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RISMEDIA, March 30, 2010—Home sales decreased 11.7% in February 2010 in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home rose 14.1%, the California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) recently reported.

“The federal tax credit for home buyers, low mortgage rates, and affordability at record levels have contributed to an unprecedented opportunity for many first-timers in the market for a home of their own,” said C.A.R. President Steve Goddard. “Although sales have declined from the unusually strong levels we experienced a year ago, they’ve remained above the 500,000 unit threshold for 18 consecutive months, while home prices continue to firm in the regions of the state most attractive to buyers taking advantage of today’s favorable market conditions.”

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 528,930 in February 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 11.7% from the revised 598,770 sales pace recorded in February 2009. Sales in February 2010 decreased 2.2% 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 February 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 February 2010 was $279,840, a 14.1% increase from the revised $245,230 median for February 2009, C.A.R. reported. The February 2010 median price decreased 2.4% compared with January’s $286,600 median price.

“Sales of distressed properties to investors and first-time buyers continued to drive the market in February, although at a lesser rate than a year ago,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “Supply continues to lag demand at the more affordable end of the market, with a 3.9 month supply of homes for sale priced below $300,000, compared with the long-run average of more than seven months. This contrasts sharply with the nearly 15-month supply of homes for sale priced at $1 million or more at the upper end of the market.”

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

-C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in February 2010 was 6.3 months, compared with 7.1 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 4.99% during February 2010, compared with 5.13% in February 2009, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.23% in February 2010, compared with 4.87% in February 2009.

-The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 41.2 days in February 2010, compared with 51.4 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.

-Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during February 2010 were: Newport Beach, $1,000,000; Santa Monica, $781,250; Danville, $755,000; Santa Barbara, $725,000; San Clemente, $685,000; Pleasanton, $650,000; Mountain View, $637,500; San Francisco, $637,441; Redondo Beach, $615,000; and Sunnyvale, $609,500.

-Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in February 2010 compared with the same period a year ago were: Banning, 44.4%; Richmond, 38.9%; La Habra, 35.9%; Rancho Mirage, 33%; Vista, 29.3%; National City, 29%; Oakland, 29%; El Cajon, 28.1%; San Pablo, 26.3%; Fremont, 26%; and Pittsburg, 25.8%.

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