California home sales and prices higher in July; median price reaches near-four-year high

LOS ANGELES (Aug. 17) –  California home sales and prices both posted strong gains in July, with the sales pace showing positive year-over-year growth for the fourth straight month and the median price reaching a near-four-year high, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported today. 

“It’s hard to generalize the state of California’s housing market because the markets are so diverse and are performing so differently,” said C.A.R. President LeFrancis Arnold.  “REO-dominated areas such as those in the Inland Empire and Central Valley are experiencing sales constraints due to an extreme shortage of available homes.  On the other hand, a robust economy in the San Francisco Bay area and a relatively larger inventory at higher price levels is helping to fuel sales and prices.”

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes reached a seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of 529,230 in July <Tweet this>, up 2 percent from June’s revised 518,680 rate, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide.  July’s sales pace was up 15.3 percent from July 2011’s revised pace of 459,140 sales.   The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2012 if sales maintained the July pace throughout the year and is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

July marked the fifth consecutive month that California’s median home price was up from both the previous month and year <Tweet this>.  The statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home was $333,860 in July, up 4.2 percent from $320,540 in June and up 12.7 percent from a revised $296,160 in July 2011.

The July 2012 median price was the highest since August 2008, when the median price reached $352,730.  July also marked the fourth straight month that the median price has posted above the $300,000 level <Tweet this>

“The strong performance in the median price over the past few months reflects a sales shift away from homes in the lower price ranges of the market due to stark inventory toward sales of homes priced above $500,000,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “As an example, in July, sales of homes priced below $200,000 declined 9.4 percent from the previous year, and homes priced above $500,000 climbed 27.7 percent from a year ago.”

California’s housing inventory was essentially flat in July, with the Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes at 3.4 months in July <Tweet this> compared with 3.5 months in June.   However, July’s housing inventory index was down from a revised 5.6-month supply in July 2011.  The index indicates the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.  The long-run average is a 6- to 7-month supply.

Interest rates continued to remain at historically low levels in July, with 30-year fixed-mortgage interest rates averaging 3.55 percent, down from 3.68 percent in June and 4.55 percent in July 2011, according to Freddie Mac.  Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 2.69 percent in July, down from 2.76 percent in June and down from 2.97 percent in June 2011.

The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home edged down from 43.4 days in June to 43.2 days in July <Tweet this>.  It took a median of 51.9 days for a home to sell in July 2011.

Multimedia:
• Unsold Inventory by price range
• Year-to-year change in sales by price range.

Note:  The County MLS median price and sales data in the tables are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® throughout the state, and represent statistics of existing single-family detached homes only.  County sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales.  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, as well as changes in the characteristics and the size of homes sold.  Due to the low sales volume in some areas, median price changes in July may exhibit unusual fluctuation.

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 155,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.