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California’s median home price jumps 10% to $615,090

Inventory shortage and low mortgage rates boosted competition for homes

The median price for a single-family home in California jumped 10% in December, the biggest year-over-year gain in more than four years, as low mortgage rates and a shortage of homes for sale boosted competition for properties.

The state’s median home price was $615,090, more than double the U.S. median, according to the California Association of Realtors. Home sales rose 7.4% compared with December 2018.

“California experienced an unusual jump in its median price at the end of the year when the market is supposed to cool down,” said CAR Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “The surge in price is a byproduct of the imbalance between supply and demand as market competition continues to heat up.”

The supply of homes for sale, measured as the amount of time it would take to sell off existing stock, shrank to 2.5 months from 3.5 months a year earlier.

The Los Angeles metro area saw the biggest jump in home prices, up 10% from a year earlier to a median of $550,000. Sales surged 16%, CAR said.

The next-biggest jump was in the cheapest area of the state. The Central Valley, an inland swath that runs about 450 miles from Bakersfield to Redding, had a median price of $342,000 in December, a jump of 7.7% from a year earlier, according to CAR data. Sales rose 12% in the same period.

The Inland Empire, east of Los Angeles, had a median price of $385,000, up 7.2% from a year ago, and sales were up 13%, the CAR report said.

The San Francisco Bay area, the most expensive region, had a median price of $908,750, up 6.9% from a year ago. Sales jumped 16% in the same period.

The Central Coast, stretching from Los Angeles to San Francisco, had a 2.2% drop in median price to $700,000. Sales surged up 42% as buyers rushed to snap up the lower prices, CAR said.

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