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CAR: Much to love in Feb. home sales, prices report

CAR: Much to love in Feb. home sales, prices report

By Ron Trujillo/ ron@calhomenews.com

Fast-rising interest rates helped jump-start the housing market in February, as home-shoppers raced to beat more rate hikes expected in the coming months.

Statewide sales reached an annualized rate of 422,910 homes in February, a 3.3% increase compared to January and up 5.4% from a year ago, according to the California Association of Realtors. The annualized figure is how many homes would sell during a year at the February pace.

The annual increase was the largest since March 2017, while the month-to-month gain was the best since JUne 2017 — the latest evidence that the booming housing market remains.

Steve White

“February’s solid market performance was likely fueled by rising interest rates, which motivated buyers to rush in and close escrow before rates move even higher as they’re anticipated to do in the coming months,” says CAR president Steve White. “Despite losing ground in January, February’s strong sales gain more than covered the loss, resulting in a 1.1% increase so far this year.”

Fixed-rate mortgages have climbed about a half percentage point since November, and the Federal Reserve’s recent increase has prompted fence-sitting home shoppers to become more serious about becoming homeowners.

The demand coupled with few homes on the market continue to help increase prices — creating a  hefty payday for sellers and more pain for buyers. February’s median-home price jumped 8.8% to $522,420, compared to a year ago. The median-home price, meaning half the homes sold for more and the other half for less, has remained above $500,000 during the past year.

Leslie Appleton-Young

“Home prices across the state continued to grow in general, especially in the Bay Area region, where seven of nine counties posted double-digit annual increases and five of nine counties surpassed their previous peak prices,” says Leslie Appleton-Young, CAR senior vice president and chief economist. “What’s more, with single-family home prices rising rapidly out of reach, buyers increasingly turned to condominiums, which pushed the median price of condominiums to a record high.”

California’s median-condo price soared 13.3% to $461,400.

The Bay Area has the highest-priced homes, with four counties above the $1 million market, led by San Francisco at $1.73 million. San Mateo County was the second-highest priced market at $1.61 million, followed by Santa Clara and Marin counties at $1.38 million and $1.37 million, respectively.

Tehama County in Northern California is the most affordable market $189,000, or almost one-third the statewide median-home price.

Prices around the state

San Francisco

$1.73 million, up 35.6% vs. year ago

San Diego

$605,000, up 8% vs. year ago

Los Angeles

$527,280, up 12.1% vs year ago

Sacramento

$350,000, up 7.7% vs. year ago.

Fresno

$265,000, up 15.2% vs. year ago

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