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First Quarter Housing Market Report

Encouraged by record low levels in interest rates and continued decline in home prices, motivated home buyers helped the statewide sales improved for the fifth consecutive quarter since bottoming out in the fourth quarter of 2007. Sales of existing single-family homes surged to 590,390 in the first quarter of 2009, an increase of 9.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008, and a jump of 82.7 percent from the first quarter of last year. The sales level was the highest since the third quarter of 2005 when sales reached a near-record of 634,090.

Meanwhile, the median price for California continued to decline as deeply-discounted distressed sales remained at high levels in many parts of the state. The median home price for existing single-family detached homes dropped 40.1 percent from a year ago to $250,640 in the first quarter of 2009, reaching a level not seen since early 2001.

Southern California

Sales activity in Southern California followed the sales trend of the state closely with non seasonally adjusted first-quarter sales increasing 95.8 percent on a year-to-year basis from the first quarter of 2008. All regions in the area experienced an increase in sales of over 50 percent from a year ago, with the Riverside/San Bernardino region growing the most at 141.7 percent.

The median price for Southern California decreased 39.0 percent year-to-year to $259,000 in the first quarter of 2009, and had been declining in the range of 40 percent for three consecutive quarters. Home prices fell in all regions with year-to-year declines ranging from a drop of 51.6 percent in the Palm Springs/ Lower Desert Region to a drop of 28.3 percent in Orange County.

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