California home sales kick off year higher in January, marking best start in three years

California existing home sales posted their best January performance in three years as year-over-year sales recovered from delayed escrow closings late last year caused by new loan disclosure rules, according to the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R).


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·       Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 383,670 units in January.



·       The January figure was down 5.4 percent from the revised 405,760 level in December and up 8.8 percent compared with home sales in January 2015 of a revised 352,640. The January 2016 sales level was the highest since January 2013, when an annualized 421,780 homes were sold.


·       The median price of an existing, single-family detached California home fell 4.3 percent in January to $468,330 from $489,310 in December. January’s median price was 9.2 percent higher than the revised $428,980 recorded in January 2015.



·       C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young commented, “The fundamentals underlying the demand for housing fueled a healthy start to 2016. The volatility in the equity market in the last few weeks, coupled with increasing uncertainty about the impact on economic growth, however, may lead potential home buyers and sellers to take a ‘wait and see’ approach, which could erode housing market activity in the upcoming months.”



·       The number of active listings increased for the first time in five months, increasing 3.1 percent from December on a statewide basis. At the regional level, total active listings increased from the previous month in Southern California (5.3 percent), and the San Francisco Bay Area (8 percent), but declined slightly in the Central Valley (1.6 percent).



·       Year-over-year sales increased in the state’s major regions, including Southern California (6.5 percent), San Francisco Bay Area (6.8 percent), and with the Central Valley posting the largest annual gain of 11.8 percent.



·       C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index rose to 4.3 months in January from 2.8 months in December, primarily due to slower sales and an increase in active listings. The index stood at 4.9 months in January 2015.