Southern California real estate statistics show that since early 2007, the housing market has been in the hands of the property buyers. Since then, Southern California real estate prices have fallen, and along with those prices, interest rates have dropped as well. This has prompted more people to buy property in 2008 compared to 2007. Sixty nine percent of Southern California real estate buyers claimed that lower prices encouraged them to buy, and 31% cited the low interest rates as their main motivation to make a move.
What some of the causes were for the downturn in the Southern California real estate market were poor underwriting of contracts, leaving buyers unaware and unprepared for fluctuating interest and mortgage rates, which lead to an increase in foreclosures and lender owned properties. Drastically increasing food and gas prices also were devastating to many buyers who had then come to no choice but to foreclose on their home. The increase in costs of living also made potential buyers unable to buy a home or postponing purchasing a home. These trends together resulted in a large increase of empty, available homes and people who could not afford to buy them.
Since there has been such an increase in the number of homes available for purchase in the Southern California real estate market, this has led to a wide array of choices and variety of homes for buyers to choose from. Buyers in 2008 spent much more time searching for a home than they have in previous years. In 2007, buyers spent an average of about 5 weeks looking for a home, while this year, the average amount of time browsing the market is about 8 weeks. In 2006, Southern California buyers had only spent an average of 2 and a half weeks searching for property. Traditional buyers, those not doing searches and virtual tours online to find a home, also visited twice as many homes before they purchased one this year.
Because of the large variety of choices and the uncertainty of what direction the housing market will be moving in, potential homeowners are also taking more time to purchase a home than they have in years past, and they are more cautious about the process as well. In conclusion, Internet buyers also spent more time searching through homes before contacting an agent in 2008, averaging 8 weeks, as opposed to traditional buyers, who searched the old fashioned way for 3 1/2 weeks before having a realtor step in. This year, 19% of Southern California real estate buyers were first time homeowners. They spent an average of almost 10 weeks with their realtor before buying a house, and in 2007, first time homeowners had only spent about 6 weeks searching before choosing one.