Persistently declining for-sale home inventory helped push the median price of California homes up to its highest level in four years in August, according to a report by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
Closed sales of existing single-family homes in the Golden State also saw gains, rising 2.3 percent on an annual basis in August to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 511,240 units. That’s a 3.4 percent decline from July, but the fifth straight month to see a year-over-year increase.
“A lack of inventory remains an issue, as the housing supply fell more than 30 percent from last year,” said LeFrancis Arnold, the Association’s president, in a statement.
“Inventory levels are at the lowest levels we’ve seen in seven years, and we are starting to see the supply shortage conditions having a negative impact on sales in the Central Valley and the Inland Empire, where REO (real estate owned) properties are in short supply.”
For-sale inventory fell to a supply of 3.2 months at the current sales pace in August, down from a revised 3.5 months in July and a revised 5.2 months in August 2011, C.A.R. said. A supply of six months is considered to be a “normal” market where buyer and seller demand is roughly equal. Last month, only homes selling for more than $1 million were in normal territory with a supply of 6.1 months. Homes under $300,000 had the lowest inventory, with a supply of 2.8 months.
It took a median 41.1 days to sell a single-family home in August, down from 43.2 days in July and a revised 52.5 days a year ago.
The median price of an existing single-family home rose for the sixth straight month in August, up 15.5 percent year over year to $343,820. That’s a 3 percent increase from July, the largest annual price jump in more than two years, and the highest median since August 2008.
“The median price is gaining in part because of a shift in the mix of what is selling,” said CAR Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young in a statement. “The increasing share of sales in higher-priced coastal markets at the expense of the inventory-scare distressed markets has been the primary factor in fueling the statewide median price.”
Higher-priced markets with a “robust economy” are experiencing strong demand and posting double-digit year-over-year price increases, but sales were stagnant or declined in lower-priced markets that rely more on distressed properties, Appleton-Young said.
Sales of homes under $200,000 saw a 13.6 percent year-over-year decrease in August, while sales in every other price range rose. Homes above $500,000 saw the biggest jump, nearly 30 percent.