The sales rate of previously owned single-family homes fell 38.9 percent in September compared to the same month last year, while the median price declined 4.7 percent and the months’ supply bloated to 16.6 months, the California Association of Realtors reported today.

Colleen Badagliacco, association president, said in a statement that the year-over-year drop in median price — the first in more than 10 years — “was mainly the result of the credit or liquidity crunch, which also drove sales below the 300,000 mark.”

She also stated that California relies more heavily on jumbo loans, which are loans above a federally established conforming loan limit of $417,000, than many other states because home prices in the state typically exceed that amount.

“This speaks to the need to raise the conforming loan limit in higher-cost states like California to more accurately reflect the cost of housing,” she stated.

The national sales rate of single-family resale homes hit its lowest level in about 10 years in September, the National Association of Realtors reported this week, and fell 19.8 percent compared to September 2006. Also, the median U.S. single-family resale home price dropped 4.9 percent year-over-year in September, NAR reported.

Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for the California Association of Realtors, said in a statement, “While the entry-level portion of the market has been adversely affected by the subprime situation and tighter underwriting standards for much of this year, the high end of the market also saw a decline in sales, as even well-qualified buyers were affected by the lack of funds available for jumbo loans.”

Sales of previously owned single-family detached homes in the state reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 271,590 in September, the association reported, compared with a rate of 444,780 sales in September 2006.

This rate is a projection of a monthly total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in sales activity.

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California was $530,830 in September, compared with $557,150 for that month last year.

The Unsold Inventory Index, a measure of the months needed to deplete the supply of for-sale homes based on the sales rate for a given month, skyrocketed from 6.4 months in September 2006 to 16.6 months in September 2007. A supply of six months is generally considered to indicate a buyer’s market.

Thirty-year fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 6.38 percent in September, compared with 6.4 percent in September 2006, according to Freddie Mac, while adjustable mortgage interest rates averaged 5.66 percent in September compared with 5.56 percent for that month in 2006.

The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 57.2 days in September, compared with 54 days for the same period a year ago, the California association reported.

Association statistics on single-family home sales and prices are based on a survey of about 90 Realtor associations throughout the state, and condo data is based on a survey of about 60 associations.

A separate report, based on local statistics gathered by the statewide association and real estate research company DataQuick Information Systems, found that 83.7 percent — or 239 of 289 cities and communities — had falling or level median home prices in September compared to the same month last year.

That report tracks all types of home sales, including sales of new and resale single-family homes and condos.

The 10 California cities and communities tracked in the report with the lowest median home prices in September include: Barstow, $163,000; North Highlands, $178,500; Ridgecrest, $180,000; Joshua Tree, $182,500; Yucca Valley, $200,000; Porterville, $202,500; Tulare, $224,000; Madera, $236,250; Crestline, $240,000; and Tehachapi, $243,750.

The 10 cities and communities tracked in the report with the highest median home prices in September include: Newport Beach, $1.44 million; Los Gatos, $1.23 million; Cupertino, $1.05 million; Danville, $1 million; Redondo Beach, $847,500; San Clemente, $830,000; Yorba Linda, $825,000; Arcadia, $805,000; San Rafael, $797,500; and Santa Monica, $796,500.

The 10 cities and communities with the largest decline in median home prices from September 2006 to September 2007 include: North Highlands, down 33.9 percent; Oakdale, down 33.8 percent; Arroyo Grande, down 29.8 percent; Patterson, down 29 percent; Los Banos, down 28 percent; Merced, down 27.8 percent; Spring Valley, down 26.5 percent; Elk Grove, down 25.6 percent; Ceres, down 25 percent; and Santa Ana, down 24.7 percent.

The 10 cities and communities with the greatest median home price increases in September compared with the same period a year ago were: Tustin, up 19.7 percent; Los Angeles, 18.2 percent; Arcadia, 14.2 percent; Carlsbad, 11.1 percent; Laguna Niguel, 10.1 percent; Diamond Bar, 8.7 percent; Cupertino, 8.4 percent; Redondo Beach, 8 percent; Reedley, 7.1 percent; and Newport Beach, up 6.3 percent.

Merced, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, El Dorado, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties had median-price declines above 15 percent in September compared to September 2006, according to the report.

Santa Clara County had the highest year-over-year median-price gain in September, at 3.4 percent. Other counties tracked by the report with price gains include Marin, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Contra Costa counties.

Calif. Regions

Median Price

Percent Change in Price from Prior Year

Percent Change in Sales from Prior Year









Calif. (single-family)




Calif. (condo)








Central Valley




High Desert




Los Angeles




Monterey Region




Monterey County




Santa Cruz County




Northern California




Northern Wine Country




Orange County




Palm Springs/Lower Desert




Riverside/San Bernardino








San Diego




San Francisco Bay




San Luis Obispo




Santa Barbara County




Santa Barbara South Coast




North Santa Barbara County




Santa Clara








Source: California Association of Realtors, based on data for single-family resale homes.

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