More Signs of Housing Recovery

This post was written by jd on June 1, 2009
Posted Under: Real Estate


While there may be another storm of foreclosures on the horizon, at least for now there are some signs of recovery for our housing market. California is the bell weather of the economy for the nation. Any sign that the housing market in California is recovering is a sign that the economy is recovering.

It’s the first back-to-back increase in the state’s housing prices in two years, following an increase in the median price of homes in March from February. The median price of $256,700 for single-family homes in April is up from a median price of $253,040 in March, according to estimates by the California Association of Realtors. (In Nevada County for the month of May the median has ranged from $295,000 to $280,000)

Overall the housing values in California increased 1.4% statewide.

The April prices were still off 36.5% from the same month a year ago, but the sales of 540,360 homes on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis represented a 49.2% rise over the same time, the Realtors group reported Thursday.

April also marked the eighth consecutive month of single-family-home sales above 500,000 units. The inventory of unsold homes continued to shrink, to 4.6 months’ supply from 9.8 months a year ago. “It appears that the median price is now at or near the bottom,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for the Realtors’ association, who has previously made more subdued comments.
“At best, some markets have at least temporarily leveled off in price,” said Andrew LePage, analyst at MDA Dataquick Information Services, a market-research firm in La Jolla, Calif. “I don’t see any markets that have clearly bottomed out.”

In general, the best-performing markets across the state in terms of sales volume were in lower-priced, inland areas that had seen some of the steepest declines in prices. Sales in the high-desert region outside Los Angeles, for example, more than doubled in April from the same month a year ago, after price declines of 49.5% over the same time. Median prices, even month to month, continued to fall there amid a glut of foreclosures.

But in several more densely populated areas, the median price was stronger. Los Angeles County’s median rose 1.9% in April from March, after falling 31% over the past year. In Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara County, the median price rose 3.6% after a year-over-year fall of 38.2%, the Realtor’s group said. Boosting sales are some of the best affordability rates in almost a decade, say economists.
Realtors’ officials said sales remain weaker for more-expensive homes. Inventories of unsold homes in the under-$500,000 segment, for example, shrank to nearly three months’ supply in April from about 10 months a year ago. But the inventory of homes priced at more than $1 million rose to about 17 months from 10 months a year earlier.

The problem for the higher end of the market is that lending has tightened greatly for the jumbo mortgages that are often needed to buy a home costing more than $500,000, say economists. Some lenders now require down payments of as much as 30% to 40%. As a result, sales have remained anemic in pricey markets like San Francisco

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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