The for-sale inventory of homes has dropped by more than half from May 2008 to May 2009, according to the latest California Association of Realtors report on May home sales and prices.

The association’s Unsold Inventory Index for May, which measures how long it would take to sell all for-sale single-family resale homes given that month’s sales pace, suggested that the market had reversed from a buyer’s market in May 2008 to a seller’s market in May 2009.

The index was 4.2 months in May, compared with 8.7 months in May. A for-sale inventory of six months is considered to roughly represent a supply-demand equilibrium. In contrast, the National Association of Realtors reported a 9.6-month supply of for-sale U.S. resale homes in May.

The CAR report noted that the median price of existing single-family homes in California declined by 30.4 percent year-over-year in May, while sales rose 35.2 percent.

The group reported an increase in the median price of single-family resale homes by 4.2 percent from April 2009 to May 2009, with sales of resale homes up 2.9 percent.

Regionally, the Poway, Calif., market had the largest gain (29.7 percent) in median price for new and resale single-family homes and condos year-over-year in May among all cities, counties and communities tracked, followed by Auburn (8.3 percent), Arcadia (7.5 percent), and Atascadero (6.3 percent.)

California City witnessed the largest decline (-57.4 percent) in median price year-over-year in May, followed by Bloomington (-57.3 percent) and Lancaster (-52.4 percent).

A separate set of regional data for single-family resale homes found that sales surged 96.2 percent year-over-year in May in the High Desert region, followed by the Monterey County region (94.4 percent), and the San Diego (89.1 percent) region.

The Santa Barbara South Coast region experienced a 25 percent year-over-year drop in single-family resale home sales in May, followed by the Santa Barbara County region (-9.9 percent) and Northern California (1.4 percent). …CONTINUED

According to a report by real estate data company MDA DataQuick, Southern California home sales rose for the 11th consecutive month in May as median price paid increased slightly from the prior month for the first time since July 2007.

The total of new and resale houses and condos sold in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties was up 1.3 percent compared to April 2009 and 22.8 percent from a year ago.

The report also said that 83 percent of the previously owned Southland houses sold were purchased for less than $500,000, compared with 84.8 percent in April. Sales of $500,000 or above increased 15.2 percent in April to 17 percent in May, DataQuick also reported.

The last time the $500,000-plus market crossed the 17 percent mark was in October 2008, with 19.9 percent of sales.

There has been no month-to-month increase in the median price since July 2007, when it increased 0.6 percent from $502,000 to $505,000, according to the report.

The median price of new and resale homes and condos in Southern California hit the second-lowest level in May since February 2002, when it stood at $242,000, and it stood 50.7 percent below the $505,000 median reached in spring and summer 2007.

The San Bernardino market had the largest gain (51 percent) in sales year-over-year in May, followed by Riverside (28.2 percent) and Los Angeles (19.8 percent). San Bernardino also experienced a decline in median prices (-45.3 percent), followed by Riverside (-37.9 percent).

–Riya V. Anandwala

***

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