Home sellers’ concerns about rising interest rates helped drive the residential real estate market to new heights in California in 2004, with the Boomer Generation dominating the market, accounting for 74 percent of all home sales, according to the California Association of Realtors’ “Survey of California Sellers,” released Thursday.

“Because of its size and current life-cycle, the Boomer Generation is likely to play a significant role in the housing market over the next several years,” said C.A.R. President Jim Hamilton. “Trading up and the purchase of second homes will continue to put pressure on the housing market.

“While most home sellers indicated that they sold because they wanted a larger home or different location, pricing and financing clearly entered the picture,” he said.

According to the report, a typical California home seller was married, 47 years old, earned nearly $135,000 annually, and had sold a home at least once before. Just over half of all sellers in 2004 fell between the ages of 45 and 54 years, while another one-third fell between 35 and 44 years of age.

Most sellers remained within their original county of residence after selling their home, with 94 percent of sellers in Southern California remaining within the original county, compared with 99 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area and 88 percent in the rest of the state. Five percent of all home sellers moved out of state in 2004.

Following the general trend in the population toward greater utilization of the Internet, sellers also increased their use of the Web as a part of the home-selling process. The percentage of sellers who used the Internet as a significant part of the home-selling process nearly quadrupled from 12 percent in 2003 to 47 percent in 2004. This development was much more dramatic than with buyers, whose reported use of the Internet rose from 45 percent in 2003 to 56 percent in 2004.

“While use of the Internet was up, 59 percent of home sellers said that the information they received from the Internet was less useful than the information they received from their Realtor, compared with just 7 percent who said that the Internet provided information that was just as useful as that provided by their Realtor,” Hamilton said.

There was a shift in the mix of homes sold from 2003 to 2004, with those selling a detached single-family home declining from 90 percent a year ago to 76 percent in 2004; those selling a condo or townhouse increased from 10 percent in 2003 to 24 percent this year.

Additional highlights of the “Survey of California Sellers” report include:

  • Twenty-nine percent of sellers said they had sold their home because of investment or tax advantages;

  • Twenty-four percent of sellers moved because of a change in family status;

  • Low interest rates were cited as important by about 40 percent of sellers because it enabled them to either acquire a larger home or move to a preferred neighborhood;

  • Just over one-quarter of all respondents were motivated to sell because they expected mortgage rates to increase in the future;

  • Fifteen percent cited price appreciation and “cashing out” of the market as a reason for selling;

  • Eighty percent of all sellers had previously sold a home;

  • Twenty percent reported that this was their first home sale;

  • Sixty-one percent of all sellers were married compared with 39 percent who were single;

  • While just over two in three repeat sellers were married, only one in three first-time sellers was married;

  • Ninety-one percent reported that they used the Internet to research comparable prices.

Los Angeles-based C.A.R. is a state trade organization with more than 155,000 members.


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