Photo by Danika Perkinson on Unsplash

December is typically a slow month for real estate. Holiday parties and family vacations tend to take precedence over home showings and mortgage applications.

But this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused us to press ‘pause’ on many of our holiday traditions, Angelenos continued shopping for moderately priced condominiums. 

In December, new signed contracts for condos surged 28.1 percent compared to the same month last year, according to the latest report from residential real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman. Across Los Angeles County, there were 1,163 transactions, most of which were in the $200,000 to $399,000 range. This was only slightly less than November when 1,209 deals were inked. 

Priced out of the red-hot single-family housing market, but wanting to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates, first-time buyers turned to condominiums instead. Last month, new listings in this segment increased by 11.5 percent year-over-year.

While that might seem like promising news for bidding-war-weary buyers, inventory has actually been on the decline since October. December 2020’s apparent inventory uptick can be attributed to the fact that the last month of the year is historically bad for new listings.

New signed contracts for single-family homes, which amounted to 3,043, were down 11.3 percent from the month before and 22.1 percent over December 2019. The highest concentration of sales was in the $400,000 to $499,000 range, although the bulk of new listings were priced well above that, typically over $800,000.

New listings plummeted 47.8 percent over the same period last year, representing 1,320 for-sale properties. Ultra-low inventory has plagued the Los Angeles County housing market since October when COVID-19 cases began to spike. Sellers are less motivated to list their homes during these uncertain times when moving or finding a new property of their own has become increasingly difficult.

Despite the sales slowdown in the single-family market, buyer demand for condos and detached homes remained high in December. “New inventory for both property types fell sharply, helping maintain the robust market pace,” wrote Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc.

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