The Los Angeles Times reports from California. “Southern California home buyers continue to turn their backs on an expensive market with few houses for sale. Home prices fell 3.8% in January compared with December, though the median price remained up sharply compared with January of last year, DataQuick reported. The price decline, coupled with falling sales, revealed a market that has lost momentum after an explosive price run-up in the first half of 2013. ‘Buyers are not overpaying,’ said Broker Derek Oie, owner of Century 21 the Oie Group in the Inland Empire. ‘They know the market has changed.'”

“January’s median home price, $380,000, is the lowest since May. ‘The pause is related to a deterioration in affordability,’ said Stuart Gabriel, director of UCLA’s Ziman Center for Real Estate. ‘The urgency to buy has essentially evaporated.'”

The Press Enterprise. “DataQuick reported that San Bernardino County lost even more ground in January with its 1,910 home sales falling 10.9 percent from the 2,137 sales in January 2013. Riverside County saw a 9.9 percent loss with 2,576 home sales in January, down from 2,858 the year earlier. Faring the worst in January on home sales was San Diego County, which had been pepper-hot while Inland regions sputtered toward recovery. There, sales fell 13.9 percent.”

“Inland economist John Husing said sales are down, and not only because of tight inventory. That’s been the case for some time. Sales are down because the pool of buyers and sellers shrank, Husing said. ‘On the buyers’ side one year ago, the market was being driven by investors,’ he explained. ‘If price is up, they don’t see the capital gains possibilities they did before. They’re backing off. And, the gap is not being filled by families looking for homes.'”

“On the supply side, Husing said homeowners have been recovering value in their homes, but equity has not appreciated enough to give them a lot of incentive to sell. ‘Another reason homes are not selling is the caution that people are taking.’ They are unwilling to move around, he said, commenting: ‘The economy still has them generally spooked.'”

From Globest. “Despite the recent slowdown in housing prices and sales volume, as well as the looming specter of higher mortgages, panelists at Arixa Capital Advisors’ recent first investment roundtable in Orange County were surprisingly sanguine about the future prospects for the single-family market. John McMonigle, principal and founder of the McMonigle Team, added that the Pacific Rim buyer, often from China, has been a positive factor in supporting home prices. He added that these buyers are interested in a particular product with new construction in master-planned communities, rather than eclectic older homes.”

“Emile Haddad, CEO of FivePoint Communities supported McMonigle’s statement by saying said that 70% of the 280 homes he has sold in the Great Park Neighborhoods master-planned community since October 2013 have been to Pacific Rim buyers. He added that concerned regime members and business owners in China will continue to move their money out of the country in anticipation of a slowing Chinese economy, which may lead to political instability in the future.”