Pleasanton Weekly

Real Estate - March 25, 2011

Home sales fall in state

by Jeb Bing

Following three months of sales gains, California home sales posted a weaker-than-expected performance and declined in February, according to data from the California Association of Realtors.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 497,660 in February, according to information collected by CAR from more than 90 local Realtor associations and MLSs statewide.

February's sales were down 9.0% from January's revised pace of 547,080 and down 4.0% from the 518,390 sales pace recorded in February 2010. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2011 if sales maintained the February pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

"With continued concerns about both the economy and housing market, consumers remain tentative moving forward with any home buying plans," said CAR President Beth L. Peerce. "Nevertheless, current market conditions and loan rates at some of the lowest of all time continue to present attractive opportunities to those who are in a position to buy."

The statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home sold in California was $271,320, down 2.8% from a revised $279,140 in January and was down 2.5% from the $278,190 median price recorded for February 2010. The February 2011 median price was the lowest since May 2009, when it was $263,440.

"The market pulled back in February, following three months of sales gains, when the ramifications of the robo-signing delays from last fall pushed sales into the period from November of last year to January," said CAR Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.

"February's sales drop indicates the effects of the foreclosure freeze are diminishing, and the market is returning to a more moderate sales pace," she said.

Here are other highlights of CAR's resale housing report for February 2011:

* The Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes was 7.3 months in February, up from 6.7 months in January 2011. The index was 6.0 months in February 2010. The index indicates the number of months needed to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.

* Thirty-year fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.95% during February 2011, compared with 4.99% in February 2010, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 3.35% in February 2011, compared with 4.23% in February 2010.

* The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 64.4 days in February 2011, compared with 39.2 days for the same period a year ago.

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