Existing-home sales and median prices fell from June to July in California, the California Association of Realtors trade group reported today.

Median prices dropped 0.4 percent – from $543,120 in June to $540,900 – but are up 17.1 percent since July 2004, the association announced. Meanwhile, the association reported 647,910 closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in July, down 1.3 percent since June and up 1.3 percent since July 2004.

“July increases in the median price of a home followed the trend we’ve experienced for most of this year,” Jim Hamilton, president of the state trade group, said in a statement. “Mortgage interest rates remain lower than a year ago and the inventory of homes for sale has improved slightly compared to the historic lows of 2004. Both the national and state economies are doing better than a year ago, and household incomes are improving,” he said. “These are all contributing to the continued strength of the housing market in California.”

The association’s statewide sales figure represents July’s monthly sales total projected over a 12-month period and adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in sales activity.

“Year-to-date sales continue to outpace last year’s, but are moderating compared with the levels experienced earlier this year,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, the association’s vice president and chief economist. “This is in line with our expectation that sales in 2005 will be 1.4 percent ahead of last year’s record pace. Historically, June accounts for the largest share of annual sales and there typically is a month-to-month decline in sales from June to July in the regional and county sales figures, which are not seasonally adjusted.”

Some other housing figures included in the association’s report:

  • The association’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in July 2005 was 3.2 months, compared with 2.4 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 5.7 percent during July 2005, compared with 6.06 percent in July 2004, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable mortgage interest rates averaged 4.4 percent in July 2005 compared with 4.11 percent in July 2004.

  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 28 days in July 2005, compared with 24 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.

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 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, 96.6 percent or 403 of 417 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.

  • Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during July 2005 were: Palos Verdes Estates, $1,640,000; Beverly Hills, $1,500,000; Los Altos, $1,480,000; Manhattan Beach, $1,450,000; Burlingame, $1,436,250; Laguna Beach, $1,376,500; Saratoga, $1,373,500; Calabasas, $1,295,000; La Canada-Flintridge, $1,250,000; and Newport Beach, $1,225,000.

  • Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the greatest median home price increases in July 2005 compared with the same period a year ago were: Reedley, 89.4 percent; Palos Verdes Estates, 81.5 percent; Twentynine Palms, 74 percent; Sanger, 66.3 percent; Barstow, 60.9 percent; Desert Hot Springs, 55.5 percent; Rancho Mirage, 53.8 percent; Visalia, 50 percent; West Sacramento, 49.5 percent; and Hesperia, 48.7 percent.

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

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