California pending home sales spike in February
Pending home sales in California spiked during February, a possible indication for a positive spring selling season. The California Association of Realtors' Pending Home Sales Index rose 20.6% in February to 112.1 from 93 in January. The index uses 2008 housing market activity as a baseline because it represents a more normal level of purchases and sales. An index reading of 100 corresponds with activity in 2008. The index is down 1.6% from February 2010, when the federal tax credit played a strong role in market demand, CAR said. "The increase in pending sales is typical for this time of year, as we usually see a seasonal improvement in the spring," said Beth Peerce, president of CAR. Distressed property sales also increased last month, up to 56% of total home sales. Of those distressed property sales, 33% were attributable to real estate-owned sales and 23% were from short sales. One year prior, the percentages were 36% and 19%, respectively. Solano County reported the highest number of distressed properties sales as a percentage of total sales during February at 77%. That was followed by San Bernardino at 76%, Sacramento at 71% and Riverside at 71%, according to CAR. The median price for a short sale was $275,000 in February, while the median price for an REO was $199,900. The median sale price for a nondistressed property was $370,000, CAR said. DataQuick reported the California median home sales price down for the fifth straight month after 11 months of increases. DataQuick said the median price across all property types sat at $244,000 in February. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.