(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- Home sales increased 9 percent in August in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home declined 16.9 percent, the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) reported today.
"First-time buyers continue to be the driving force in home sales throughout the state," said C.A.R. President James Liptak. "The federal tax credit, which has helped more than 1.4 million people become first-time homeowners nationally, is set to expire Nov. 30. The tax credit is a proven economic stimulus that clearly is working, and should be extended through 2010 and expanded to include all home buyers," Liptak said.
Existing, single-family home sales increased 9 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted rate of 526,970 on an annualized basis.
The statewide median price of an existing single-family home increased 2.6 percent in August to $292,960, compared with July 2009.
C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index fell to 4.3 months in August, compared with 7 months in August 2008.
Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 526,970 in August at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local Realtor associations statewide. Statewide home resale activity increased 9 percent from the revised 483,400 sales pace recorded in August 2008. Sales in August 2009 decreased 5.1 percent compared with the previous month.
The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2009 would be if sales maintained the August pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.
The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during August 2009 was $292,960, a 16.9 percent decrease from the revised $352,730 median for August 2008, C.A.R. reported. The August 2009 median price rose 2.6 percent compared with July's $285,480 median price.
"The statewide median price rose for the sixth consecutive month in August," said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie-Appleton-Young. "Recent price gains are consistent with the low inventory levels of the past few months. Levels of distressed properties remain high, but have declined compared with earlier in the year, and are one reason why inventory levels are running below the state's long-run average of 7.2 months.
"Sales have exceeded 500,000 homes for 12 consecutive months, and now are 38 percent higher on a year-to-date basis compared with 2008," said Appleton-Young. "Sales continue to be boosted by the large number of distressed properties on the market, along with favorable interest rates."
Highlights of C.A.R.'s resale housing figures for August 2009:
C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in August 2009 was 4.3 months, compared with 7 months (revised) for the same period a year ago. The index indicates the number of months needed to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.
Thirty-year fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 5.19 percent during August 2009, compared with 6.48 percent in August 2008, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.72 percent in August 2009, compared with 5.26 percent in August 2008.
The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 35.2 days in August 2009, compared with 47.6 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.
Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during August 2009 were: Saratoga, $1,337,000; Palos Verdes, $1,170,000; Newport Beach, $1,040,000; Los Gatos, $900,000; Cupertino, $870,000; Danville, $825,000; Santa Monica, $810,000; Rancho Palos Verdes, $765,000; Arcadia, $750,000; and Mountain View, $732,500.
Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in August 2009 compared with the same period a year ago were: San Juan Capistrano, 28.8 percent; Laguna Hills, 17.6 percent; Placentia, 10.9 percent; San Rafael, 10.1 percent; Fullerton, 7.2 percent; Benicia, 5.6 percent; Arcadia, 5 percent; Alhambra, 3.5 percent; Costa Mesa, 3.1 percent; and Walnut 2.9 percent.