Real estate prices continue to decline, Downey’s values hold steady

Home prices in California continued to decline in July as low interest rates failed to prop up the state’s depressed real estate market, according to data released Tuesday.

Home prices statewide were down 0.4 percent from June and down 6.8 percent from last year, according DataQuick, a San Diego-based real-estate tracking company.

While the firm did not provide city-by-city breakdowns, realtors in Downey said prices here dipped slightly, but were performing better than surrounding cities.

Downey’s median home price was $345,000 in June, the most recent month when data was available.

“They’re slightly down from June to July,” said Realtor Mario Acevedo of Century 21 My Real Estate Co. in Downey. “But if you look year over year compared to July of last year, we’re up a little.”

Most of Acevedo’s customers are are either first-time home buyers or investors looking to fix and sell shabby properties, he said.

Mortgage rates are at some of the lowest levels in history.  A 30-year fixed mortgage rate is about 4.3 percent, with a monthly payment on a $350,000 house coming to about $1,400 if buyers made a 20-percent down payment.

For first-time buyers, buying a home makes financial sense, he said.

“It’s becoming more beneficial to own than to rent,” Acevedo said. “(Buying a home) is doable, even in Downey. As far as me personally,  I am seeing a lot more activity.”

While Whittier over the last year has seen a 14-percent price decline to a median price of around $300,000, Downey’s median home price has held almost steady. The 90240 zip code has faired substantially better than the 90241 zip code, according to DataQuick.

That high demand has priced most investors out of Downey.

“I have about 50 properties where I am working with investors, but only about three properties are in Downey,” he said. “The rest are in other surrounding communities.”

Statewide, about half of all home sales in July were considered distressed, meaning the property was somewhere in the foreclosure process or was a short sale, according to DataQuick.

The median home price hit a low of $221,000 in April 2009. The high was $484,000 in early 2007.

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