Sales of single-family homes in California were up in September from the previous year, but momentum has slowed due to a shortage of homes for sale and worries that interest rates could rise.
Those are among the key findings from a report issued Wednesday by the California Association of Realtors, based on information collected from more than 90 local Realtor associations and multiple listing services statewide.
“While it’s encouraging that statewide home sales improved both monthly and annually, the year-over-year sales rate is losing steam, reflecting the persistent shortage of homes for sale and an easing of concern over a surge in mortgage rates,” said association president Geoff McIntosh in a statement.
“Additionally, for the areas that have been affected by the recent wildfires, we anticipate sales will pull back in those regions as damages are assessed and replacement efforts are coordinated.”
Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California remained above the 400,000 benchmark for the past 18 months and totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 436,920 units in September.
The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2017 if sales maintained the September pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.
The September sales figure was up 2.2 percent from the 427,630 level in August and up 1.7 percent compared with home sales in September 2016 of a revised 429,760. While year-to-date sales are running 2.6 percent ahead of last year’s pace, that margin has been eroding since the first quarter.
After reaching its highest level in a decade in August, the statewide median price slipped in September but remained above the $500,000 mark for the seventh straight month.
The $565,330 August median price dropped 1.8 percent to $555,410 in September but climbed 7.5 percent from the revised $516,450 recorded in September 2016. The median sales price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling, as well as a general change in values.
“The statewide median price rose at the fastest annual pace since February 2017 as the housing supply shortage continued to dictate the market, taking a toll on home sales and affordability,” said Leslie-Appleton-Young, the association’s senior vice president and chief economist.
“The tight inventory situation is particularly acute in the Bay Area region, which saw double-digit price increases in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Santa Clara counties, while sales fell markedly from the previous year in six of the nine Bay Area counties.”
Other key points from C.A.R.’s September 2017 resale housing report include:
• All major regions experienced month-to-month and annual sales declines, with sales in the San Francisco Bay Area declining 4.2 percent from a year ago, the Inland Empire falling 4.0 percent, and the Los Angeles metro region decreasing 2.5 percent from September 2016.
• In general, home prices across the state continued to grow in September. Forty-one of the 51 reported counties recorded a year-over-year price increase, with 20 of them growing at double-digit rates.
• Statewide active listings continued to decline in September, dropping 11.2 percent from a year ago. Since the beginning of the year, active listings have declined by more than 10 percent every month, and the number of available listings for sale has trended downward for more than two years.