Sales in 2013 were 5.9 percent below sales in 2012 the California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) has announced, and December sales also were down from those both in November and in the same month the previous year.  C.A.R. said tight inventories and higher home prices squeezed a lot of potential buyers out of the market.

 "We typically see an uptick in distressed sales at the end of the year as lenders try to move these properties off their books," said C.A.R. President Kevin Brown.  "However, the supply of foreclosures and short sales is the lowest it's been since well before the financial crisis, greatly constraining the number of these transactions.  In addition, housing prices are improving across the board, even reaching pre-2007 levels in parts of the Bay Area. Higher prices and rising rates as the Fed slowly tapers are additional factors in the sales slowdown evidenced in the December numbers."

Sales in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 361,890 units, down 6.7 percent from November's pace of 387,860 units and off 18.6 percent from the 444,770 rate in December 2012.  Preliminary figures indicate that 413,870 single family homes were sold statewide in 2013 compared to 439,790 for all of 2012. 

The available supply of existing single-family homes for sale was down to 3 months in December from 3.6 months the previous month.  In December 2012 the supply was estimated at 2.6 months.  C.A.R. says that a six to seven month supply is considered typical in a normal market.  Median marketing time for a single family home was 40.2 days in December, up from 36.7 days in November and 38.1 days in December 2012. 

Home prices, after falling for three months, rose again in December to a median price of $438,040 from November's median of $422,210 and was a 19.7 percent annual increase from the median of $365,840 in December 2012.   Prices have increased by double digits from the same month a year earlier for 18 months and this was the first time in 15 months that the annual increase fell below 20 percent.



"While the month-to-month price gain was higher than normal, home prices have been stabilizing in the second half of 2013, which is positive news for buyers who have been putting their home search on hold until prices leveled off," said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.  "California's housing market experienced strong price growth throughout the year, with the median price surging 27.5 percent for the year as a whole from $319,300 in 2012 to $407,180 in 2013.  But again, the increase in the median price can be partly attributed to the increase in sales of higher-priced properties, where tight inventory was less of a factor."

C.A.R's sales data is generated from a survey of more than 90 Realtor associations throughout the state, and represent statistics of existing single-family detached homes only.