Housing inventory increased as sellers gear up for the spring home-buying season according to the California Association of Realtors.
Sales of existing, single-family homes in California totaled 361,210 units in February, according to information collected by CAR from more than 90 local realtor associations and MLSs statewide. Marking the fourth straight month, February sales were below the 400,000 level. Slipping February sales, 0.7 percent down from a revised 363,930 closed sales in January. This is down 13.7 percent from a revised 418,520 in February 2013.
According to CAR President Kevin Brown, “The slower sales in February reflects diminished housing affordability after three years of solid price increases and interest rates that are nearly a full percentage point higher than a year ago,” “With the interest rate difference alone, home buyers this year would have to pay $150 more per month on their mortgage payment than last year, a substantial amount for many would-be home buyers trying to get into the market.”
California median price of an existing, single-family homes declined 1.6 percent from January’s median price of $410,990 to $404,250 in February. February’s price was 21.3 percent higher than the $333,180 recorded in February 2013, marking two full years of consecutive year-over-year price increases and the 20th straight month of double-digit annual gains
Housing supply conditions in the housing market have shown some improvement since the end of last year, except for lower price range distressed homes, which has depleted. In the mid-priced range of $300,000-$750,000, which covers nearly half of all home sales in California, inventory is up 27 percent, while the supply of high-end homes over $1 million is up 13 percent from a year ago.
Housing inventory improved in February, with the available supply of existing, single-family detached homes for sale rising in February to 4.7 months, up from January’s Unsold Inventory Index of 4.3 months. A six- to seven-month supply is considered typical in a normal market. The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home fell to 40 days in February, down from 44.3 days in January.
Mortgage rates were lower in February, with the 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaging 4.30 percent, down from 4.43 percent in January and remaining historically low.
According to all the data available, it is still a great time to buy a home. First time home buyers have slowed due to rising school loan debt and the new qualified mortgage rules, but move up buyer activity has increased. If you are considering buying or selling a home, consult a realtor for assistance.
Eileen Schamber is the president of the Lodi Association of Realtors and can be reached at email@example.com.