March Home Sales in CA Increased 63.8%


Home sales increased 63.8% in March in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home declined 39%, the California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) reported.

“The March sales figure of 522,980 homes indicates that the market continues to be very active,” said C.A.R. President James Liptak. “All of the regions in the state experienced increases in month-to-month raw sales, with the smallest gain in the Sacramento region at 9.7% and the largest gain in the Riverside/San Bernardino region at 32.2%.”

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 522,980 in March 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 63.8% from the revised 319,290 sales pace recorded in March 2008. Sales in March 2009 decreased 16% 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 March 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 March 2009 was $253,040, a 39% decrease from the revised $414,520 median for March 2008, C.A.R. reported. The March 2009 median price rose 2.2% compared with February’s $247,590 median price.

“The statewide median price showed the first monthly increase since August 2007, and has remained in the $250,000 range over the past three months,” said C.A.R.’s Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “A number of regions around the state also have registered monthly gains for one or more months since the beginning of this year. While these are welcome signs, it remains to be seen whether home prices have stabilized. “While we still face continued weakness in the general economy and expect continued foreclosures, the increased incidence of multiple offers indicates that first-time home buyers and investors are responding to dramatically improved housing affordability. Low mortgage rates and house prices, coupled with the federal first-time home buyer tax credit, is having a definite impact on the California housing market,” Appleton-Young added.

Highlights of C.A.R.’s resale housing figures for March 2009:
-C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in March 2009 was 5 months, compared with 12.2 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% during March 2009, compared with 5.97% in March 2008, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.86% in March 2009, compared with 5.12% in March 2008.
-The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 48.3 days in March 2009, compared with 56.8 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.
-Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during March 2009 were: Santa Monica, $755,000; Danville, $738,500; Santa Barbara, $735,000; Mountain View, $700,000; Redondo Beach, $630,000; San Ramon, $621,000; San Clemente, $620,000; San Francisco, $617,000; Santa Cruz, $610,000; and Yorba Linda, $561,500.
-Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in March 2009 compared with the same period a year ago were: Lemon Grove, 18.6% and Rancho Santa Margarita, 3.1%.