,000 last December. Most notable is the seasonal increase in 2018, which drove up prices to $960,000. And while home prices do show a seasonal uptick during spring and summer months, 2018’s increase was relatively larger than the gains seen in the previous three years.

Figure 6: Los Angeles median home price changes over the past three years

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, Jan. 7, 2019

Median home price changes, as usual, varied considerably across the region. Figure 7 illustrates median home price changes in December by Los Angeles community and overall 2018 change compared with 2017. Again, while slowing after last summer, December’s median price posted a 4 percent increase over last December and an 8 percent overall gain in 2018. An area that stands out with more than a 20 percent increase in median prices are the Foothill Communities. Communities that also saw double-digit-percent appreciation in 2018 include the Eastside, South L.A., Mid L.A./Baldwin Hills, West L.A., the West Side, and Malibu. In contrast Beverly Hills and the Hollywood Hills ended 2018 with median prices on par with their 2017 levels.

Figure 7: Year-over-year median home price change by Los Angeles community, December 2018 and 2018 overall

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, Jan. 7, 2019

In conclusion, housing activity in Los Angeles ended 2018 with less enthusiasm than it began. There were overall fewer total sales in 2018. However, it’s important to keep in mind that inventory shortages persisted through most of the year, holding back many buyers who were looking for a home. Also, the significant price growth that dominated the early part of year was not sustainable for much longer and to a large degree turned off many prospective buyers.  Thus, the rebalancing of seller and buyer expectations was inevitable.

Nevertheless, normalizing trends are a welcome change, as is the increase in affordable inventory. Also, with the recent declines in mortgage rates and the anticipation by the Federal Reserve and its observers to see only one rate hike in 2019, Los Angeles buyers are looking at a relatively more favorable year and more certainty around mortgage rates.

Uncertainties remain though, as do questions around the government shutdown and its impact on housing and the overall economy. In California, the federal government employs 245,400 people, representing 1.4 percent of employed residents. And while that is a smaller share than in some other parts of the country, it is still an important part of the economy and represents a significant number of prospective Golden State homebuyers.


Article by: Selma Hepp is Compass’ Chief Economist and Vice President of Business Intelligence. Her previous positions include Chief Economist at Trulia, senior economist for the California Association of Realtors, and economist and manager of public policy and homeownership at the National Association of Realtors. She holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning and Design from the University of Maryland.


Posted on January 28, 2019 at 4:36 am
Christine Navarro | Posted in Housing Info |

Winter Holiday Fun

If it feels like the year is coming to an end all too quickly and you haven’t had the chance to check out the festivities around town, don’t worry, there is still time. If you are in town this holiday season, here are some local festive events happening in the area that you definitely don’t want to miss.

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For the Christmas spirit, check out festive lights on Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena. Recognized as the largest oldest large-scale outdoor Christmas lights display in the world, the “Mile of Christmas Trees” are strung with over 10,000 lights. Christmas Tree Lane is located on Santa Rosa Avenue between Woodbury Avenue and Altadena Drive.   Take a drive with the family or park nearby and take a stroll along the trees to view the colorful lights.

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If you’re looking for more festive viewings of bright and colorful lights in the evening, there is also the Moonlight Forest at the Los Angeles Arboretum and the Enchanted: Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens, both of which are still going on until January 6th. The Moonlight Forest offers lantern art in shapes of lively animals, shimmering flowering, and fantasy creatures such as dragons.  Check out their website for more information. 

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The Enchanted: Forest of Light at the Descanso Gardens is another spectacular display of lights and visual art to experience. Each year during the holidays, the Descanso Garden is transformed into an enchanted forest with whimsical lighting installations. A one-mile path, intended for nighttime viewing, is also filled with interactive exhibitions for everyone in the family to enjoy.  Check out their website for more information.

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If you’re looking for festive activities during the day, consider visiting the Kidspace Museum.  They will have Snow Days from Wednesday, December 26th to Sunday, December 30th.  But what is a snow day you ask?  Kidspace offers you a chance to play in snow, to make a snowman, snowballs, snow angels and more.  Tons of snow are trucked in for this annual event, so bring your scarf, hat and gloves for a real winter experience.

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Additionally, for those of your who have little ones, the museum will have a special Noon Year’s Eve event on Monday, December 31st from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Join in on the “almost” new year celebration with live music, dancing, party hats and a massive ballon drop at noon. Here is a link to their website for more information.

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As for New Year’s Day festivities, don’t miss Pasadena’s 130th Annual Tournament of Roses on January 1, 2019. While the Tournament of Roses encompasses several events, the two most popular events are the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game.

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The Rose Parade is set to start on January 1st at 8:00am. The parade route is 5.5 miles (9 km) and begins at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard. The parade travels north on Orange Grove Boulevard and then turns east onto Colorado Boulevard. Near the end of the route, the parade turns north onto Sierra Madre Boulevard and concludes at Villa Street.  The event lasts about two hours, and there are grandstand seating and free curbside seating throughout the parade route. 

Prior to the parade, be mindful that road closures take effect by 10:00pm the night prior on Monday, December 31st, and will remain closed until 2:00pm on Tuesday January 1st of 2019. Click here for more information on road closures. Post parade, the floats are parked along Sierra Madre and Washington Boulevards for you to get an up close look. There, the intricately decorated floats span over two miles for viewing from Tuesday, January 1st starting at 1:00pm to Wednesday, January 2nd.

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The Rose Bowl Game starts shortly after the Rose Parade at 1:00pm. This year marks the 105th year of the game, and will feature a traditional matchup of teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12, Ohio State Buckeyes vs Washington Huskies. Will you be going to the game?  Which team will you root for?

Posted on December 23, 2018 at 12:09 am
Christine Navarro | Posted in Holiday |