California Home Sales in October Increased 1%, Median Prices Declined 3.2%

Residential News » Residential Real Estate Edition | By Michael Gerrity | November 27, 2009 2:21 PM ET

(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- According to the California Association of Realtors (CAR), home sales increased 1 percent in October in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home declined 3.2 percent.

"Home sales historically trail off during the fall and winter months as we move to the off-peak season for the housing market," said C.A.R. President Steve Goddard. "However, with affordable home prices, mortgage rates hovering around 5 percent, and the extension and expansion of the federal tax credit, we expect first-time and move-up home buyers to drive home sales through the end of this year and into early 2010."

Quick Facts:

  • Existing, single-family home sales increased 1 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted rate of 562,400 units on an annualized basis.
  • The statewide median price of an existing single-family home increased 0.3 percent in October to $297,500, compared with September 2009.
  • C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index fell to 4 months in October, compared with 6.1 months in October 2008.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 562,400 in October 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 1 percent from the revised 557,050 sales pace recorded in October 2008. Sales in October 2009 increased 5.9 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 October 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 October 2009 was $297,500, a 3.2 percent decrease from the revised $307,210 median for October 2008, C.A.R. reported. The October 2009 median price rose 0.3 percent compared with September's $296,610 median price.

"California's median price rose for the eighth consecutive month in October and sales continued to show strength, signs that California has hit and passed the bottom of this real estate cycle," said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie-Appleton-Young.  "The number of distressed sales as a share of total sales has shown considerable improvement since the beginning of the year, as a result of loan modifications and other efforts to prevent troubled mortgages from going into foreclosure. This has led to a decline in inventory levels since the start of the year that is more consistent with the price gains we have seen in recent months.

"For the first-time since July 2007, sales of homes priced $1 million or more rose in year-to-year comparisons," said Appleton-Young.  "While this is a welcome sign, the high end continues to be constrained by the lack of available financing in this sector."

Highlights of C.A.R.'s resale housing figures for October 2009:

  • C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in October 2009 was 4 months, compared with 6.1 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 4.95 percent during October 2009, compared with 6.20 percent in October 2008, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.55 percent in October 2009, compared with 5.21 percent in October 2008.
  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 34.1 days in October 2009, compared with 45.5 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.
  • Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during October 2009 were: Palo Alto, $1,639,550; Los Altos, $1,592,550; Manhattan Beach, $1,037,500; Cupertino, $1,030,000; Newport Beach, $935,000; Los Gatos, $920,000; Rancho Palos Verdes, $900,000; Santa Barbara, $897,500; Lafayette, $867,500; and Santa Monica, $786,000.
  • Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in October 2009 compared with the same period a year ago were:  Palo Alto, 49.1 percent; Atascadero, 33.3 percent; Cupertino, 24.2 percent; San Rafael, 24 percent; Emeryville, 22.2 percent, Livermore, 20.5 percent; Culver City, 19.4 percent; Pleasant Hill, 17 percent; La Habra, 16.2 percent, and Novato, 15.4 percent.

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