No joy for California sales as weak inventory weighs

by Steve Randall20 Feb 2018

Sales of existing, single-family homes in California have started the year in decline as inventory remains stubbornly low.

California Association of Realtors says that January’s sales of 388,800 meant a 7.6% drop from December, and a 2.9% year-over-year decrease. It was the first time since March 2016 that the statewide sales figure has dropped below 400,000.

“A persistent shortage of housing inventory and continued affordability crunch is beginning to eat away at the market as buyers struggle to find available homes for sale,” said C.A.R. President Steve White. “As such, we’re seeing a shift in sales toward inland areas such as San Bernardino County in Southern California, and Placer, San Joaquin, Sacramento, and Stanislaus counties, which are all adjacent to the inventory- and price-challenged San Francisco Bay Area.”

The shortage pushed the statewide median sales price up to $527,800, down 4% from the previous month but up 7.3% from January 2017. It was the eleventh straight month that the price was above $500K.

Nineteen counties posted double-digit yearly price increases, and nine counties posted price declines from last year, though prices in Napa and Monterey were mostly flat.

San Mateo and Santa Clara, already two of the state’s least affordable housing markets, saw home prices surge by at least 25% on a year-over-year basis.

“A tale of two markets continues to be the theme of California’s housing market with the lower end of the market bearing the brunt of the housing shortage as sales of homes priced under $300,000 declined by 17.2% from a year ago,” said C.A.R. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie-Appleton-Young. “At the other end of the spectrum where inventory is less constrained, homes priced $1 million and higher posted solid annual sales gains, especially in the $1.5 million-$2 million range, which jumped 24%.”

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