California Association of Realtors Reports July Home Sales Increased 12%, Median Home Price Declined 19.6%


 August 31, 2009

Home sales increased 12% in July 2009 in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home declined 19.6%, the California Association of Realtors® recently reported.

“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. “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% from the revised 494,390 sales pace recorded in July 2008. Sales in July 2009 increased 8.1% 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% decrease from the revised $355,000 median for July 2008, C.A.R. reported. The July 2009 median price rose 3.9% 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% of the market share compared with just 43% 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% during July 2009, compared with 6.43% in July 2008, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.82% in July 2009, compared with 5.24% 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.