State home sales slide

first_imgMore proof that the long-anticipated real estate market chill is gaining traction arrived in November as sales of previously-owned homes fell an annual 11.2 percent in California, while prices continued their run of double digit gains, a trade association said Thursday. But for the first time in 47 months, the median price of a home in two Santa Barbara County markets declined from its prior annual level, according to the California Association of Realtors. For all of Santa Barbara County the median fell 2.8 percent since last year to $650,000, while along the county’s more upscale South Coast the median price declined 7.1 percent to $1.12 million. The median, the midpoint of prices, increased in the 17 other major markets tracked by the Los Angeles-based association. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Association president Vince Malta said that it now appears that the statewide median price for the entire year will increase by the previously anticipated 16 percent from 2004. Price swings are not unusual in Santa Barbara County, but the overall market is showing signs of change. “I definitely think this is more evidence that the peak has passed, and we’re leveling off – and in some markets people are holding onto the edge of their chairs to see if a bubble is going to burst under them,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. But sales could still finish the year in record territory thanks to robust activity in Southern California, which resulted in record prices in Los Angeles County and the High Desert in November. But the Bay Area and Central Valley totals will fall below last year’s levels, said Robert Kleinhenz, deputy chief economist for the association. “We knew we’d see a bit of a decline relative to the 2004 number, but it was steeper than we anticipated,” he said of the sales drop. If the entire year matched November’s sales pace, about 579,560 properties would have change hands. That’s the first under-600,000-unit sales pace since the end of last year, he said. Rising interest rates contributed to the sales drop, Kleinhenz said, by pushing some buyers into the market sooner rather than later in the year. The statewide median price of $548,400 was a 1.8 percent rise from October. The forecasted soft landing for the market, with fewer sales and a less robust rate of annual appreciation, is still anticipated, the association said. During November: !bbox! In Los Angeles, the median home price jumped an annual 21.2 percent to $575,310, while sales dipped 4.8 percent. !bbox! In the High Desert, which includes the Antelope Valley, the median price soared 29.2 percent, the biggest gain in the state, to $320,860. Numbers for Ventura County were not available. Inventory, while still tight, improved to a 3.9-month supply versus 2.8 months a year ago. This is how long it would take to deplete the supply at the current sales pace. The interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan averaged 6.33 percent during November, up from 5.73 percent a year ago. Kyser said it will take a while for a trend to set in, but some markets bear watching. “The traditional canary-in-the-mineshaft San Diego has prices moving sideways. It’s going to be interesting to watch this over the next couple of months,” he said. — Gregory J. Wilcox, (818) 713-3743 [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more