California home sales increase 2.5% in January from a year ago; median price of US$278,900 down 2.0% year-over-year: California Assn. of Realtors

LOS ANGELES , February 15, 2011 (press release) – California home sales rose in January, marking three consecutive monthly increases and posting their highest level since May 2010, while the statewide median price declined to its lowest level since June 2009, according to data from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.).

“With lower home prices and rates edging up from their historic lows of late last year, prospective home buyers should consider the opportunities in today’s market,” said C.A.R. President Beth L. Peerce.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 546,420 in January, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide, representing 90 percent of the market. January’s sales were up 5.1 percent from December’s revised pace of 520,080 and up 2.5 percent from the 532,870 sales pace recorded in January 2010. It was the first year-over-year sales increase since May 2010. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2011 if sales maintained the January pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home sold in California was $278,900, down 8.6 percent from a revised $305,020 in December and was down 2.0 percent from the $284,600 median price recorded for January 2010. The January 2011 median price was the lowest since June 2009, when it was $274,640.

“Although prices typically fall seasonally in January and February of each year, the decline in the median price can primarily be attributed to the aftereffects of last fall’s foreclosure moratoria,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “More distressed properties are coming on to the market, which led to an uptick in sales of distressed properties during January. We expect this trend to continue as lenders expedite the disposition of these properties,” she said.

Here are other highlights of C.A.R.’s resale housing report for January 2011:

* The Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes was 6.7 months in January, up from 5.0 months in December 2010. The index was 5.7 months in January 2010. 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 4.76 percent during January 2011, compared with 5.03 percent in January 2010, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 3.25 percent in January 2011, compared with 4.33 percent in January 2010.
* The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 61.8 days in January 2011, compared with 32.9 days for the same period a year ago.
* Visit to view Unsold Inventory by price point.

Note: The MLS median price and sales data for detached homes are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® and MLSs throughout the state, representing 90 percent of the market. County sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales. 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 escrows. Movements in sales prices should not be interpreted as changes in the cost of a standard home. Median prices can be influenced by changes in cost and in the characteristics and size of homes sold. Due to low sales volume in some areas, median price changes may exhibit unusual fluctuation. C.A.R.’s data has been standardized to reflect county-level statistics.

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