Real Estate

California home sales off to slowest start since 2008

Inventory and price tug-of-war likely to continue

California January through April’s home sales were down 4.5% annually to 117,235, the lowest level for that time frame since 2008, according to PropertyRadar, a software, data and analysis products provider for real estate professionals.

In April alone, single-family home and condominium sales totaled 35,978, an increase of 5.8% from March, but down 8.3% from last year’s 39,219. This represents the lowest sales volume for April since 2011.

“We are well into the spring selling season and sales volumes are still near their lowest levels since 2008,” said Madeline Schnapp, PropertyRadar director of economic research. “The lack of inventory means the tug-of-war between inventory and price will likely continue for the foreseeable future.”

“While authorized building permits in California are approaching the highest levels since 2007, new inventory of any volume won’t arrive until 2017 or 2018,” Schnapp said.

Of course, home prices continue to rise with prices from March to April rising 5.5% from median home sales of $410,000 to $432,500. Prices rose still more from a year ago at 6.8% from April 2015’s median home price of $405,000.

Previous HousingWire coverage shows that what was presumed to be the hottest buying season of the year isn’t shaping up to that due to a flurry of factors that are growing into the "perfect storm" to hinder housing, explained Kevin Golden, director of analytics with a la mode, at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Secondary conference in New York City.

“Prices jumped this past month as seasonal pent-up demand slammed head-on into an inventory constrained market,” Schnapp said. “Although California is still finding buyers, there’s no question that at some point, and perhaps happening now, buyers are going to put their hands up and sit tight or even consider out-of-state options.”

Northern California saw the largest annual price appreciation.

Out of the 26 largest counties in the state, here are the ones with the highest yearly increase:

  • Santa Clara at 16.3%
  • Merced at 13.9%
  • Sonoma at 13.7%
  • Monterey at 13.4%
  • Alameda at 11.6%
  • Marin at 11.1%

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