California Pending Home Sales Lose Steam for Fourth Straight Month in April, C.A.R. Reports

Los Angeles, CA – May 24, 2017 (PRNewswire-USNewswire) Consistent with the slowdown in April’s closed escrow sales, which declined from the previous month and year, low housing inventory and eroding affordability suppressed pending home sales for the fourth straight month, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.

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C.A.R.’s April Market Pulse Survey** saw mixed results as REALTORS® reported an increase in floor calls for the fourth straight month, but less open house traffic, and no change in listing appointment activity compared with the previous month.

Pending home sales data:

  • Based on signed contracts, year-over-year statewide pending home sales declined for the fourth straight month in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, with the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)* declining 7.4 percent from 122.8 in April 2016 to 113.7 in April 2017. On a monthly basis, California pending home sales increased 5.9 percent from the March index of 107.4.
  • April’s year-over-year pending sales decline is the largest since July 2014, when sales decreased 9.1 percent from the previous year. The quickening pace of pending sales declines provides further evidence that the typically busy spring home buying season may underperform, primarily due to demand outstripping the supply of active listings, which was 10.5 percent lower than in April a year ago.
  • At the regional level, Southern California was the most resilient region in the state, where pending sales held on for a modest decline of 2.8 percent, aided in large part by a 2 percent increase in Riverside County and a 1.1 percent uptick in Orange County. San Diego posted a double-digit decline of 11.1 percent. Los Angeles County saw pending sales decline 4.7 percent, and San Bernardino pending sales fell 4 percent.
  • At the opposite end of the spectrum, the San Francisco Bay Area bore the brunt of the slowdown. On a year over year basis, pending sales in April were 17.1 percent below where they were in April 2016. San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara all posted double-digit declines in pending sales (down 16.1 percent, 12.2 percent, 14.6 percent, respectively) as inventories remained between 1.8 and 2 months of supply with median prices of more than $1 million.
  • The Central Valley also posted a double-digit decline of 11.2 percent in April. Despite the rebounding energy sector and relative affordability, Kern County saw pending sales shrink by 15.5 percent from April 2016. However, Fresno, Kings, Madera, and Merced were already seeing closed sales begin to stumble back in March, and this weak reading on pending sales suggests that the sluggishness of sales will persist in the Central Valley over the near term as well.
  • In C.A.R.’s newest market indicator of future price appreciation, Market Velocity – home sales relative to the number of new listings coming on line each month to replenish that sold inventory – suggests that price growth will begin to accelerate this summer. With demand remaining strong and inventories tightening further, price pressure will get more intense over the next six months and that median price growth may accelerate into the high single digits through the fall. Market Velocity is strongly correlated with increases/decreases in price growth with a roughly three- to six-month lag time.

Year-to-Year Change in Pending Sales by County/Region

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April REALTOR® Market Pulse Survey**:

Entering the spring homebuying season, California REALTORS® responding to C.A.R.’s April Market Pulse Survey said their expectations for market conditions of the next year declined from April as they experienced less open house traffic, fewer multiple offers, more price reductions, and no change in listing appointment activity compared with March.

  • The share of homes selling above asking price dipped from 32 percent a year ago to 31 percent in April, while the share of properties selling below asking price slipped to 38 percent from 40 percent in April 2016. The remaining 31 percent sold at asking price, up from 28 percent in April 2016.
  • For homes that sold above asking price, the premium paid over asking price was essentially unchanged from a year ago, at 10 percent.
  • The 38 percent of homes that sold below asking price sold for an average of 17 percent below asking price in April, compared to 12 percent a year ago.
  • The share of properties receiving multiple offers declined in April after trending higher for three straight months. About two-thirds of properties sold (68 percent) received multiple offers in April, down from 69 percent in April 2016.
  • The share of properties receiving three or more offers in April was 44 percent, compared to 45 percent a year ago.
  • Only homes priced $500,000-$749,000 and $2 million and higher posted gains in receiving three or more offers compared with last year, rising from 53 percent to 61 percent, and 50 percent and 63 percent, respectively.
  • After falling for four consecutive months, listing price reductions rose to 26 percent in April, up from 23 percent in April 2016.
  • A lack of available inventory continued to be the top concern for 48 percent of REALTORS®, the highest level recorded. Eroding housing affordability/high interest rates concerned 19.5 percent of REALTORS®. Inflated home prices/housing bubble was cited by 19.5 percent of REALTORS®. A slowdown in economic growth, lending and financing, and policy and regulations rounded out REALTORS®’ remaining biggest concerns.
  • REALTORS®’ expectations of market conditions over the next year remained high at an index of 64, up from an index of 60 a year ago.

Graphics (click links to open):

*Note: C.A.R.’s pending sales information is generated from a survey of more than 70 associations of REALTORS® and MLSs throughout the state. Pending home sales are forward-looking indicators of future home sales activity, offering solid information on future changes in the direction of the market. A sale is listed as pending after a seller has accepted a sales contract on a property. The majority of pending home sales usually become closed sales transactions one to two months later. The year 2008 was used as the benchmark for the Pending Homes Sales Index. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2008.

