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RISMEDIA, Feb. 27, 2008-Home sales decreased 29.8% in January in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home fell 21.9%, the California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) reported.

“This most recent decrease in the median price is yet another result of the liquidity crunch, which has choked off sales in recent months for nearly half of California’s housing market,” said C.A.R. President William E. Brown. “Sales do appear to be edging up, but recent declines in the median price have been due to a lack of sales in the over $500,000 range, where funds are extremely scarce and jumbo loan rates are at near-record margins compared to conforming loan rates.”

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 313,580 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 decreased 29.8% from the 446,820 sales pace recorded in January 2007.

The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2008 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 2008 was $430,370, a 21.9% decrease from the $551,220 median for January 2007, C.A.R. reported. The January 2008 median price fell 9.7% compared with December’s revised $476,380 median price.

“The slight increase in sales predates the president’s signing of an economic stimulus package including a temporary increase in the conforming loan limit, but that much needed reform could give the market some momentum,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “Let’s hope Congress and the president see fit to make the higher loan limit permanent.”

Highlights of C.A.R.’s resale housing figures for January 2008:

C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in January 2008 was 16.8 months, compared with 7.6 months 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 5.76% during January 2008, compared with 6.22% in January 2007, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 5.23% in January 2008, compared with 5.47% in January 2007.
The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 71.6 days in January 2008, compared with 68.7 for the same period a year ago.
Regional MLS sales and price information is 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, 6.3%, or 16 out of 253 cities and communities, 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 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 January may be exaggerated due to compositional changes in housing demand.

Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during January 2008 were: Newport Beach, $1,250,000; Danville, $1,037,000; San Clemente, $923,500; Santa Barbara, $895,000; Yorba Linda, $807,500; Redondo Beach, $800,100; Redwood City, $757,500; San Ramon, $753,500; San Francisco, $744,500; and Sunnyvale, $708,500.

Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the greatest median home price increases in January 2008 compared with the same period a year ago were: Redondo Beach, 11.1%; Danville, 6.9%; San Diego, 5.2%; Arcadia, 4.2%; San Clemente, 2%; Los Angeles, 1.5%; Sunnyvale, 1.2%; Walnut Creek, 0.8%; Thousand Oaks, 0.4%; and Redwood City, 0.3%.

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