California Posts Modest Annual Home Sales Gain in April as Median Price Nears (Nominal) Peak

New-Home Sales Have Trended Higher But Remain Well Below Average

By Andrew LePage Housing Affordability, Real Estate

California April home sales rose modestly year over year as the median price paid for a home fell just short of the all-time high reached shortly before the last housing bust. The median climbed to new highs again in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area.

With inventory still tight, an estimated[1] 39,485 new and existing houses and condos sold statewide in April 2018, down 1.0 percent from March 2018 but up 1.4 percent from April 2017, CoreLogic public records data show. The average change in sales between March and April since 2000 is an increase of 0.5 percent. April 2018 sales were the highest for that month since April 2016 (Figure 1), when 41,158 homes sold, and they were 14.8 percent below the average number of homes sold in April since 2000.

California Total April Home Sales

The median price paid for all new and existing houses and condos sold across California in April 2018 was $485,000, up 1.0 percent from $480,000 in March 2018 and up 7.8 percent from $450,000 in April 2017. The April 2018 median was 0.3 percent below the peak $486,500 median in May 2007 (Figure 2). Adjusted for inflation, the April 2018 median remained 15.9 percent below the March 2007 peak. 

The state’s median sale price has risen year over year for 74 consecutive months, since March 2012.

In the six-county Southern California[2] region a total of 20,118 new and existing houses and condos sold in April 2018, down 3.7 percent month over month from 20,899 sales in March 2018 and down 1.5 percent year over year from 20,428 sales in April 2017. The April 2018 median sale price was a record $520,000, up 0.2 percent month over month from $519,000 in March 2018, and up 7.2 percent year over year from $485,000 in April 2017. Adjusting for inflation, however, the April 2018 median sale price remained 12.4 percent below its July 2007 peak.

California Median Sale Price

In the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area[3], a total of 7,497 new and existing houses and condos sold in April 2018, up 4.5 percent month over month from 7,173 sales in March 2018 and up 8.2 percent year over year from 6,927 sales in April 2017. The median sale price rose to an all-time high of $850,000 in April 2018, up 2.4 percent month over month from $830,000 in March 2018, and up 13.3 percent year over year from $750,000 in April 2017. The Bay Area’s April 2018 median was an all-time high even after adjusting for inflation.

California January-Through-April New Home Sales

Historically, new-home construction has served as the state’s pressure-release valve during periods of rising housing costs and waning affordability. In recent years, however, new-home sales have fallen well below historically normal levels. Statewide in April 2018 sales of newly built homes rose 4.0 percent year over year, compared with a 1.1 percent annual increase for resales. Sales of new homes were the highest in a decade for both the month of April and for the first four months of the year (Figure 3). But April 2018 sales were also 27 percent below average for the month of April since 2000, while new-home sales during the first four months of this year were also 27 percent below average for that four-month period since 2000.

CoreLogic researchers will provide additional analysis and insight into the latest housing trends at our upcoming EPIQ conference on July 29-31 in Dana Point CA. Hear from an expert panel of thought leaders on opportunities and threats facing the housing market in an enlightening session titled “Let’s Hear It From the Researchers.”

[1] Because of late data availability, April 2018 sales were not complete in some smaller counties.

[2] Southern California comprises San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

[3] The San Francisco Bay Area comprises Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano and Sonoma counties.

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