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April home sales slow, prices reach highest level since August 2007

April home sales slow, prices reach highest level since August 2007

By Ron Trujillo/ron@calhomenews.com

California’s booming housing market took a breather in April, as declining inventory and fast-rising prices slowed sales.

Existing home sales dipped to an annual pace of 406,300, down 2.4% from March and off 1.7% from a year ago, according to the California Association of Realtors. Despite the decline, home sales remained above the 400,000 mark for the 13th-consecutive month, quite the accomplishment since fewer homes were listed.

Geoff McIntosh

“With pending home sales slowing over the past thee months, April’s sales decline was not a surprise,” says CAR president Geoff McIntosh. “Some sales that took place in the first quarter were likely pulled forward as homebuyers took advantage of the favorable interest rate environment and decided to purchase now before rates increase.”

Home shoppers are battling higher home prices and interest rates, and a severe shortage of available homes on the market.

New statewide active listings declined for the 22nd-consecutive month in April, falling 10.5% from a year ago. About seven of 10 counties had a drop in inventory, with San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Alameda reporting two months or less of inventory at the current pace.

“Moving forward, the housing market may temper further as interest rates inch up and the supply of available homes for sale tightens,” McIntosh says.

High demand coupled with the low supply created the near-perfect situation for home prices to reach $536,750 – the highest level since August 2007. April’s median-home price – meaning half the homes sold for more, the other half for less – was up 3.7% compared to March and 5.4% from a year ago.

Leslie Appleton-Young

“California’s median home price has been on an upward trend on an annual basis since March 2012, and is now at the highest in nearly 10 years,” says Leslie Appleton-Young, senior vice president and chief economist for CAR. “The yearly price gains will most likely persist through the remainder of the home-buying season, further exacerbating an already low housing affordability situation. This could have an adverse effect on home sales in the upcoming months, especially since interest rates are expected to rise in the second half of the year.”

About one of three households could buy a home during the first quarter, according to the most recent CAR affordability report.

The Bay Area continues to have the most expensive counties in the state, with San Mateo leading the way at $1.5 million, followed by San Francisco at $1.4 million.

Orange County is the priciest market in Southern California, with a median-home price of $775,000.

The most affordable county in the state? Lassen County in Northern California at $175,000.

Feature photo of Orange County homes by Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock.

San Francisco

$1.4 million, up 0.2%

Santa Barbara

$745,000, up 2.8%

San Diego

$590,000, up 5.9%

Los Angeles

$489,230, up 5.0%

Sacramento

$326,000, up 5.5%

Fresno

$240,000, up 4.8%

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