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The California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) continued to report a shortage of inventory in September, which is limiting home sales but seems to be pushing up median home prices.
According to C.A.R., the median home price in California is now at the highest level in more than four years.
The statewide median price of an existing, single-family home reached $345,000 in September, up 0.3 percent from August’s $343,820 median price. The gain was also a 19.5 percent increase from September 2011, the highest yearly gain since May 2010 and the biggest gain overall since August 2008, when the median price was $352,730. For seven straight months now, prices have been increasing monthly and yearly.
Sales, on the other hand, fell in September, sinking 5.2 percent from a revised 510,910 in August and declined 1.2 percent from a revised 490,280 a year ago.
“Sales in the inland and coastal markets continue to move in different directions. Low inventory – especially in distressed areas – is dampening sales activity,” said C.A.R. President LeFrancis Arnold.
LeFrancis added, “The Inland Empire and the Central Valley have experienced double-digit sales declines compared with last year. Meanwhile, sales were higher in San Diego and most Bay Area counties, where the economies appear to be growing faster than the rest of the state.”
Housing inventory in September increased, but still stayed below the norm of a six- to seven-month supply. The Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family homes stood at 3.7 months in September, up from a revised 3.2 months in August and 5.3 months in a year ago, according to C.A.R.
“For the state, at 3.7 months of supply, unsold inventory is still less than half what it would be in a normal market,” said C.A.R. VP and chief economist Leslie Appleton-Young.
Appleton-Young continued, explaining that a constrained supply at the moderate and lower end of the market has led to a nearly 28 percent drop in sales of homes priced under $200,000 and a more than 15 percent drop in sales for homes priced between $200,000 and $300,000.
However, Appleton-Young said homes in the upper price range, where inventory isn’t as much of an issue, saw increases. “[S]ales of homes priced $400,000-$500,000 rose more than 14 percent, and those priced above $500,000 increased more than 15 percent,” she noted.
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