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Inventory drops

SD, Calif. continue gains in resales, prices in Dec.

San Diego and California home resales and prices both posted gains in December, according to the California Association of Realtors (CAR).

"A rush to complete sales of higher-priced homes by the end of the year to avoid an expected increase in capital gains due to the 'fiscal cliff' pushed up sales of homes priced $500,000 and above by nearly 42 percent from December 2011," said CAR President Don Faught.

The median price of existing, single-family detached homes in San Diego increased 3.5 percent to $418,290 in December from $403,990 in November.

December's price is up 16.2 percent from December 2011, when it was $359,930.

Closed escrow resales of existing, single-family detached homes in San Diego were up 9.5 percent in December from November, and up 9 percent from December 2011.

San Diego's Unsold Inventory Index for single-family detached homes fell to 3 months, down from 3.8 months in November and 5 months in December 2011.

The median time on the market increased to 43.1 days, up from 36.4 days in November and down from 61.8 days in December 2011.

The statewide median price posted strong double-digit gains for six straight months.

Closed escrow resales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 522,510 units, according to information collected by CAR from more than 90 local Realtor associations and multiple listing services (MLSs) statewide.

Sales in December were up 0.8 percent from a revised 518,460 in November, and up 0.9 percent from a revised 517,730 in December 2011.

The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2012 if sales maintained the December 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 climbed 5 percent from November's $349,300 median price to $366,930 in December.

December's price was up 27 percent from a revised $288,950 recorded in December 2011, marking the 10th consecutive month of annual price increases and the sixth consecutive month of double-digit annual gains.

The substantial increase in price was due in large part to a significant increase of higher priced properties, while inventory constraints continued to constrict sales of lower-priced homes.

Price increases are not expected to continue at a high pace into 2013.

"The positive fundamentals in the housing sector continued to attract potential homeowners and investors, which resulted in strong housing sales in the fourth quarter," said Leslie Appleton-Young, CAR vice president and chief economist. "Sales for 2012 rose 5.4 percent, reaching 525,120 for the year as a whole, slightly above our projection. With sales in the higher end market remaining strong throughout the year, the price gain at the state level surpassed our expectations, increasing 11.6 percent from $286,040 in 2011 to a preliminary $319,340 in 2012."

California's housing inventory was further constrained in December, with the Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes dropping to 2.6 months, down from 3.1 months in November and a revised 4.3 months in December 2011.

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.

The 30-year fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 3.35 percent during December 2012, unchanged from November, but down from 3.96 percent in December 2011, according to Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC).

Adjustable-mortgage interest rates edged down in December, averaging 2.54 percent, down from 2.57 percent in November and down from 2.79 percent in December 2011.

The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home edged up to 38.1 days in December 2012 from 37.5 days in November, but was down from 58.7 days for the same period a year ago.

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