Sales of resale single-family homes in California more than doubled in the past year — rising 117 percent in October 2008 compared to the same month last year — the statewide Realtors trade group reported today, while the statewide median price plummeted about 40 percent.

Sales of resale single-family homes in California more than doubled in the past year — rising 117 percent in October 2008 compared to the same month last year — the statewide Realtors trade group reported today, while the statewide median price plummeted about 40 percent.

The sales surge was largely a product of "extremely large increases" in sales in areas with a "high concentration of distressed sales," said James Liptak, California Association of Realtors president, such as short sales, sales of bank-owned properties, and sales of properties in a foreclosure process.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of statewide sales reached 552,750 in October — up from a pace of 254,650 sales in October 2007. This sales rate is a projection of a monthly sales total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for typical seasonal fluctuations in sales.

"Most October sales likely opened escrow prior to the beginning of the ongoing freeze in the financial markets. We won’t have a clear picture of the full impact of the fallout until November and December sales are reported," Liptak stated.

The median price of resale single-family detached homes in the state, meanwhile, dropped from $517,240 in October 2007 to $311,060 in October 2008, the group reported.

Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for the Realtor group, said in a statement that while the year-over-year price drop was lower in October than the September drop, "there is still no conclusive indication that prices have begun to stabilize."

The National Association of Realtors on Monday reported (see Inman News) that the U.S. median home price plunged 11.3 percent year-over-year in October, which was the largest drop since the association began tracking the statistic in 1968. The group also reported that sales of resale homes dropped 1.6 percent year-over-year in October.

Also, a Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller report released today (see Inman News) found that resale single-family home prices have fallen an estimated 16.6 percent from third-quarter 2007 to third-quarter 2008 — a separate 20-metro-area index revealed that prices have fallen about 17.4 percent year-over-year in September.

The California Realtor Association’s Unsold Inventory Index, which estimates the number of months it would take to deplete the supply of for-sale homes at the latest monthly sales rate, was 5.9 months in October, compared with 15.2 months in October 2007.

And it took a median 45 days to sell a single-family resale home in October 2008, compared with 58.8 days in October 2007.

A separate report generated by the state Realtor group and real estate research company DataQuick Information Systems found that median home prices increased in only six of 378 cities and communities tracked in the state. That report uses data for all types of home sales, including sales of new and resale single-family homes and condos.

Cities and communities in the state experiencing median home-price increases include: Mountain View, up 18.6 percent; Alhambra, up 13.4 percent; Sherman Oaks, up 12.5 percent; Ridgecrest, up 6.2 percent; Berkeley, up 5.9 percent; and Beach Cities, up 2.1 percent.

Cities and communities in the state with the largest year-over-year median-price drops (see Inman News graphic)in October include: Bloomington, down 69.4 percent (from $490,000 to $150,000); San Juan Capistrano, down 65.1 percent; California City, down 63.6 percent; Richmond, down 60.9 percent; Tarzana, down 58.4 percent; Oakland, down 55.4 percent; Soledad, down 54 percent; San Bernardino, down 53.8 percent; Los Banos, down 53.3 percent; and Adelanto, down 53 percent.

Newport Beach had the highest median home price among California cities and communities in October, at $1.15 million. Danville was second, at $883,250; followed by Mountain View, $860,000; Santa Barbara, $835,000; Los Gatos, $810,000; Cupertino, $804,500; Santa Monica, $744,500; San Mateo, $740,000; Redondo Beach, $727,500; and San Ramon, $710,500.

California City had the lowest median price in October (see Inman News graphic), at $84,000; followed by Barstow at $95,000; Taft at $112,500; North Highlands at $113,500; Twentynine Palms at $115,000; Desert Hot Springs at $119,500; San Bernardino at $120,000; Yucca Valley at $122,000; Adelanto at $122,250; and Crestline at $122,500, the statewide association and DataQuick reported.

Among California Counties, Stanislaus County had the largest year-over-year median price drop in October at 47 percent. The median price fell 46.4 percent in Contra Costa County; 45.5 percent in Santa Barbara County; 45.4 percent in Merced County; 41.6 percent in San Joaquin County; 41.5 percent in Monterey County; 39.4 percent in San Bernardino County; 38.5 percent in Solano County; 35.7 percent in Alameda County and 34.8 percent in Sacramento County.

El Dorado County had the slightest year-over-year median price drop in October among California counties, at 3.7 percent. Next on the list was San Francisco County, down 11 percent; Nevada County, down 18.5 percent; placer County, down 20 percent; Tulare County, down 20.2 percent; San Luis Obispo County, down 20.9 percent; Yolo and San Mateo counties, down 22.5 percent; San Mateo County, down 22.5 percent; Fresno County, down 25.4 percent; and Napa County, down 25.9 percent.

According to regional MLS data collected by the California Realtor group for single-family detached resale homes, prices declined most in the Monterey County and Santa Barbara County regions in October compared to the same month last year, falling 54 percent. The Northern California region had the slightest median price drop, down 17 percent.

The High Desert region experienced the largest regional sales gain from October 2007 to October 2008, the state Realtor group also reported. The slightest sales gain was reported in the Northern California region, which was up 16.5 percent.

Also today, the California Building Industry Association, a builders’ trade group, reported that housing production in the state hit the lowest level on record in October.

About 4,140 residential building permits were pulled statewide in October, the group reported, down about 49 percent compared to October 2007 — on a seasonally adjusted annual basis the unit total for permits was the lowest since the group began tallying the statistics in 1976.

"California can’t afford another year of economic depression in the housing sector," said Robert Rivinius, the group’s president and CEO, in a statement.

During the first 10 months of the year, builders pulled permits for 55,669 housing units of all types, down 44 percent compared to the same period last year. Single-family permits fell 52 percent during this same period, CBIA reported.

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