Thursday, April 30, 2009

CAR March Sales and Price Report

From the California Association of Realtors March home sales increased 63.8 percent

Quick Facts:
· Existing, single-family home sales increased 63.8 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted rate of 522,980 on an annualized basis
· The statewide median price of an existing single-family home increased 2.2 percent in March to
$253,040 compared with February 2009
· C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index fell to 5 months in March, compared with 12.2 months in March 2008
· The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home declined to 48.3 days in March 2009, compared with 56.8 days in March 2008
C.A.R. reports March home sales increased 63.8 percent, median home price declined 39 percent

LOS ANGELES (April 27) – Home sales increased 63.8 percent in March in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home declined 39 percent, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported today.

“The March sales figure of 522,980 homes indicates that the market continues to be very active,” said C.A.R. President James Liptak. “All of the regions in the state experienced increases in month-to-month raw sales, with the smallest gain in the Sacramento region at 9.7 percent and the largest gain in the Riverside/San Bernardino region at 32.2 percent.”

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 522,980 in March 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 63.8 percent from the revised 319,290 sales pace recorded in March 2008. Sales in March 2009 decreased 16 percent 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 March 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 March 2009 was $253,040, a 39 percent decrease from the revised $414,520 median for March 2008, C.A.R. reported. The March 2009 median price rose 2.2 percent compared with February’s $247,590 median price.

“The statewide median price showed the first monthly increase since August 2007, and has remained in the $250,000 range over the past three months,” said C.A.R.’s Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “A number of regions around the state also have registered monthly gains for one or more months since the beginning of this year. While these are welcome signs, it remains to be seen whether home prices have stabilized.

“While we still face continued weakness in the general economy and expect continued foreclosures, the increased incidence of multiple offers indicates that first-time home buyers and investors are responding to dramatically improved housing affordability. Low mortgage rates and house prices, coupled with the federal first-time home buyer tax credit, is having a definite impact on the California housing market,” Appleton-Young added.

We were expecting this increase in Beware the False Bottom

In other words, high-end markets will be falling as price discovery rears its ugly head, while low-end markets are flat at best, as price declines reach exhaustion levels and investors step in to buy. High levels of supply and looming shadow inventory of foreclosures will prevent meaningful appreciation in these distressed areas for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, data will show a housing market on the rebound.

No doubt, banks like Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America will cheer the end of the real-estate slump. Real estate professionals will pound the table that now's the time to buy (just like they said back in 2007). Government officials will proudly assert their mortgage-relief efforts were a success.

Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.