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California March Home Sales down 2.4% from March 2010

Source: DataQuick

An estimated 36,417 new and resale houses and condos were sold statewide last month. That was up 33.3 percent from 27,320 in February, and down 2.4 percent from 37,295 for March 2010. California sales for the month of March have varied from a low of 24,565 in 2008 to a high of 68,848 in 2005, while the average is 44,150. DataQuick's statistics go back to 1988.

The median price paid for a home last month was $249,000, up 2.0 percent from $244,000 in February, and down 2.4 percent from $255,000 for March a year ago. The year-over-year decrease was the sixth in a row after 11 months of increases. The bottom of the current cycle was $221,000 in April 2009, while the peak was at $484,000 in early 2007.

Distressed property sales made up about 57 percent of California’s resale market last month.

Of the existing homes sold last month, 39.3 percent were properties that had been foreclosed on during the past year. That was down from 40.1 percent in February and down from 40.3 percent in March a year ago. The all-time high was in February 2009 at 58.5 percent.

Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – made up an estimated 17.6 percent of resales last month. That was down from an estimated 18.8 percent in February but the same as a year earlier and up from 11.4 percent two years ago.

The typical mortgage payment that home buyers committed themselves to paying last month was $1,050. That was up from $1,042 in February, and down from $1,091 in March 2010. Adjusted for inflation, last month's mortgage payment was 52.2 percent below the spring 1989 peak of the prior real estate cycle. It was 61.2 percent below the current cycle's peak in June 2006.

San Diego-based DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity has declined somewhat but remains high by historical standards. Financing with multiple mortgages is low, down payment sizes are stable, and cash and non-owner-occupied buying remains at relatively high levels, DataQuick reported.

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