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Home prices, sales March up

Home prices, sales March up

By Ron Trujillo/ron@calhomenews.com

California’s spring home-buying season has arrived, with higher home prices and strong sales in March.

Homebuyers shrugged off climbing interest rates and higher prices, purchasing a seasonally adjusted 423,990 homes and condos in March — a 0.3 increase compared to February and up 1.6% from March 2017, according to the California Association of Realtors. The statewide annualized sales figures represents what would be the total number of homes sold for the year based on the pace in March.

Most regions reported healthy sales increases, from the Bay Area and the Sacramento region to parts of Southern California. Even the Central Valley, from Bakersfield to Stockton, enjoyed solid month-to-month increases.

Many Bay Area consumers priced out of the local market are looking at the lower-priced Central Valley and the Sacramento region.

“The housing market performed solidly throughout the state in March, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, which led the way with six counties posting sales increases and the median price surging by double-digits in seven of nine counties,” says CAR president Steve White. “On the other hand, sales in the Southern California region have cooled for the past five months, even in the more affordable Riverside and San Bernardino areas.”

The median-home price reached $546,830 in March, an 8.1% increase compared to February — and up 8.9% from a year ago. The current price is the highest since August, and the year-over-year was the largest increase since January 2016.

High-cost regions, especially the Bay Area, accounted for much of the 8%-plus gains.

“While the decline in the number of active listings has slowed dramatically since the beginning of the year, inventory still remains tight, which is driving home prices higher,” says Leslie Appleton-Young, senior vice president and chief economist for CAR. “Housing demand remains strong and competition is fierce, especially in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The year-over-year price gain has been growing at or above 7% for nine of the past 10 months.”

How much of a demand in those three counties? Homes are entering escrow in eight to 14 days, among the fastest pace in the state.

San Francisco is the highest-priced housing market, with a median price of $1.68 million, followed by San Mateo at $1.62 million. Santa Clara and Marin counties also had prices above $1 million in March.

Lassen County had the lowest price at $135,000, but the community has few homes and transactions.

Prices around the state

San Francisco

$1.68 million, up 24.4% from a year ago

Santa Barbara

$698,000, down 13.8% from a year ago

Napa

$675,000, no change from a year ago

Los Angeles

$528,980, up 13.5% from a year ago

Bakersfield

$232,500, up 3.3% from a year ago

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