**C.A.R.’s Market Pulse Survey is a monthly online survey sent to more than 10,000 California REALTORS® to measure data about their last closed transaction and sentiment about business activity in their market area for the previous month. More than 400 REALTORS® responded.

Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 110 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (www.car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with more than 190,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.

Spring Homebuying Season Kicks Off Strongly As Prices And Sales Propel Higher, C.A.R. Reports

– Existing, single-family home sales totaled 416,580 in March on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, up 4 percent from February and up 6.9 percent from March 2016.

– March’s statewide median home price was $517,020, up 8 percent from February and up 6.8 percent from March 2016.

– At the regional level, the San Francisco Bay Area, Inland Empire, and Los Angeles metro area all experienced healthy annual sales gains of 6.4 percent, 8.5 percent, and 6.7 percent, respectively.

Los Angeles, CA – April 17, 2017 (PRNewswire-USNewswire) California’s spring housing market posted a strong start to the year as existing home sales and median price registered healthy gains in March on both a monthly and annual basis, as did every major region in the state, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.

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Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California remained above the 400,000 benchmark for a full year and totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 416,580 units in March, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2017 if sales maintained the March pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales. The March figure was up 4 percent from the 400,720 level in February and up 6.9 percent compared with home sales in March 2016 of a revised 389,770.

“March’s solid sales performance was likely influenced by the specter of higher interest rates, which may have pushed buyers off the sidelines and close escrow before rates moved higher,” said C.A.R. President Geoff McIntosh. “The strong housing demand, coupled with a shortage of available homes for sale, is pushing prices higher as would-be buyers try to purchase before affordability gets worse.”

Following back-to-back monthly price declines, the median price of an existing, single-family detached California home climbed back above $500,000 in March. The median price was up 8 percent from $478,570 in February to reach $517,020 in March, and was 6.8 percent higher than the $484,120 recorded in March 2016. The median sales price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling, as well as a general change in values.

“The spring homebuying season is off to a good start, as the economic and market fundamentals remain solid for the most part,” said C.A.R. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “However, higher interest rates, a dearth of housing inventory, and slow wage growth will continue to have an adverse effect on housing affordability that is putting upward pressure on home prices, and is sure to hamper the market throughout the year.”

Other key points from C.A.R.’s March 2017 resale housing report include:

  • New statewide active listings continued to decline, falling 12 percent from a year ago, and contributed to a full one-month drop in the unsold inventory index.
  • The substantial decline in new listings combined with March’s robust sales brought down C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index to its lowest level so far this year and the third lowest level in more than three years. The index, which measures the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate, dropped a full month to 3.0 months in March from 4.0 months in February. The index stood at 3.6 months in March 2016.
  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home fell from 33.5 days in February to 26.7 days in March and was down from 29.9 days in March 2016.
  • C.A.R.’s sales-to-list price ratio* was 99.3 percent of listing prices statewide in March, 98.6 percent in February, and 98.9 percent in March 2016.
  • The average price per square foot** for an existing, single-family home statewide was $252 in March, $241 in February, and $232 in March 2016.
  • San Francisco County had the highest price per square foot in March at $872/sq. ft., followed by San Mateo ($838/sq. ft.), and Marin ($688/sq. ft.). Counties with the lowest price per square foot in March included Del Norte ($115/sq. ft.), Lassen ($118/sq. ft.), and Siskiyou ($125/sq. ft.).
  • Mortgage rates have risen since last fall. The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 4.20 percent in March, up from 4.17 percent in February and up from 3.69 percent in March 2016, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable-rate mortgage interest rates dipped in March to an average of 3.21 percent, from 3.20 percent in February and 2.90 percent in March 2016.

Graphics (click links to open):

Note: The County MLS median price and sales data in the tables are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® throughout the state, and represent statistics of existing single-family detached homes only. County sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales. Movements in sales prices should not be interpreted as changes in the cost of a standard home. The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical than average prices, which are skewed by a relatively small share of transactions at either the lower-end or the upper-end. Median prices can be influenced by changes in cost, as well as changes in the characteristics and the size of homes sold. The change in median prices should not be construed as actual price changes in specific homes.

*Sales-to-list price ratio is an indicator that reflects the negotiation power of home buyers and home sellers under current market conditions. The ratio is calculated by dividing the final sales price of a property by its last list price and is expressed as a percentage. A sales-to-list ratio with 100 percent or above suggests that the property sold for more than the list price, and a ratio below 100 percent indicates that the price sold below the asking price.

**Price per square foot is a measure commonly used by real estate agents and brokers to determine how much a square foot of space a buyer will pay for a property. It is calculated as the sale price of the home divided by the number of finished square feet. C.A.R. currently tracks price-per-square foot statistics for 39 counties.

Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 110 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (www.car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with 185,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.

March 2017 County Sales and Price Activity
(Regional and condo sales data not seasonally adjusted)

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r = revised
NA = not available

March 2017 County Unsold Inventory and Time on Market
(Regional and condo sales data not seasonally adjusted)

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r = revised
NA = not available