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Calif. market highest in 4 months

San Diego County home resales, prices up in March from Feb.

LOS ANGELES -- Resales of existing single-family detached homes in San Diego increased 32.3 percent from February to March 2014, as the price rose 2.8 percent to a median of $490,280, according to the California Association of Realtors (CAR).

March resales were down 15.1 percent from a year ago, and the resale price was up 12.3 percent from March 2013.

The unsold inventory of existing single-family detached homes for resale fell to 3.9 months in March, down from five in February and up slightly from 3.3 in March 2013.

The median number of days it took to resell a single-family home fell to 25.7 in March, down from 29.9 in February and 26.6 in March 2013.

The state’s housing market ticked upward in March to reach the highest level in four months -- but resales were still lower than a year ago, as declining housing affordability continues to put downward pressure on the market, according to CAR.

Closed escrow resales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 367,000 units in March, according to more than 90 local Realtor associations and multiple listing services (MLSs) statewide.

March marked the fifth straight month that resales were below the 400,000 level and the eighth straight decline on a year-over-year basis.

Resales in March increased 1.4 percent from a revised 361,790 in February but were down 12.3 percent from a revised 418,310 in March 2013.

The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes resold during 2014 if resales maintained the March pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home resales.

“While the demand for housing was up from February, the market is taking a hit from lower housing affordability compared to a year ago, which led to a decline in home sales from last year,” said C.A.R. President Kevin Brown.

“Moreover, concerns over tighter lending standards and increased borrowing costs are also contributing factors to the sluggish market as they both negatively impact the bottom line of home buyers who obtain financing through mortgages.”

The statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home reversed a two-month decline, and rose 7.7 percent from February’s median price of $404,250 to $435,470 in March.

March’s price was 14.9 percent higher than the revised $379,000 in March 2013, marking more than two full years of consecutive year-over-year price increases and the 21st straight month of double-digit annual gains, as sales of higher priced homes made up a larger share of the market compared to a year ago.

The median resale price is the point at which half of homes resold for more and half for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling as well as a general change in values.

“While housing inventory has loosened since last year, it’s still below what’s considered typical in a normal market,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, CAR vice president and chief economist.

“Many of the listings continue to be priced above what the market will bear and are not moving," Appleton-Young said. "As such, even with improved home prices over the past year, new listings are lagging because would-be sellers who have limited options on where to move are hesitant to put their properties on the market.”

In Riverside County, the March 2014 median resale price was $310,670, up 2.7 percent from February and 12.3 percent from March 2013. Sales were up 26.2 percent from February and down 8.3 percent from a year ago.

Riverside's unsold index for March 2014 was 4.5 months, down from 5.6 the previous month, but below 3 a year ago. Median time on the market was 25.7 days, lower than 40 in February but higher than 41.1 in March 2013.

Other key facts from CAR’s March 2014 resale housing report include:

• California's housing inventory tightened in March, with the available supply of existing, single-family detached homes for sale slipping last month to 4 months, down from February’s Unsold Inventory Index of 4.7. The index was 2.9 months in March 2013.

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 typical in a normal market.

• The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home fell to 35 days in March, down from 40 in February but up from 29.4 in March 2013.

• Mortgage rates edged up in March, with the 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaging 4.34 percent, up from 4.3 percent in February and up from 3.57 percent in March 2013, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates in March averaged 2.48 percent, down from 2.54 in February and down from 2.63 percent in March 2013.

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