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SD price, resales up

California home price highest annual increase since mid-2004

LOS ANGELES -- As the statewide median price continued to register double-digit gains from levels a year ago, strong resales of higher-priced homes led to a year-over-year increase in resales in California during November, the California Association of Realtors (CAR) reported.

“Housing markets with higher priced homes performed better in November compared with lower-priced areas," said CAR President Don Faught. "The negative impact of a lean housing supply on home sales is becoming more apparent, especially in markets with more distressed properties.”

“In lower-priced markets, home sales declined, whereas sales of mid- to higher-priced homes posted strong increases because there is a greater supply,” he said.

In San Diego County, the November median resale price of a single-family detached home was $403,990, up 2.2 percent from October and 13.3 percent higher than November 2011.

Sales activity in November was 2.2 percent higher than October and 10.5 percent above a year ago.

In San Diego, the CAR's unsold inventory index was 3.8 months, up from 3.7 in October, but well below 6.4 in November 2011.

The median time on the market last month was 36.4 days, down from 40 in October and below 58.7 in November 2011.

Statewide closed escrow resales of existing, single-family detached homes totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 518,290 units, according to information collected by CAR from more than 90 local Realtor associations and multiple listing services (MLSs) statewide.

Resales in November were down 4.9 percent from a revised 545,180 in October and up 2.7 percent from a revised 504,470 in November 2011.

The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2012 if sales maintained the November 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 increased 2.3 percent from October's $341,370 median price to $349,300 in November.

November's price was up 24.8 percent from a revised $279,910 recorded in November 2011, marking the ninth consecutive month of annual price increases and the fifth consecutive month of double-digit annual gains.

The year-to-year percentage increase was the largest since June 2004.

“California's median home price continued to strengthen in November, marking its highest point since August 2008,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, CAR vice president and chief economist. “The significant increase in price was due in part to the change in the mix of sales. Coastal markets, which tend to have high-end properties, accounted for a larger share of total sales and led to strong price gains overall.

“As we approach the new year, it is likely that sales and prices will remain solid moving forward, dependent upon the strength of the economy and if Congress preserves the valuable mortgage interest deduction all homeowners, especially those in California, depend on,” Appleton-Young said.

Other key facts of CAR's November 2012 resale housing report include:

• California's housing inventory continued to be constrained in November, with the Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes maintaining its 3.1 months’ level.

This is flat compared with the previous month, but down from November 2011, when the index was at 5.3 months. The index indicates the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate. A six- to seven-month supply is considered normal.

• Interest rates dipped further in November, with the 30-year fixed-mortgage interest rate averaging 3.35 percent during November 2012, down from 3.38 percent in October, and down from 3.99 percent in November 2011, according to Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC). Adjustable-mortgage interest rates also edged down in November, averaging 2.57 percent, down from 2.59 percent in October and down from 2.9 percent in November 2011.

• Homes continued to resell at a faster pace in November, with the median number of days it took to sell a single-family home falling to 37.5 days in November 2012 from 38 days in October and down from a revised 56.6 days for the same period a year ago.

In Orange County, the November median single-family home price was $565,020, up 1.1 percent from October and 15.9 percent higher than November 2011.

The Orange County unsold inventory index in November was 3.3 months, up from October's 3.2, but below 7 a year ago. The median time on the market was 52.6 days in November 2012, down from 57.8 in October and 80.7 in November 2011.

In the Inland Empire county of Riverside, the November 2012 median price was $239,610, up 3.8 percent from October and 19.8 percent above a year ago.

In Riverside, the unsold inventory index for November was 3.5 months, up from 3.4 in October, but below 5.3 in November 2011. Median time on the market for November was 44.9 days, up from 44.3 the previous month but below 55.7 a year ago.

In San Bernardino, the other Inland Empire county, the median last month was $152,000, a 2.4 percent gain from October and 12.4 percent above November 2011.

San Bernardino's unsold November inventory was 3.6 months, up from 3.6 in October, but below 4.7 a year ago. Median time on the market was 38 days in November, down from 43.8 the month before and below the 49.5 in November 2011.

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