Closed sales of existing single-family homes slipped
again in February, marking the seventh straight month of declining activity. The
California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) said that sales of existing homes
during the month were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 361,210 units. This was a 0.7 percent dip from the January
rate of 363,930 units. It was the fourth
month that existing home sales were under 400,000 and the rate was 13.7 percent
below the rate of 418,520 homes in February 2013.
"The slower sales in February
reflects diminished housing affordability after three years of solid price
increases and interest rates that are nearly a full percentage point higher
than a year ago," said C.A.R. President Kevin Brown. "With the interest
rate difference alone, home buyers this year would have to pay $150 more per
month on their mortgage payment than last year, a substantial amount for many
would-be home buyers trying to get into the market."
Virtually every country reporting to
C.A.R. posted year-over-year declines in sales.
Increases were noted in Contra Costa Country (+22 percent) and San
Francisco Country (+14.9 percent) and sales in the small counties of Madera and
Amador were also up.
Inventories improved in February
with a 4.7 month supply of existing single-family homes available for sale
compared to 4.3 months in January and 3.6 months in February 2013. C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index reflects both
the number of homes on the market and the current sales rate. A six- to
seven-month supply is considered typical in a normal market.
With declining sales and increasing
inventories the statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached
home retreated 1.6 percent from January's median price of $410,990 to $404,250.
February's price was 21.3 percent higher
than a year earlier marking two full years of consecutive year-over-year price
increases and the 20th straight month of double-digit annual gains, as higher
priced homes made up a larger share of the market compared to a year ago.
"Supply conditions in the housing
market have shown some improvement since the end of last year, except for the
lowest price range where the inventory for distressed properties is depleted.
In the mid-priced range of $300,000-$750,000, which covers nearly half of
all home sales, inventory is up 27 percent, while the supply of high-end homes
- properties priced at or above $1 million, also is up 13 percent from a year
ago," said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie
Appleton-Young. "The improvement in these prime price ranges will benefit
trade-up buyers who are expected to dominate the market in 2014, as many of
them will be searching for homes in these price categories."
The median number of marketing days
for a single-family home fell to 40 days from 44.3 days in January but remained
higher than the 34.3 days it took to sell a home in February 2013.
Sales and price data are generated
by C.A.R. from a survey of more than 90 Realtor associations throughout the