LOS ANGELES -- Home resales decreased 24.5 percent in March in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home fell 29 percent, the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) reported.
In San Diego County, the March 2008 median resale price was $447,500, down 0.7 percent from February and down 26.1 percent from March 2007. Resales activity over the same period was up 15.5 percent from the previous month, but down 29.9 percent from a year ago.
"Sales continue to be impacted by problems in the real estate finance sector, which by some measures have eroded since the start of the year," said C.A.R. President William E. Brown. "Sales in 2007 reached their peak last February; going forward, the year-to-year declines in sales should shrink."
Closed escrow resales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 318,830 in March at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local Realtor associations statewide.
Statewide home resale activity decreased 24.5 percent from the revised 422,300 sales pace recorded in March 2007.
The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2008 would be if sales maintained the March pace throughout the year.
It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.
The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during March 2008 was $413,980, a 29 percent decrease from the revised $582,930 median for March 2007, C.A.R. reported.
The March 2008 median price fell 1.3 percent compared with February's revised $419,640 median price.
"Both tighter underwriting standards and the ongoing effects of the credit/liquidity crunch continue to constrain sales," said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.
"Historically, mortgage rates on jumbo loans are 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent higher than those on conforming loans, but the spreads in recent weeks have been as large as 2 percentage points, reflecting an increase in the perceived risk associated with these loans.
"The lack of available funds for loans, even for qualified buyers, continues to keep the demand side of the market thin, and enables buyers with financing (or all cash) to exert leverage over sellers," she said.
Other highlights of C.A.R.'s resale housing figures for March 2008:
In a separate report covering more localized statistics generated by C.A.R. and DataQuick Information Systems, 4.9 percent, or 14 out of 283 cities and communities, showed an increase in their respective median home prices from a year ago.
The top 10 lists are generated for incorporated cities with a minimum of 30 recorded sales in the month.
In the neighboring Inland Empire counties of Riverside and San Bernardino, the March 2008 median resale price was $276,630, down 4.5 percent from February and off 29.8 percent from March 2007.
Sales activity, however, was up 45.5 percent from February and down 3.9 percent from a year ago.
In adjacent Orange County, the March 2008 median resale price was $591,460, down 0.8 percent from February and off 16.3 percent from March 2007.
Over the same periods, sales activity was up 12.5 percent from February and down 36.6 percent from a year ago.