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C.A.R. Reports March Median Price Increased 20.8 Percent; Home Sales Increased 2.5 Percent

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RISMEDIA, May 14, 2010—Home sales increased 2.5 percent in March in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home rose 20.8 percent, the California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) reported this week.

“The end of the federal tax credit on April 30 will remove some urgency from the market, but is not likely to derail current market trends as favorable prices and low mortgage rates continue to attract buyers and investors,” said C.A.R. President Steve Goddard. “The March year-to-year median price gain of 20.8 percent was the largest in more than five years. With the number of homes for sale in the state expected to remain lean, gains in the statewide median price may well outpace the nation going forward.”

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 516,590 in March 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 2.5 percent from the revised 504,200 sales pace recorded in March 2009. Sales in March 2010 decreased 2.5 percent compared with the previous month.

The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2010 would be if sales maintained the March 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 March 2010 was $301,790, a 20.8 percent increase from the revised $249,790 median for March 2009, C.A.R. reported. The March 2010 median price increased 7.8 percent compared with February’s $279,840 median price.

“While the federal tax credit has helped drive sales, near record-high affordability resulting from current prices and low mortgage rates also has impacted the market,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “Four years ago, the median price to household income ratio was at a record high of 10 to one. It’s now near a historic low of four to one.”

Highlights of C.A.R.’s resale housing figures for March 2010:

• C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in March 2010 was five months, compared with 5.6 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 4.97 percent during March 2010, compared with 5 percent in March 2009, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.20 percent in March 2010, compared with 4.86 percent in March 2009.

• The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 39.2 days in March 2010, compared with 48.5 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.

Regional MLS sales and price information are contained in the tables that accompany this press release. Regional sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales. The MLS median price and sales data for detached homes are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® throughout the state. MLS median price and sales data for condominiums are based on a survey of more than 60 associations. The median price for both detached homes and condominiums represents closed escrow sales.

In a separate report covering more localized statistics generated by C.A.R. and DataQuick Information Systems, 230 of the 357 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 lists are 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 March may be exaggerated due to compositional changes in housing demand. The DataQuick tables listing median home prices in California cities and counties are accessible through C.A.R. Online at http://www.car.org/marketdata/historicalprices/2010medianprices/mar2010medianprices/.

• Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during March 2010 were: Los Altos, $1,476,500; Manhattan Beach, $1,340,000; Palo Alto, $1,264,000; Calabasas, $1,260,000; Newport Beach, $1,102,250; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,017,000; Mill Valley, $910,000; Rancho Palos Verdes, $878,500; Los Gatos, $869,000; and Cupertino, $865,000.

• Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in March 2010 compared with the same period a year ago were: Pittsburg, 42.3 percent; Arcadia, 40.2 percent; National City, 37.7 percent; Auburn, 34.1 percent; Lodi, 33.3 percent; Richmond, 30.4 percent; Placentia, 29.9 percent; Newport Beach, 29.7 percent; Novato, 28.8 percent; and Petaluma, 27.7 percent.

For more information, visit www.car.org.

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