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Will California real estate experience the toughest year yet in 2017?

Projected to have lowest housing affordability in six years

The trials that plagued the California housing market in 2016 aren’t expected to get too much better in 2017 as the real estate market is projected to face another year of supply shortages and affordability constraints, according to the "2017 California Housing Market Forecast" released by the California Association of Realtors.

CAR predicted that 2016 would face a shortage of available inventory and continued high costs that would limit the state’s improvement, a predication that ultimately came true according to the state’s real estate agents.

Affordability is only projected to get worse, which is currently already California real estate agents' No. 1 concern for the market.

"Next year, California's housing market will be driven by tight housing supplies and the lowest housing affordability in six years,” said CAR President Pat "Ziggy" Zicarelli.

However, he added, "The market will experience regional differences, with more affordable areas, such as the Inland Empire and Central Valley, outperforming the urban coastal centers, where high home prices and a limited availability of homes on the market will hamper sales.”

“As a result, the Southern California and Central Valley regions will see moderate sales increases, while the San Francisco Bay Area will experience a decline as homebuyers migrate to peripheral cities with more affordable options," said Zicarelli.

The CAR predicts existing home sales will modestly increase and rise 1.4% next year to reach 413,000 units, up slightly from the projected 2016 sales figure of 407,300 homes sold. 

Sales in 2016 also will be virtually flat at 407,300 existing, single-family home sales, compared with the 408,800 pace of homes sold in 2015.

Interest rates aren’t estimated to change significantly, with the average 30-year, fixed mortgage interest rates to only rise to 4% in 2017, up from 3.6% in 2016.

Meanwhile, California home prices are forecast to slow down in pace, with the median home price to increase 4.3% to $525,600 in 2017, following a projected 6.2% increase in 2016 to $503,900, representing the slowest rate of price appreciation in six years.

The state’s overall U.S. Gross Domestic Product is projected to grow 2.2% in 2017, after a projected gain of 1.5% in 2016, while California's nonfarm job growth will rise 1.6%, down from a projected 2.3% in 2016.

"With the California economy continuing to outperform the nation, the demand for housing will remain robust even with supply and affordability constraints still very much in evidence. The net result will be California's housing market posting a modest increase in 2017," said CAR Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.

"The underlying fundamentals continue to support overall home sales growth, but headwinds, such as global economic uncertainty and deteriorating housing affordability, will temper stronger sales activity," Appleton-Young continued.

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