Pleasanton Weekly

Real Estate - October 28, 2011

California home sales decline in September

Realtor group blames ongoing economic uncertainty

by Jeb Bing

Heightened economic uncertainty contributed to a decrease in California home sales in September, according to data from the California Association of Realtors.

However, September home sales posted higher on a year-to-year basis for the third consecutive month and remain at stable levels.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California fell to a seasonally adjusted 487,940 units in September, down 2.1% from a revised 498,320 in August, according to information collected from more than 90 local Realtor associations and MLS reports statewide. However, September home sales were up 4.1% from the revised 468,700 units sold during the like period a year ago.

The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2011 if sales maintained the September pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

"September's sales decline was not a surprise, given the run of economic events that occurred during the time these sales were initiated, such as the debt debate, weakened stock market, and pending changes to the conforming loan limit," said CAR President Beth L. Peerce. "This heightened uncertainty, coupled with the lower conforming loan limit, which some large lenders began implementing in early July, had an adverse impact on September sales."

The September statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home sold in California was $287,440, down 3.2% from a revised $297,060 in August and down 8.3% from the $313,460 median price recorded for September 2010.

"While the median price declined in September, we've seen nominal month-to-month changes in the statewide median price since February, indicating some stability in home prices," said CAR Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. "Additionally, September home sales remained on track with expectations for this year, and sales for all of 2011 should be about even with last year, slightly above 490,000 units."

Other key facts of CAR's resale housing report for September 2011 include:

* The Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes was 5.1 months in September, essentially unchanged from 5.0 months in August but down from a revised 5.9 months in September 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 4.11% during September 2011, down from 4.35% in September 2010, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 2.84% in July 2011, compared with 3.46% in September 2010.

* The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 54.4 days in September 2011, compared with 50.3 days for the same period a year ago.


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