California single-family home and condominium sales fell 5.6% to 32,017 units from 33,931 in August, PropertyRadar reports, blamed largely on high prices, falling demand and tight lending.
Sales are down 4.4% from 33,484 sales in September 2013. September 2014 sales were the lowest September sales since 2007.
On a regional basis, over the past 12 months sales are down 3.7% in the Bay Area, 4.9% in Southern California and 8.3% in the Central Valley.
“The California real estate market is stuck in low gear,” said Madeline Schnapp, director of economic research for PropertyRadar. “High prices and relatively tough lending standards have pushed many would be homeowners to the sidelines.”
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The steady decline of lower priced distressed properties available for sale has been a key factor depressing sales.
Whereas in September 2013 23% of sales were distressed properties, in September 2014 distressed property sales comprised only 16.6% of the total. In September 2011, 55.2% of sales were distressed property sales.
The median price of a California home in September was 385,000 dollars, down 1.3% from 390,000 dollars in August. Median prices have been flat 390,000 dollars since June 2014. On a year-ago basis, median home prices gained 8.5%, the slowest monthly gain since June 2012. Month-over-month price variations are impacted heavily by the sales of non-distressed properties, which in September comprised 83.5% of total sales.
A better measure of median price movement occurs when sales are divided into distressed property sales and non-distressed property sales. The median price of non-distressed homes fell 1.4% for the month but increased 5.3% over the past 12 months. Meanwhile the median price of distressed homes was unchanged for the month is up 7.8% from a year ago.
On a county level, median price increases have slowed or peaked in many of California’s largest counties. In September 13 of California’s 26 largest counties experienced monthly price declines compared to only six in March.
“From mid-2012 through June of this year, median prices in most of California’s largest counties were experiencing double digit year-over-year increases,” said Schnapp. “Since then, median prices increases have slowed or reversed in response to a fall-off in demand.”