Buyers are advised to find foreclosure homes in Inland Southern California where house prices continued to fall in December 2009 compared to price levels in 2008.

Investors can take advantage of lower prices before market recovery pushes prices up. According to Southern California economist John Husing, the housing market in the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside is recovering and that the median home sales price in the region has bottomed out. He added that there could be price fluctuations as lenders pursue their delayed pre foreclosures, but any price decline would not be as steep as in 2008 and 2009.

The median sales price in Riverside in December last year was $196,000, down by 6 percent from December 2008 while the price median in San Bernardino was $154,000, a 14.4-percent drop over a 12-month period. The sharpest price decreases in the two counties occurred in February last year when prices plunged in San Bernardino by 47 percent and by 42 percent in Riverside.

Esmael Adibi, an economist at Chapman University, said that counties in the Inland region of Southern California will experience a slower pace of housing market improvement because they suffered more severe foreclosure rates. But he added that as investors continue to find foreclosure homes and reduce Inland inventory, price levels would improve in the coming months.

In the four other counties in Southern California, the median sales price increased not because of increase in home values, but because of the rise in sales in upscale communities, according to a real estate research company. More homes were sold in December in the high-end neighborhoods of Santa Monica, Newport Beach and Beverly Hills, where the number of homes sold was insignificant in 2008.

Economist Adibi, however, contended that home prices will fall further in higher-cost neighborhoods in Southern California in 2010 as prices in lower income communities – which have already experienced volumes of sheriff sales and sharp price declines in 2008 – continue to level off. The percentage of houses priced more than $500,000 increased to 20 percent of all home sales in December, marking a jump from 16 percent in December 2008 and the highest percentage since August 2008, when 24 percent of total sales accounted for upscale homes.

Because of the still large number of bank-repossessed homes in the listings of real estate brokers in December, buyers can certainly find foreclosure homes at attractive prices in Inland Southern California.

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