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California’s median home price posts highest level in five years as intense competition increases, A.A.R. reports

Strong sales in higher-cost coastal regions and heated market conditions drove California’s median home price to its highest level in March since May 2008, while inventory shortages continued to stifle home sales, the Arcadia Association of Realtors® reported.
“While home sales were essentially flat from February, sales declined moderately from last year, as an extreme shortage of available homes continued to dictate the market,” said 2013 A.A.R. President Andy Bencosme. “Statewide inventory dropped 36 percent from last March and was below 3 months for the second time in the past few months. Supply conditions are particularly tight in the lower-priced segment of the market, as inventory for homes priced below $300k plunged more than 50 percent from the previous year.”
Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a revised seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 417,520, according to information collected by the California Association of Realtors from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. March closings were up a slight 0.1 percent from a revised 417,310 in February but down 4.9 percent from a revised 439,260 in March 2012. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2013 if sales maintained the March pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.
The statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home climbed 13.7 percent from February’s $333,380 median price to $378,960 in March, reversing a two-month decline. The month-to-month increase was the highest since C.A.R. began tracking this statistic in 1979. The March price was up 28.2 percent from a revised $295,630 recorded in March 2012, marking the 13th consecutive month of annual price increases and the ninth consecutive month of double-digit annual gains.
“No doubt the dearth of home listings is driving the upsurge in the median price, as is an increase in sales in the higher-priced segments,” said A.A.R. Executive Vice President Andrew Cooper. “Sales of homes priced $500,000 and higher are up more than 34 percent from last year, and have been on a rising trend since early 2012”
Other key facts of the March 2013 resale housing report include:
The available supply of homes for sale fell significantly in March, falling to a 2.9-month supply, as measured by C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index. The March Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes was down from 3.6 months in February and down from 4.2 months in March 2012. The index indicates the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate. A six- to seven-month supply is considered normal.
Mortgage rates edged up in March, with the 30-year fixed-mortgage interest rate averaging 3.57 percent, up from 3.53 percent in February but down from 3.95 percent in March 2012, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates also edged up, averaging 2.63 percent in March, up from 2.61 percent in February but down from 2.77 percent March 2012.
Homes continued to move off the market faster in March, with the median number of days it took to sell a single-family home decreasing to 29.4 days in March, down from 34.2 days in February and down from a revised 52.2 days for the same period a year ago.

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