Saturday, February 5, 2011

California home sales, median price rise in December

From the California Association of Realtors February Newsline:

California home sales rose in December, posting their highest level since May, according to data from C.A.R. The statewide median price increased from November, but was down from a year ago.

“December’s sales increase reflects buyers taking advantage of rock bottom interest rates and improved affordability since the first half of the year, when prices were higher,” said C.A.R. President Beth L. Peerce. “Most of December’s sales opened escrow in October and November. Rates hit their absolute lowest in October but began edging higher in November, prompting buyers to get off the fence,” she said.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 520,680 in December. December’s sales were up 5.9 percent from November’s revised pace of 491,590 but were down 6.8 percent from the revised 558,840 sales pace recorded in December 2009.

Following three consecutive monthly declines, the median price of an existing, single-family detached home sold in California increased 1.7 percent from a revised $296,690 in November but was down 1.6 percent from the revised $306,860 median price recorded for the same period a year ago.

“While sales rose in December, the sales pace in the second half of the year was lower than the first half as the housing market weaned itself off home buyer tax credits,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “For 2010 as a whole, sales reached 494,900 homes sold, down 9.5 percent from the 546,860 homes sold in 2009. However, the statewide median price increased 10.2 percent to reach $302,900 for the year, up from the $275,000 recorded in 2009,” she said.

Here are other highlights of C.A.R.’s resale housing report for December 2010:
A greater than usual drop in listings combined with the sales increase caused C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index to decline more than one month. The Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes was 5.0 months in December, down from 6.2 months in November. The index was 3.8 months in December 2009. 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 4.71 percent during December 2010, compared with 4.93 percent in December 2009, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 3.31 percent in December 2010, compared with 4.31 percent in December 2009.

The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 57.5 days in December 2010, compared with 35.1 days for the same period a year ago.

Regional MLS sales and price information are contained in the tables that accompany this press release. Regional sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales. The MLS median price and sales data for detached homes are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® throughout the state. MLS median price and sales data for condominiums are based on a survey of more than 60 associations. The median price for both detached homes and condominiums represents closed escrow sales.

In a separate report covering more localized statistics generated by C.A.R. and DataQuick Information Systems, 97 of the 329 cities and communities reporting showed an increase in their respective median home prices from a year ago. DataQuick statistics are based on county records data rather than MLS information. DataQuick Information Systems is a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. (The lists are generated for incorporated cities with a minimum of 30 recorded sales in the month.)

Note: Large changes in local median home prices typically indicate both local home price appreciation, and often, large shifts in the composition of housing market activity. Some of the variations in median home prices for November may be exaggerated due to compositional changes in housing demand. The DataQuick tables listing median home prices in California cities and counties are accessible through C.A.R. online at

Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during December 2010 were: Beverly Hills, $2,180,000; Los Altos, $1,300,000; Calabasas, $1,175,000; Laguna Beach, $1,105,000; Manhattan Beach, $1,085,500; Newport Beach, $1,000,000; Santa Monica, $921,000; Cupertino, $904,500; Rancho Palos Verdes, $849,000; Los Gatos, $840,000.

Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in December 2010 compared with the same period a year ago were: Beverly Hills, 54.3 percent; Calabasas, 39.1 percent; Poway, 25.5 percent; Ridgecrest, 23.3 percent; San Juan Capistrano, 19.2 percent; Compton, 17.5 percent; Laguna Hills, 15.7 percent; Santa Cruz, 14.1 percent; Gilroy, 14.1 percent; La Habra, 13.2 percent.

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