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Following a months-long hiatus, new signed contracts for Los Angeles County single-family homes increased by 6.1 percent in January, according to a new report from residential real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman.

Last month, 3,219 deals were inked, up 5.6 percent from December. Although the countywide stay-at-home order was in place for most of January, real estate was deemed an essential service and private, in-person showings were allowed to continue.

“Single family new signed contracts rose annually for the first time in three months,” wrote Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc.

The highest concentration of sales fell into the $500,000 to $699,000 range, followed closely by homes priced between $1 million and $1.99 million. New listings plummeted 57 percent over the same period last year, with only 2,096 properties hitting the market in January.

New signed contracts for condos spiked 68.3 percent compared to January 2020. There were 1,259 transactions recorded, a nearly 8 percent boost over the previous month. “Condo’s new signed contract growth continued on a tear, surging above year-ago levels for the fifth straight month,” wrote Miller.

Condos asking between $300,000 and $499,000 represented the largest volume of new signed contracts. The number of fresh listings declined by 21.7 percent annually, totaling 1,025 new for-sale properties. While inventory is a far cry from where it stood one year ago, it has ticked up steadily since the holiday season.

Priced out of the single-family market but wanting to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates, many Los Angeles area homebuyers have turned to condos as a more affordable alternative. While they might not come with private backyards, condos are quickly becoming the new ‘starter home,’ allowing first-time buyers to get on the property ladder and start building equity.

The largest Millennial cohort entered their 30s in 2020, suggesting that the next few years will see heightened homebuying activity, perhaps increasingly so in Los Angeles’ condo segment.

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