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March Homes Sales and Price Report

April 21, 2012
March home sales and Price Report

For release:
April 16, 2012

California median home price posts first year-to-year increase in 16 months;
low inventory demonstrates limited need for bulk REO sales, C.A.R. says

LOS ANGELES (April 16) – California home sales declined in March from February’s pace, while the median home price snapped a 16-month annual price decline and posted its first year-over-year gain, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). 

“While home sales were down statewide, the housing market continued to perform at a solid pace by historical standards.  In fact, sales jumped significantly in most regions of the state, with many areas experiencing double-digit gains,” said C.A.R. President LeFrancis Arnold.  “Tight inventory and robust home sales, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, fueled the substantial increase in the March median home price.”

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 505,360 units in March, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide.  Sales in March were down 4.5 percent month-over-month and 2.3 percent year-to-year.  The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2012 if sales maintained the March 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 jumped 9.2 percent to $291,080 in March from February’s $266,660 median price and was up 1.6 percent from a revised $286,550 recorded in March 2011.  The month-to-month increase was the largest since March 2004.

“Housing inventory remains extremely tight throughout the state and at levels severely under normal market conditions,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.  “In areas, such as Los Angeles and Riverside counties, where the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) wants to implement the REO bulk sale pilot program, inventory is running at levels well below the long-run average.  These low inventory levels demonstrate that the pilot program is not necessary in California.”

The pilot program calls for the sale of more than 600 Fannie Mae-owned foreclosed homes in Los Angeles and Riverside counties to institutional investors. 

Other key facts of C.A.R.’s March 2012 resale housing report include:

• California’s housing inventory declined in March, with the Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes decreasing to 4.1 months in March, down from a revised 5.4 months in February and down from the 5.4-month supply in March 2011.  The index indicates the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.  A 7-month supply is considered normal.

• Interest rates edged up slightly in March.  Thirty-year fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 3.95 percent during March 2012, down from 4.84 percent in March 2011, according to Freddie Mac.  Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 2.77 percent in March 2012, compared with 3.22 percent in March 2011.

• The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home fell to 53.1 days in March 2012 and was down from a revised 57 days for the same period a year ago.

• View Unsold Inventory 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 December 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 160,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.

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