Retail home sale prices 88% higher than California REO

[Update: Headline corrected] Even though distressed home sales still take up more than half of the California market, these properties sell for a significant discount, according to the California Association of Realtors. Distressed home sales accounted for 51% of the California market in March, down from 56% in February but unchanged from one year ago, according to the California Association of Realtors. In March, traditional home sales sold for a median $386,500, which was 41% higher than short sales and 88% higher than the REO median price of $205,000, CAR said. REO made up 31% of all sales statewide, flat from the month before and one year ago. Short sales stayed at 20% as well. And the supply of REO is likely to remain steady for some time. Standard & Poor's estimates the shadow inventory for the entire state to remain for 24 to 48 months (see graph below). With distressed property taking up so much of the market, the overall median home price in the state stands at $286,010 and remains 4.9% below the level measured one year ago. However, it did increase 5.4% from the previous month. Foreclosure filings are on the decline, however. Lenders made at least one filing somewhere in the foreclosure process on a total of 168,543 properties in the first quarter, by far the most of any state, according to RealtyTrac. However, it did drop 22% from the first quarter of 2010. "Consistent with the state as a whole, nearly all the counties for which we have data also experienced an improvement in distressed sales," said CAR President Beth Peerce. "However, distressed sales in most of the counties were higher than a year ago, as the market continues to work through large numbers of troubled mortgages." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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