Sales of existing homes in California were essentially flat in January the California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) said on Wednesday.  While inventories loosened a bit from December levels they are still constrained and many potential sellers are hesitant about selling, nervous about the impact of rising rates and tight lending standards on their ability to purchase their next home.

Homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 363,640 in January, up 0.3 percent from a revised rate of 362,430 units in December but 13.8 percent below the pace of 421,780 units in January 2013.  C.A.R. said it was the third straight month that sales fell below a 400,000 unit pace and the sixth straight month when sales were lower than a year earlier. 

The supply of existing single-family detached homes for sale rose in January to 4.3 months from December's Unsold Inventory Index of 3 as some home sellers listed their homes for the spring home-buying season.  The index was 3.5 months in January 2013. C.A.R. noted a six- to seven-month supply is considered typical in a normal market.

C.A.R. President Kevin Brown said, "Supply conditions in the lower-priced segment were especially tight as inventory for homes priced below $300,000 fell 13.4 percent from the previous year, while inventory for homes priced $1 million and higher increased 11.1 percent from last year."

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home fell 6.2 percent from December's revised $438,090 to $410,990 in January. This was 22.1 percent higher than the median in January 2013, and was thus the 23rd consecutive month of year-over-year price increases and the 19th straight month of double-digit annual gains.  The increase in the median was driven by sales of higher priced homes which made up a larger share of the market compared to a year ago. 



The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home also increased to 44.3 days in January, up from 40.2 days in December and from a revised 36.7 days in January 2013.