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C.A.R. Reports Sales Increased 100.8%; Median Home Price Declined 40.5% in January

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RISMEDIA, March 2, 2009-Home sales increased 100.8% in January in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home fell 40.5%, the California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) reported Friday.

“Statewide sales in January edged past the 600,000 threshold for the first time since October 2005,” said C.A.R. President James Liptak. “The strength in California home sales in recent months signifies that the market is gradually working its way through the large numbers of distressed sales that have followed in the wake of the troubled mortgage problem. With favorable home prices and historically low mortgage rates, affordability in the California housing market is now at its highest since the start of the decade.”

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 624,940 in January at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations statewide. Statewide home resale activity increased 100.8% from the revised 311,160 sales pace recorded in January 2008. Sales in January 2009 increased 14% compared with the previous month.

The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2009 would be if sales maintained the January pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during January 2009 was $254,350, a 40.5% decrease from the revised $427,200 median for January 2008, C.A.R. reported. The January 2009 median price fell 9.5% compared with December’s revised $281,180 median price.

“A lot of attention has rightfully been directed toward the high number of distressed properties,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “California’s housing market also is feeling the effects of a drought in the availability of jumbo mortgage loans.

“Since the start of the credit crisis in 2007, jumbo lending has been severely constrained to the point where markets that rely on jumbo loans experienced a 24% year-to-year decline in sales in the month of January. This stands in contrast to the 100% sales gain the overall market experienced,” she said.

Highlights of C.A.R.’s resale housing figures for January 2009:

- C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in January 2009 was 6.7 months, compared with 16.6 months (revised) for the same period a year ago. 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 5.05% during January 2009, compared with 5.76% in January 2008, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.92% in January 2009, compared with 5.23% in January 2008.
- The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 49.9 days in January 2009, compared with 70.8 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.

In a separate report covering more localized statistics generated by C.A.R. and DataQuick Information Systems, none of the 331 cities and communities reporting showed an increase in their respective median home prices from a year ago. DataQuick statistics are based on county records data rather than MLS information. DataQuick Information Systems is a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. (The top 10 list is generated for incorporated cities with a minimum of 30 recorded sales in the month.)

Note: Large changes in local median home prices typically indicate both local home price appreciation, and often, large shifts in the composition of housing market activity. Some of the variations in median home prices for January may be exaggerated due to compositional changes in housing demand.

Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during January 2009 were: Santa Barbara, $939,250; Redondo Beach, $672,500; Pleasanton, $655,000; San Clemente, $602,500; San Ramon, $582,000; Yorba Linda, $566,750; San Francisco, $561,000; Huntington Beach, $555,000; Encinitas, $550,000; and Sunnyvale, $530,000.

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