California January Home Sales

February 16, 2012

An estimated 28,111 new and resale houses and condos were sold statewide last month. That was down 25.5 percent from 37,734 in December, and up 1.5 percent from 27,706 for January 2011. A decline from December to January is normal for the season. On a year-over-year basis sales have increased the past six months. California sales for the month of January have varied from a low of 19,145 in 2008 to a high of 47,138 in 2004, while the average is 31,717. DataQuick's statistics go back to 1988.

The median price paid for a home last month was $236,000, down 4.1 percent from $246,000 in December, and down 1.3 percent from $239,000 for January a year ago. The median has decreased on a year-over-year basis for the last 16 months. The bottom of the current cycle was $221,000 in April 2009, while the peak was $484,000 in early 2007.

Distressed property sales – the combination of foreclosure resales and “short sales” – continued to make up more than half of California’s resale market.

Of the existing homes sold last month, 34.5 percent were properties that had been foreclosed on during the past year. That was up from a revised 33.9 percent in December and down from 40.4 percent in January a year ago. The all-time high was in February 2009 at 58.5 percent.

Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – made up an estimated 21.4 percent of resales last month. That was up from 19.6 percent in December and up from 18.7 percent in January 2011. Two years ago short sales made up an estimated 18.1 percent of the resale market.

The typical mortgage payment that home buyers committed themselves to paying last month was $893. That was the lowest since $882 in February 1999. Adjusted for inflation it was the lowest since at least 1988 .

DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity is high, but well below peak levels. Financing with multiple mortgages is low, down payment sizes are stable, and cash and non-owner occupied buying remain at or near record levels, DataQuick reported.