Fueled by high demand and tight inventory, California home sales and prices both experienced strong increases in April, with the median price surpassing the $400,000 mark for the first time in five years.
"California's housing market maintained its momentum in April, getting the spring home-buying season off to a good start," said Don Faught, president of the California Association of Realtors (CAR) and vice president and managing broker for Alain Pinel Realtors in Pleasanton.
"Southern California regions such as Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego led the way in both month-to-month and year-over-year sales increases, while sales in the Bay Area region as a whole posted a healthy monthly gain but dipped slightly from last year," Faught said.
Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 423,510 units in April, according to information collected by CAR from more than 90 local Realtor associations and MLSs statewide. Sales in April were up 1.3% from a revised 417,880 in March but down 3.7% from a revised 439,770 in April 2012.
The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2013 if sales maintained the April pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.
The statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home climbed 6.3% from March's revised median price of $378,960 to $402,760 in April, signaling the first time since April 2008 that the statewide median price has exceeded the $400,000 mark (and was the highest since then). April's price was up 28.9% from a revised $312,500 recorded in April 2012, marking 14 straight months of annual price increases and the 10th consecutive month of double-digit annual gains.
The median sales price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling as well as a general change in values.
"The upsurge in the median price continues to be driven by an increase in sales in the upper-price range, where low inventory is less of an issue," said CAR Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.
"Over the past year, home sales in the $500,000-and-higher market segment posted a year-over-year gain of 35% on average, which contributed to an increase in the statewide median price of nearly 30% from the previous year," she added.
Other key facts of CAR's April 2013 resale housing report include:
* The available supply of homes for sale was essentially unchanged from March, but was down markedly from a year ago. The April Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes was 2.8 months in April, down from 2.9 months in March, and down from 4.2 months in April 2012. 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 normal.
* Increased market competition has significantly driven down the time on market compared with a year ago. Homes sold more quickly in April, with the median number of days it took to sell a single-family home decreasing to 27.9 days in April, down from 29.4 days in March and down from a revised 48 days for the same period a year ago.
* Mortgage rates dipped in April, with the 30-year fixed-mortgage interest rate averaging 3.45%, down from 3.57% in March 2013 and down from 3.91% in April 2012, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates were flat from March, averaging 2.63% in April, but down from 2.78% in April 2012.