After 16 months of year-over-year declines, median home prices in California posted a gain, according to the California Association of Realtors. The median price of a single-family home for March 2012 posted a 9.2 percent increase compared to February’s median price of $266,660. The month-over-month increase was the largest since March 2004. In the Southern California area, where the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) wants to implement the REO bulk sale pilot program, inventory is running at levels well below the long-run average,” said C.A.R. VP and chief economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “These low inventory levels demonstrate that the pilot program is not necessary in California.” The pilot program involves the sale of government-owned REOs in bulk to institutional investors who will convert them into rental properties. According to C.A.R., in California, the program would call for the sale of more than 600 Fannie Mae-owned foreclosed homes in Los Angeles and Riverside counties.
Recently, 19 California congressmen sent a letter to Edward DeMarco, acting director of FHFA, asking him to make California an exception to the program. C.A.R. reported that California’s housing inventory declined, with the Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family homes down to 4.1 months in March, compared to a revised 5.4 months in February and a 5.4 month supply in March 2011. Los Angeles county had a 4.3 month supply, and Riverside county had an even lower number, with 3.8 months of inventory.
Not only is California’s housing inventory down, but according to C.A.R., it takes less days to sell a home there, with the time it took to sell a single-family home dropping to 53.1 days in March 2012, compared to 58.9 days in February and 57 days for March 2011. These figures support what is being seen by local Realtors. In many cases, current homes in good condition on the market are receiving multiple offers and to some extent resulting in bidding wars where the potential Buyer’s are asked to bring their “best and highest” offer. Whether or not this is a long-term shift in market conditions remains to be seen.