(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- Home sales increased 12 percent in July in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home declined 19.6 percent, the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) reported today.
"The federal tax credit for first-time buyers played a critical role in the purchase decision of many buyers," said C.A.R. President James Liptak. "Nearly 40 percent of first-time buyers said they would not have purchased a home if the tax credit was not offered.
Existing, single-family home sales increased 12 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted rate of 553,910 on an annualized basis.
The statewide median price of an existing single-family home increased 3.9 percent in July to $285,480, compared with June 2009.
C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index fell to 3.9 months in July, compared with 6.9 months in July 2008.
"Because the tax credit has helped so many first-time buyers become homeowners, it is critical that Congress extends the credit beyond the Dec. 1 deadline, and includes all buyers, not just first-timers."
Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 553,910 in July 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 12 percent from the revised 494,390 sales pace recorded in July 2008. Sales in July 2009 increased 8.1 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 July 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 July 2009 was $285,480, a 19.6 percent decrease from the revised $355,000 median for July 2008, C.A.R. reported. The July 2009 median price rose 3.9 percent compared with June's $274,740 median price.
"July marked the fifth consecutive month of month-to-month increases in the median price," said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. "This was the largest increase on record for the month of July based on statistics dating back to 1979. The yearly decline in July also was the smallest in the past 19 months.
"Favorable home prices in the low end of the market continue to propel sales of homes priced less than $500,000," said Appleton-Young. "This price segment now accounts for 74 percent of the market share compared with just 43 percent prior to the start of the credit crunch. The high-end segment continues to experience elevated inventories and declines in the median price as financing for jumbo loans and unrealistic sellers challenge the market."
Highlights of C.A.R.'s resale housing figures for July 2009:
C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in July 2009 was 3.9 months, compared with 6.9 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 5.22 percent during July 2009, compared with 6.43 percent in July 2008, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.82 percent in July 2009, compared with 5.24 percent in July 2008.
The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 39.9 days in July 2009, compared with 47.8 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.
Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during July 2009 were: Los Altos, $1,425,500; Palo Alto, $1,363,000; Saratoga, $1,350,000; Newport Beach, $1,300,000; Manhattan Beach, $1,257,500; Burlingame, $1,250,000; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,132,000; Los Gatos, $1,085,000; Cupertino, $952,000; and Rancho Palos Verdes $945,000.
Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in July 2009 compared with the same period a year ago were: Laguna Hills, 40.5 percent; Newport Beach, 13.5 percent; Moorpark, 11.2 percent; Poway, 10.8 percent; San Marcos, 8.6 percent; Emeryville, 7.6 percent; Santa Barbara, 6.3 percent; Arcadia, 5.8 percent; Big Bear Lake, 5.5 percent; and West Hollywood, 5 percent.
July 2009 Regional Sales and Price Activity* (Regional and Condo Sales Data Not Seasonally Adjusted)
* Santa Barbara County and Monterey County median prices decreased significantly from July 2008 due mainly to the high proportion of total sales from lower-priced properties in the regions.
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* Based on closed escrow sales of single family, detached homes only (no condos). Movements in sales prices should not be interpreted as measuring changes in the cost of a standard home. Prices are influenced by changes in cost and changes in the characteristics and size of homes actually sold.
sf = single family, detached home
Source: CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Median Prices By Region - Current Month vs. Year Ago