California February Statewide Home Sales/Median Prices

March 19, 2009

An estimated 29,225 new and resale houses and condos were sold statewide last month. That was down 0.8 percent from 29,458 in January and up 42.5 percent from 20,513 for February 2008. Sales have increased on a year-over-year basis the last eight months. California sales for the month of February have varied from last year's low to a peak of 48,409 in 2004, while the average is 32,517. MDA DataQuick's statistics go back to 1988.

The median price paid for a home last month was $224,000, unchanged from the month before, and down 39.9 percent from $373,000 for February a year ago. Around half of the drop in the median is due to price depreciation, while the other half is due to shifts in the types of homes selling, and how those homes are financed. Last month was the first without a month-to-month decline in the median since May 2007.

Of the existing homes sold last month, 58.4 percent were properties that had been foreclosed on. A year ago it was 33.3 percent.

The typical mortgage payment that home buyers committed themselves to paying last month was $976. That was down from $969 in January, and down from $1,774 for February a year ago. The typical mortgage payment has not been below $1,000 since May-99. Adjusted for inflation, last month's mortgage payment was the lowest in DataQuick's statistics, which go back to 1988. The payment was 53.4 percent below the spring 1989 peak of the prior real estate cycle. It was 62.2 percent below the current cycle's peak in June 2006.

MDA DataQuick is a division of MDA Lending Solutions, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. MDA DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity has been off its 2008 peaks but remains near record levels, while financing with adjustable-rate mortgages is at an all-time low, as is financing with multiple mortgages. Down payment sizes and flipping rates are stable, while non-owner occupied buying activity is above-average in some areas, MDA DataQuick reported.

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