California Home Sales, Prices Decrease in October

California Home Sales, Prices Decrease in October

Residential News » Los Angeles Edition | By Michael Gerrity | November 18, 2015 8:45 AM ET

According to the California Association of Realtors, California's housing market softened in October 2015 as both statewide sales and median price contracted from the previous month.

Home sales exceeded the 400,000 level in October for the seventh consecutive month and posted higher on a year-to-year basis for the ninth straight month. Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 403,510 units in October, according to information collected by C.A.R. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2015 if sales maintained the October pace throughout the year.  It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The October figure was down 5.1 percent from the revised 425,120 level in September and up 1.3 percent compared with home sales in October 2014 of a revised 398,510. The year-to-year increase was the lowest since January 2015 and was significantly below the six-month average of 9.7 percent observed between April 2015 and September 2015.

"The slowdown in October's home sales could be attributed to the financial turmoil and global economic uncertainty that took place in August and September, as some prospective buyers took a wait-and-see approach," said 2016 C.A.R. President Ziggy Zicarelli. "With job growth increasing the most since late 2014 and interest rates remaining below 4 percent, the demand for housing should continue to grow at a modest pace. Statewide sales are on track to finish the year with a mid-single-digit increase from last year."

The median price of an existing, single-family detached California home slipped 1.3 percent in October to $475,990 from a revised $482,150 in September.  October's median price was 5.7 percent higher than the revised $450,460 recorded in October 2014. The median sales price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling as well as a general change in values.

"Housing affordability is an issue in many parts of California, and the impact it has on sales varies from region to region. In the Bay Area, a persistent shortage of homes for sale put upward pressure on housing prices and is now presenting significant affordability challenges to home buyers in the region," said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. "With home prices in the Bay Area averaging more than 7 percent higher than a year ago, we're now seeing the negative effect on sales due to low housing affordability as higher prices have put home buying out of reach for many potential buyers."

Other key points from C.A.R.'s October 2015 resale housing report include:
  • While sales continued to improve from last year at the state level, the number of active listings continued to drop from the previous year. Active listings for California dropped 5.6 percent from September and decreased 7.6 percent from October 2014.
  • While sales were slightly higher from a year ago at the state level, the number of active listings continued to drop from the previous year. The October Unsold Inventory Index remained at 3.7 months for the third straight month, unchanged from September and down from 3.8 months in October 2014. The index indicates the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate. A six- to seven-month supply is considered typical in a normal market.
  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home increased in October to 35.5 days, compared with 32.6 days in September and 38.7 days in October 2014.
  • According to C.A.R.'s newest housing market indicator which measures the sales-to-list price ratio, properties are generally selling below the list price, except in the San Francisco Bay Area, where a lack of homes for sale is pushing sales prices higher than original asking prices.  The statewide measure suggests that homes sold at a median of 98.2 percent of the list price in October, up from 97.7 percent at the same time last year. The Bay Area is the only region where homes are selling above original list prices due to constrained supply with a ratio of 102.2 percent in October, up from 101.2 percent a year ago.
  • The average price per square foot for an existing single-family home was $237 in October 2015, up from $231 in October 2014.  Price per square foot at the state level has been stabilizing in the last few months as the statewide median price began leveling off and slowing to an average increase of 1.4 percent in the past three months.
  • San Francisco had the highest price per square foot in October at $778/sq. ft., followed by San Mateo ($745/sq. ft.), and Santa Clara ($572/sq. ft.).  The three counties with the lowest price per square foot in October were Siskiyou ($115/sq. ft.), Madera ($120/sq. ft.), and Kings and Tulare both at $121/sq. ft.
  • Mortgage rates were unchanged in October, with the 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaging 3.80 percent, down from 3.89 percent in September and from 4.04 percent in October 2014, according to Freddie Mac.  Adjustable-mortgage interest rates also were essentially the same, averaging 2.56 percent in October, down incrementally from 2.59 percent in September but up from 2.41 percent in October 2014.

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