January 22, 2010 14:00 ET

C.A.R. Reports December Home Sales Increased 1.7 Percent; Median Home Price Increased 8.4 Percent

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - January 22, 2010) - Home sales increased 1.7 percent in December in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home rose 8.4 percent, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported today.

"As expected, the large year-to-year sales gains have diminished substantially compared with earlier in the year," said C.A.R. President Steve Goddard. "However, home sales in December were strong, and were comparable to sales of late 2008. Activity in December can be attributed in part to the extension and expansion of the home buyer tax credit, as well as near-historic highs in affordability due to current price levels and low interest rates.

"For the second consecutive month, California's median home price rose year-to-year in December, and had the largest year-to-year increase in more than three years," said Goddard. "The state's median price also remained above $300,000 for the second straight month."

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 558,320 in December at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations statewide. Statewide home resale activity increased 1.7 percent from the revised 549,190 sales pace recorded in December 2008. Sales in December 2009 increased 4 percent compared with the previous month.

The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2009 would be if sales maintained the December pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during December 2009 was $306,820, an 8.4 percent increase from the revised $283,060 median for December 2008, C.A.R. reported. The December 2009 median price rose 0.8 percent compared with November's $304,520 median price.

"Home sales were unusually strong in December and were more consistent with peak season trends," said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. "Historically, the median price declines November through February and then rises in March. However, lean inventory, historically low interest rates, and incentives for home buyers have resulted in California's housing market experiencing non-seasonal variations.

"Looking forward, we expect the state's median home price to fluctuate around the $300,000 level throughout the first quarter," said Appleton-Young. "While we expect to experience price gains in the near term, it remains to be seen how the market will fare once the Federal Reserve discontinues its purchase of mortgage-backed securities."

Highlights of C.A.R.'s resale housing figures for December 2009:

-- C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached
homes in December 2009 was 3.8 months, compared with 5.6 months (revised)
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

-- Thirty-year fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.93 percent during
December 2009, compared with 5.29 percent in December 2008, according to
Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.31 percent in
December 2009, compared with 4.97 percent in December 2008.

-- The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 35.3
days in December 2009, compared with 46.3 days (revised) for the same
period a year ago.

Regional MLS sales and price information are contained in the tables that accompany this press release. Regional sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales. The MLS median price and sales data for detached homes are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® throughout the state. MLS median price and sales data for condominiums are based on a survey of more than 60 associations. The median price for both detached homes and condominiums represents closed escrow sales.

In a separate report covering more localized statistics generated by C.A.R. and DataQuick Information Systems, 146 of the 383 cities and communities reporting showed an increase in their respective median home prices from a year ago. DataQuick statistics are based on county records data rather than MLS information. DataQuick Information Systems is a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. (The lists are generated for incorporated cities with a minimum of 30 recorded sales in the month.)

Note: Large changes in local median home prices typically indicate both local home price appreciation, and often, large shifts in the composition of housing market activity. Some of the variations in median home prices for December may be exaggerated due to compositional changes in housing demand. The DataQuick tables listing median home prices in California cities and counties are accessible through C.A.R. Online at

-- Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in
California during December 2009 were: Beverly Hills, $1,400,000;
Los Altos, $1,340,000; Laguna Beach, $1,230,000; Manhattan Beach,
$1,165,000; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,160,000; Palo Alto, $1,066,000;
Los Gatos, $994,500; Newport Beach, $938,500; Rancho Palos Verdes,
$900,000; and Santa Monica, $852,500.

-- Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases
in December 2009 compared with the same period a year ago were:  Laguna
Hills, 62.9 percent; San Juan Capistrano, 37.2 percent; Fairfield, 30.9
percent; Tustin, 27.1 percent; El Cajon, 26.7 percent; Thousand Oaks,
19.5 percent; Escondido, 18.4 percent; Costa Mesa, 17.3 percent; San Pablo,
16.6 percent; and Encinitas, 16.3 percent.

For sales and price tables, please visit

Leading the way...® in California real estate for more than 100 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® ( is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States, with more than 163,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.


-- Click here to view Unsold Inventory by price point.

-- Click here to view a data table comparing peak prices and current prices in areas throughout the state.

Quick Facts:

-- Existing, single-family home sales increased 4 percent in December to
   a seasonally adjusted rate of 558,320 units on an annualized basis.
-- The statewide median price of an existing single-family home increased
   0.8 percent in December to $306,820, compared with November 2009.
-- C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index fell to 3.8 months in December, compared
   with 5.6 months in December 2008.

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