The median price of an existing home in California in October increased 21.4 percent since October 2003, to $460,370, and sales increased 0.5 percent in that time, the California Association of Realtors reported today.

The October 2004 median price decreased 0.7 percent compared with a revised $463,620 median price in September 2004. Median condo prices in the state increased from $369,380 in September 2004 to $373,310 in October 2004, and were up 26.1 percent from October 2003.

“While the median price of a home continued to charge ahead in October compared with a year ago, sales moderated to a more sustainable pace, typical for this time of year,” said Jim Hamilton, president of the California association.

“The inventory of homes for sale also increased to nearly a four-month supply, compared with about a two-month supply a year ago,” he said. “This is giving buyers a greater number of options when looking for a home, and also is reflected in the time it’s taking to list and sell a home, which has increased to 37 days – its highest level since July 1999.”

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 639,570 in October at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected from more than 90 local Realtor associations statewide. Statewide home resale activity increased 0.5 percent from the 636,690 sales pace recorded in October 2003.

The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2004 would be if sales maintained the October pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

“Year-to-date sales are up 4.1 percent compared with the same period a year ago, in line with our expectations,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, the association’s vice president and chief economist. “October was the ninth month where the year-over-year price has increased by more than 20 percent, with the most rapid appreciation occurring in the shrinking pockets of affordability in the state – the High Desert, Riverside/San Bernardino and Palm Springs/Lower Desert regions.”

Highlights of the association’s resale housing figures for October 2004:

  • The association’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in October 2004 was 3.7 months, compared with 2.1 months (revised) for the same period a year ago. The index indicates the number of months needed to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.

  • Thirty-year fixed mortgage interest rates averaged 5.72 percent during October 2004, down from 5.95 percent in October 2003, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable mortgage interest rates averaged 4.02 percent in October 2004 compared to 3.74 percent in October 2003.

  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 37 days in October 2004, compared with 26.2 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.

Regional MLS sales and price information is contained in the tables that accompany this press release. Regional sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales. The MLS median price and sales data for detached homes are generated from a survey of more than 90 local Realtor associations throughout the state. MLS median price and sales data for condominiums are based on a survey of more than 60 associations. The median price for both detached homes and condominiums represents closed escrow sales.

In a separate report covering more localized statistics generated by the association and DataQuick Information Systems, 99.3 percent or 417 of 420 cities and communities showed an increase in their respective median home prices from a year ago. DataQuick statistics are based on county records data rather than MLS information. DataQuick Information Systems is a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates.

Large changes in local median home prices typically indicate both local home price appreciation, and often, large shifts in the composition of housing market activity. Some of the variations in median home prices may be exaggerated due to compositional changes in housing demand. The DataQuick tables listing median home prices in California cities and counties are accessible through the state association. Localized data collected by the state association and DataQuick are available online.

The top-10 lists are generated for incorporated cities with a minimum of 30 recorded sales in the month:

  • Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during October 2004 were: Laguna Beach, $1,400,000; Los Altos, $1,399,000; Newport Beach, $1,278,250; Burlingame, $1,180,000; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,170,000; Beverly Hills, $1,155,000; Calabasas, $1,137,000; Coronado, $1,125,000; Saratoga, $1,108,000; Mill Valley, $905,000.

  • Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the greatest median home price increases in October 2004 compared with the same period a year ago were: Victorville, 54.6 percent; Redlands, 54.6 percent; Hesperia, 53.3 percent; Barstow, 53.3 percent; West Sacramento, 53.3 percent; Calabasas, 51.7 percent; Adelanto, 51.2 percent; California City, 50 percent; Newport Beach, 48.6 percent; Desert Hot Springs, 47.2 percent.

  • Regionally, Santa Barbara County median prices rose 53.4 percent, to $609,850, from October 2003 to October 2004. Median prices were up 41.9 percent, to $239,400, in the High Desert area; and up 37.4 percent, to $432,000, in the North Santa Barbara County area, during that period.

  • The lowest regional gains in median price from October 2003 to October 2004 were reported in the Santa Clara area, which was up 13 percent to $636,000; the San Francisco Bay Area, which was up 15.1 percent to $652,350; and the Orange County area, which was up 19.6 percent, to $622,090.

  • The most dramatic drop in median price from September 2004 to October 2004 was reported in the Santa Barbara County area, down 19.4 percent, while the biggest gain in median price from September-October 2004 was reported in the Santa Barbara South Coast area, at 11 percent.

  • The biggest drops in sales from September 2004 to October 2004 were reported in the Los Angeles area, down 16.5 percent; the Santa Barbara South Coast, down 16.1 percent; Sacramento, down 15.8 percent; and San Luis Obispo, down 12.8 percent.

The California Association of Realtors, headquartered in Los Angeles, has about 150,000 members.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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