Sales of California existing homes down 8.6% from a year ago in November as year-over-year median price falls for the first time in 12 months, to US$296,820, down 2.5% from a year ago

LOS ANGELES , December 22, 2010 () – California home sales rose in November, but were down from the previous year, according to data from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). The statewide median price declined from both the previous month and previous year.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 490,950 in November, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations statewide. November's sales were up 9.2 percent from October's revised pace of 449,480 but were down 8.6 percent from the revised 536,940 sales pace recorded in November 2009. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2010 if sales maintained the November pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

"We are encouraged by November's sales increase, but realize a more sustained recovery is being hampered by the distressed market," said C.A.R. President Beth L. Peerce. "While we are experiencing a greater share of short sales, these transactions are notoriously difficult to navigate with no guarantee of closure. A recent C.A.R. survey indicated that it takes many lenders 90 days or more simply to communicate whether a short sale has been accepted, causing tremendous frustration for buyers and sellers," she said. "Moreover, the survey found that more than two out of five short sale transactions never close. The housing market can't fully recover until lenders streamline and improve the short sales process, which would help expedite transactions," said Peerce.

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home sold in California fell below the $300,000 mark for the first time since February. The November 2010 median price was $296,820, down 2.4 percent from October's $304,220 median price and down 2.5 percent from the revised $304,550 median price recorded for the same period a year ago. It was the first year-over-year price decline in a year.

"Unsold inventory declined slightly in November, as the number of active listings fell from October, particularly for homes priced above $500,000," said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. "The decline in listings was reflective of seasonal factors and the foreclosure moratorium that took place in October," she said.

Here are other highlights of C.A.R.'s resale housing report for November 2010:

* C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes was 6.2 months in November, down from 6.5 months in October. The index was 4.5 months in November 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 4.3 percent during November 2010, compared with 4.88 percent in November 2009, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 3.25 percent in November 2010, compared with 4.41 percent in November 2009.
* The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 54.7 days in November 2010, compared with 33.1 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, 106 of the 328 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
http://www.car.org/marketdata/historicalprices/2010medianprices/nov2010/

* Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during November 2010 were: Saratoga, $1,235,000; Newport Beach, $1,110,000; Laguna Beach, $1,107,500; La Jolla, $1,037,500; Los Gatos, $850,000; Cupertino, $850,000; Santa Monica, $849,000; Santa Barbara, $839,000; Danville, $720,000; San Francisco, $680,000; and Arcadia, $670,000.

* Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in November 2010 compared with the same period a year ago were: San Juan Capistrano, 57 percent; San Bernardino, 24.3 percent; Thousand Oaks, 22.6 percent; Encinitas, 21 percent; Lake Forest, 16.8 percent; San Marcos, 14 percent; Montclair, 12.9 percent; Newport Beach, 12.6 percent; Compton, 12.5 percent; and Yucca Valley, 12.4 percent.

Multimedia:

* Visit http://videos.car.org/mediavault.html?menuID=1&flvID=13 to view a video of C.A.R. Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young discuss highlights of the November sales and price report.

* Visit http://car.org/media/ppt/nov_uii.ppt to view Unsold Inventory by price point.

* Visit http://car.org/media/ppt/Nov_pk_trough.ppt to view a data table comparing current prices with trough prices in areas throughout the state.

Leading the way...® in California real estate for more than 100 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (www.car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States, with more than 160,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.

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