March 15, 2012
An estimated 29,630 new and resale houses and condos were sold across California last month. That was up 5.4 percent from 28,111 in January, and up 8.5 percent from 27,320 in February 2011.
A slight increase in sales from January to February is normal for the season. Last month’s sales were the strongest for a February since 31,228 homes were sold in 2007. On a year-over-year basis, sales have increased the past seven months. Statewide sales for the month of February have varied from a low of 20,513 in 2008 to a high of 48,409 in 2004, while the average is 32,017. DataQuick’s statistics go back to 1988.
The median price paid for a California home last month was $239,000, up 1.3 percent from $236,000 in January, and down 2.0 percent from $244,000 for February a year ago. The median has decreased on a year-over-year basis for the last 17 months. The median’s low point for the current cycle was $221,000 in April 2009, while its peak was $484,000 in early 2007.
Distressed property sales – the combination of foreclosure resales and “short sales” – continued to make up more than half of California’s resale market.
Of the existing homes sold last month, 34.3 percent were properties that had been foreclosed on during the past year. That was unchanged from January and down from 40.1 percent in February a year ago. The high point for the current cycle was in February 2009 at 58.5 percent.
Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – made up an estimated 20.9 percent of the resale market last month. That was down from 21.2 percent the month before and up from 18.7 percent a year earlier. Two years ago short sales made up an estimated 17.5 percent of the resale market.
The typical mortgage payment that home buyers committed themselves to paying last month was $901. That was up slightly from January’s $893, which was the lowest since $882 in February 1999. Adjusted for inflation, last month’s typical payment was 59.8 percent below the 1989 peak of the prior real estate cycle, and 67.4 percent below the 2006 peak of the current cycle.
DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.
Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity is high, but well below peak levels. Financing with multiple mortgages is low, down payment sizes are stable, and cash and non-owner occupied buying remain at or near record levels, DataQuick reported.