The median price of an existing California home in September increased 17.3 percent from a year ago, while sales grew 3.9 percent, the California Association of Realtors reported today.

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California was $543,980, a 17.3 percent increase over the revised $463,630 median for September 2004, C.A.R. reported. The September 2005 median price decreased 4.4 percent compared with August’s revised $568,730 median price.

“The September median home price compared with August has fallen every year since 1993, and in 20 of the last 26 years,” said C.A.R. President Jim Hamilton. “This year is no exception and is part of the seasonal shift to an off-peak period in the real estate market as we approach year’s end.

“Despite the seasonal slowdown for the market as a whole, the median price in the High Desert, Riverside/San Bernardino, Santa Barbara South Coast and San Luis Obispo regions hit record highs last month,” he said.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 650,780 in September at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by C.A.R. Statewide home resale activity increased 3.9 percent from the 626,210 sales pace recorded in September 2004.

The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2005 would be if sales maintained the September pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

“Year-to-date sales are on track with our expectation that the market in 2005 will set new records for both statewide sales and median price,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “Entry-level and mid-range homes are showing more strength in year-over-year price gains compared with the high end of the market. But all tiers of the market are appreciating more slowly than they did a year ago.”

The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 32 days in September 2005, compared with 29 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.

Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during September 2005 were: Palos Verdes Estate, $1,600,000; Manhattan Beach, $1,578,000; Burlingame, $1,419,000; Los Altos, $1,410,500; Newport Beach, $1,399,000; Coronado, $1,350,000; Saratoga, $1,314,000; Calabasas, $1,218,000; Carmel, $1,200,000; Hermosa Beach, $1,200,000.

Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the greatest median home price increases in September 2005 compared with the same period a year ago were: Reedley, 89 percent; Twentynine Palms, 81 percent; Sanger, 79 percent; Laguna Hills, 60 percent; Barstow, 57 percent; Upland, 53 percent; Adelanto, 52 percent; Ripon, 52 percent; Merced, 50 percent; and Taft, 48 percent.

Los Angeles-based C.A.R. is a state trade organization with more than 180,000 members.

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