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Existing California Home Sales in September Up 1.7% from September 2016

- Existing, single-family home sales totaled 436,920 in September on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, up 2.2 percent from August and 1.7 percent from September 2016.

- September’s statewide median home price was $555,410, down 1.8 percent from August and up 7.5 percent from September 2016.

- Statewide active listings continued to decline in September, dropping 11.2 percent from a year ago.

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 18) – California’s housing market eased into the fall homebuying season as seasonally adjusted sales rose both month-to-month and year-to-year in September, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California remained above the 400,000 benchmark for the past 18 months and totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 436,920 units in September, 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 September pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The September sales figure was up 2.2 percent from the 427,630 level in August and up 1.7 percent compared with home sales in September 2016 of a revised 429,760. While year-to-date sales are running 2.6 percent ahead of last year’s pace, that margin has been eroding since the first quarter.

“While it’s encouraging that statewide home sales improved both monthly and annually, the year-over-year sales rate is losing steam, reflecting the persistent shortage of homes for sale and an easing of concern over a surge in mortgage rates,” said C.A.R. President Geoff McIntosh. “Additionally, for the areas that have been affected by the recent wildfires, we anticipate sales will pull back in those regions as damages are assessed and replacement efforts are coordinated."

After reaching its highest level in a decade in August, the statewide median price slipped in September but remained above the $500,000 mark for the seventh straight month. The $565,330 August median price dropped 1.8 percent to $555,410 in September but climbed 7.5 percent from the revised $516,450 recorded in September 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 statewide median price rose at the fastest annual pace since February 2017 as the housing supply shortage continued to dictate the market, taking a toll on home sales and affordability,” said C.A.R. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie-Appleton-Young. “The tight inventory situation is particularly acute in the Bay Area region, which saw double-digit price increases in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Santa Clara counties, while sales fell markedly from the previous year in six of the nine Bay Area counties.”

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

• All of the major regions experienced month-to-month and annual sales declines, with sales in the San Francisco Bay Area declining 4.2 percent from a year ago, the Inland Empire falling 4.0 percent, and the Los Angeles metro region decreasing 2.5 percent from September 2016.

• In general, home prices across the state continued to grow in September. Forty-one of the 51 reported counties recorded a year-over-year price increase, with 20 of them growing at double-digit rates.

• Statewide active listings continued to decline in September, dropping 11.2 percent from a year ago. Since the beginning of the year, active listings have declined by more than 10 percent every month, and the number of available listings for sale has trended downward for more than two years.

• With strong sales growth and little new inventory to replenish the housing supply, C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index fell from 3.5 months in September 2016 to 3.2 months in September 2017. The index measures the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate. The index stood at 2.9 months in August.

• Thirty-six of 51 counties experienced a decline in housing inventory from last year. While every single county in the Southern California region had a reduction in the unsold inventory index from the previous year in September, the Bay Area remained the region with the tightest housing supply. Six of the nine Bay Area counties had less than three months of inventory in September, and of the six, two had less than a two months’ supply.

• The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home in September was 20 days compared with 18 days in August and 28 days in September 2016.

• C.A.R.’s sales price-to-list price ratio* was 99.1 percent statewide in September, 99.5 percent in August, and 98.6 percent in September 2016. At the county level, San Francisco had the highest ratio at 116.6 percent and Mariposa had the lowest at 92.5 percent.

• The average price per square foot** for an existing, single-family home statewide was $270 in September, $268 in August, and $254 in September 2016.

• San Mateo had the highest price per square foot in September at $883/sq. ft., followed by San Francisco ($875/sq. ft.), and Santa Clara ($687/sq. ft.). Counties with the lowest price per square foot in September included Lassen ($118/sq. ft.), Kings ($132/sq. ft.), and Kern ($136/sq. ft.).

• Mortgage rates declined further in September as 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 3.81 percent in September, down from 3.88 percent in August but was up from 3.46 percent in September 2016, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable-rate mortgage interest rate edged up in September to an average of 3.16 percent from 3.15 percent in August but was up from 2.74 percent in September 2016.

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