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RISMEDIA, June 29, 2009-Home sales increased 35.2% in May in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home declined 30.4%, the California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) reported today.

“With affordability for first-time buyers at a record high, sales of existing, single-family homes continued to remain above the 500,000 level for the ninth consecutive month,” said C.A.R. President James Liptak. “Buyers are beginning to realize that the combination of favorable home prices, historically low mortgage rates, and first-time home buyer tax credits, may not align again for many years.

“The sales gains over last year have diminished in recent months,” he added. “This trend is expected to continue through the end of the year, as limited inventory at the moderate and low end of the market constrains sales activity,” he said.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 556,590 in May 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 35.2% from the revised 411,770 sales pace recorded in May 2008. Sales in May 2009 increased 2.9% 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 May 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 May 2009 was $267,570, a 30.4% decrease from the revised $384,540 median for May 2008, C.A.R. reported. The May 2009 median price rose 4.2% compared with April’s $256,700 median price.

“The statewide median price rose for the third consecutive month in May, posting the largest monthly increase on record for the month of May, according to statistics dating back to 1979,” said C.A.R. Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “Nearly all regions in the state reported positive month-to-month changes in median price.

“Inventory levels are well below the long-run average of seven months, which may account for the increase in median price,” added Appleton-Young. “Although the state continues to operate in a bifurcated market, improved access to lending and price adjustments have led to increased activity in the high-end segment,” she added.

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

– C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in May 2009 was 4.2 months, compared with 8.7 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 4.86% during May 2009, compared with 6.04% in May 2008, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.75% in May 2009, compared with 5.24% in May 2008.

– The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 53.5 days in May 2009, compared with 49.2 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, nine of the 353 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 April may be exaggerated due to compositional changes in housing demand.

Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during May 2009 were: Los Altos, $1,484,000; Palo Alto, $1,400,000; Cupertino, $965,000; Santa Barbara, $870,750; Danville, $785,500; Los Gatos, $769,500; Newport Beach, $767,500; Santa Monica, $740,000; Arcadia, $700,000; and Campbell, $691,000.

Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in May 2009 compared with the same period a year ago were: Poway, 29.7%; Auburn, 8.3%; Arcadia, 7.5%; Atascadero, 6.3%; Cypress, 5.0%; Palo Alto, 4.9%; Campbell, 4.7%; Walnut, 2.3%; and Torrance, 0.4%.

For sales and price tables, please visit