California is finally ramping up for the spring homebuying season, posting that March single-family home and condominium sales surged to 31,989, a 33.1% jump from 24,031 in February. This is the biggest March increase in three years, according to a report from PropertyRadar.
This is a significant jump from February’s 3.3% rise, moving to 23,404 from 22,659 in January, the largest February increase since 2012.
“For the first time in 16 months, sales were higher than a year earlier,” said Madeline Schnapp, director of economic research for PropertyRadar.
“Pent-up demand, mild winter weather and attractive interest rates have created a wellspring of California housing market sales. Despite the California drought dominating headlines, we aren’t seeing any data indicators that would lead us to believe that the drought is having a negative impact on the market. Obviously we’ll continue to monitor that closely,” said Schnapp.
On a yearly basis, sales were up 8.8% from 29,617 in March 2014. Regionally, March sales gained 27.2% across the nine Bay Area counties, 41.9% in Southern California, and 17.7% in Central California.
The median price of a California home was $393,000 in March, a gain of $18,000, or 4.8%, from $375,000 in February. For the month, median prices rose in 17 of California’s largest 26 counties. On a year-over-year basis, the median price of a California home was up 4.9%.
In addition, March foreclosure starts, notices of defaults, were nearly unchanged from February but were down 15.5% in the past 12 months.
“After eight months of flat to declining prices, the surge in March sales was enough to push prices significantly higher,” said Schnapp. “Affordability, particularly in California’s sought-after coastal areas, has become a big problem. The median income homebuyer in these areas can no longer afford to buy the median priced home. While inventory indicators seem generally favorable, you’d be hard pressed to find buyers who are not complaining of a lack of available homes for sale.”
Meanwhile, existing-homes sales also reported record levels, surging to their highest annual rate in 18 months, showing a promising beginning to the spring homebuying season, the latest report from the National Association of Realtors said.