The California Association of Realtors® has released its report for March.

Home sales decreased 24.5 percent compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home fell 29 percent.

“Sales continue to be impacted by problems in the real estate finance sector, which by some measures have eroded since the start of the year,” said C.A.R. President William E. Brown. “Sales in 2007 reached their peak last February; going forward, the year-to-year declines in sales should shrink.”

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during March 2008 was $413,980, a 29 percent decrease from the revised $582,930 median for March 2007, C.A.R. reported. The March 2008 median price fell 1.3 percent compared with February’s revised $419,640 median price.

“Both tighter underwriting standards and the ongoing effects of the credit/liquidity crunch continue to constrain sales,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “Historically, mortgage rates on jumbo loans are 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent higher than those on conforming loans, but the spreads in recent weeks have been as large as 2 percentage points, reflecting an increase in the perceived risk associated with these loans.

“The lack of available funds for loans, even for qualified buyers, continues to keep the demand side of the market thin, and enables buyers with financing (or all cash) to exert leverage over sellers,” she said.

Highlights of C.A.R.’s resale housing figures for March 2008:

C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in March 2008 was 11.6 months, compared with 7.6 months for the same period a year ago. The index indicates the number of months needed to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.

Thirty-year fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 5.97 percent during March 2008, compared with 6.16 percent in March 2007, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 5.12 percent in March 2008, compared with 5.44 percent in March 2007.

The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 56.7 days in March 2008, compared with 52.9 for the same period a year ago.

Declines From Peak

click on chart for sharper image

The above chart is from “TC” who has been monitoring C.A.R. data. DQNews data contains resale single family residences and new homes. C.A.R. data contains resale single family residences and new homes.

Median price analysis has its flaws, and by tracking each county in terms of declines from peak, further bias was introduced. Nonetheless the table gives one measure of what is happening.

Case-Shiller data comes out next week, and it is based on repeat sales, arguably a much better way of looking at things vs median prices. We will take another look when the data comes out.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Click Here
To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List