October 14, 2011

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 14) – Heightened economic uncertainty contributed to a decrease in California home sales in September, according to data from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). However, September home sales posted higher on a year-to-year basis for the third consecutive month and remain at stable levels.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California fell to a seasonally adjusted 487,940 units in September, down 2.1 percent from a revised 498,320 in August, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. However, September home sales were up 4.1 percent from the revised 468,700 units sold during the like period a year ago. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2011 if sales maintained the September pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

September’s sales decline was not a surprise, given the run of economic events that occurred during the time these sales were initiated, such as the debt debate, weakened stock market, and pending changes to the conforming loan limit, said C.A.R. President Beth L. Peerce. This heightened uncertainty, coupled with the lower conforming loan limit, which some large lenders began implementing in early July, had an adverse impact on September sales.

The September statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home sold in California was $287,440, down 3.2 percent from a revised $297,060 in August and down 8.3 percent from the $313,460 median price recorded for September 2010.

While the median price declined in September, we’ve seen nominal month-to-month changes in the statewide median price since February, indicating some stability in home prices, said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. Additionally, September home sales remained on track with expectations for this year, and sales for all of 2011 should be about even with last year, slightly above 490,000 units.

Other key facts of C.A.R.’s resale housing report for September 2011 include:

The Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes was 5.1 months in September, essentially unchanged from 5.0 months in August but down from a revised 5.9 months in September 2010. 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 4.11 percent during September 2011, down from 4.35 percent in September 2010, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 2.84 percent in July 2011, compared with 3.46 percent in September 2010.

The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 54.4 days in September 2011, compared with 50.3 days for the same period a year ago.

Note: The County MLS median price and sales data in the tables are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® throughout the state, and represent statistics of existing single-family detached homes only. County sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales. Movements in sales prices should not be interpreted as changes in the cost of a standard home. Median prices can be influenced by changes in cost, as well as changes in the characteristics and the size of homes sold. Due to the low sales volume in some areas, median price changes in June may exhibit unusual fluctuation.

Leading the way® in California real estate for more than 100 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (www.car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States, with more than 160,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.