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California Existing Home Sales Surge in July

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Existing home sales increased 43.4 percent last month in California as the median price plummeted 40.3 percent, the California Association of Realtors reported today.

The group said the seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate of existing single-family detached homes totaled 489,080 during July, up from a 341,130 sales pace a year ago.

Sales during the month were also up 15.3 percent from June 2008 as the year-over-year median home price fell at a record pace to $350,760, down from a revised $587,560 median in July 2007.

“Once again, the 40.3 percent year-to-year decrease in the median price of a home was an all-time record, surpassing the previous record set in June with a 37.9 percent decrease,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young, in a press release.

“Since the statewide median remained in the $585,000-$595,000 range through August of last year, the market will continue to experience significant year-to-year adjustments through August even if the median price holds steady over the next few months,” she said. “The statewide median was last in the $350,000 range in early 2003.”

C.A.R. President William E. Brown said “deeply-discounted, distressed sales” (foreclosures) drove volume higher in much of the state, and noted that jumbo conforming loans likely had an impact as well.

“Year-to-year increases in the number of transactions ranged from a 6.7 percent increase in the San Francisco Bay Area to a 176.5 percent increase in the Riverside/San Bernardino region,” he said.

That led to a significant drop in unsold inventory, which fell to 6.7 months supply last month, down from 10 months in July 2007.

Homes also sold more quickly last month, with the median number of days it took to unload a property falling to 47.5 days from 50.7 days a year ago.

New Home Sales Off 35.3 Percent Nationwide

Meanwhile, the Commerce Dept. said new home sales rose 2.4 percent last month from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 515,000 units, but still remain 35.3 percent below the July 2007 pace of 796,000.

The median sales price of a new home sold in July was $230,700, down 6.3 percent from $246,200 a year earlier.

Last month, supply fell to 10.1 months from 10.7 months in June, but still far exceeds the 8.3 months of supply seen in July 2007.

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