California Home Sales Dip 8.1% in April, Median Price Jumps 21%

Residential News » Residential Real Estate Edition | By Michael Gerrity | May 24, 2010 3:52 PM ET

According to the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.), home sales decreased 8.1 percent in April in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home rose 21 percent.

Quick Facts:

  • Existing, single-family home sales decreased 8.1 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted rate of 483,830 units on an annualized basis compared with April 2009.
  • The statewide median price of an existing single-family home increased 21 percent in April to $306,230, compared with April 2009.
  • C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index rose to 5.1 months in April compared with five months in April 2009.

"It's likely that the state tax credit that went into effect May 1 created an incentive for many buyers to postpone closing escrow so they could take advantage of both the state and federal tax credits that were available," said C.A.R. President Steve Goddard.  "We should see the pace of closed sales edge up in May and June as these tax-incentivized transactions close.

"Sales dipped below the 500,000-unit level for the first time in 19 months also because of supply issues - the demand for attractive foreclosed properties well exceeds the number of properties on the market," he said.  "At the same time, mortgage interest rates continue to hover near their historic lows, and many buyers are out in force to take advantage of the combination of low interest rates and affordably priced homes. It's an ideal time for many families to purchase their first home even though they may face stiff competition."

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 483,830 in April 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 decreased 8.1 percent from the revised 526,720 sales pace recorded in April 2009. Sales in April 2010 decreased 6.4 percent compared with the previous month.

The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2010 would be if sales maintained the April 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 April 2010 was $306,230, a 21 percent increase from the revised $253,110 median for April 2009, C.A.R. reported. The April 2010 median price increased 1.5 percent compared with March's $301,790 median price.

"The strong demand for distressed properties continued unabated last month, and overall, inventory remains constrained in most segments of the market," said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.  "Listings in April increased compared with a month earlier, typical for this time of year, as more sellers entered the market. At the $300,000 and below price point, the number of homes for sale is at a 3.3-month supply, well below the historical average of seven months."

Highlights of C.A.R.'s resale housing figures for April 2010:

  • C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in April 2010 was 5.1 months, compared with five 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 5.10 percent during April 2010, compared with 4.81 percent in April 2009, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.16 percent in April 2010, compared with 4.82 percent in April 2009.
  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 39.4 days in April 2010, compared with 48.1 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.
  • Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during April 2010 were: Manhattan Beach, $1,572,500; Saratoga, $1,440,000; Los Altos, $1,428,750; Mill Valley, $1,200,000; Laguna Beach, $1,162,500; Cupertino, $1,120,000; Newport Beach, $1,037,500; Los Gatos, $1,034,000; Calabasas, $925,000; and Santa Monica, $870,000.
  • Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in April 2010 compared with the same period a year ago were: Richmond, 63.2 percent; Pittsburg, 56.7 percent; Tulare, 37 percent; San Bernardino, 37 percent; Cupertino, 35.7 percent; Monterey Park, 33.9 percent; Tustin, 31.6 percent; Highland, 29.2 percent; Manteca, 28.1 percent; Lancaster, 27.6 percent; and Seaside, 26.9 percent.

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