California Real Estate Market Stuck in Low Gear
September Sales Limited by High Prices and
Relatively Tough Lending Standards
September 2014 California single-family home and condominium sales fell 5.6 percent to 32,017 units from 33,931 in August. In the past 12 months, sales are down 4.4 percent from 33,484 sales in September 2013. September 2014 sales were the lowest September sales since 2007. On a regional basis, over the past 12 months sales are down 3.7 percent in the Bay Area, 4.9 percent in Southern California, and 8.3 percent in the Central Valley.
“The California real estate market is stuck in low gear,” said Madeline Schnapp, Director of Economic Research for PropertyRadar. “High prices and relatively tough lending standards have pushed many would be homeowners to the sidelines.”
The steady decline of lower priced distressed properties available for sale has been a key factor depressing sales. Whereas in September 2013 23.0 percent of sales were distressed properties, in September 2014 distressed property sales comprised only 16.6 percent of the total. In September 2011, 55.2 percent of sales were distressed property sales.
The median price of a California home in September was 385,000 dollars, down 1.3 percent from 390,000 dollars in August. Median prices have been flat 390,000 dollars since June 2014. On a year-ago basis, median home prices gained 8.5 percent, the slowest monthly gain since June 2012. Month-over-month price variations are impacted heavily by the sales of non-distressed properties, which in September comprised 83.5 percent of total sales. A better measure of median price movement occurs when sales are divided into distressed property sales and non-distressed property sales. The median price of non-distressed homes fell 1.4 percent for the month but increased 5.3 percent over the past 12 months. Meanwhile the median price of distressed homes was unchanged for the month is up 7.8 percent from a year ago. On a county level, median price increases have slowed or peaked in many of California’s largest counties. In September 13 of California’s 26 largest counties experienced monthly price declines compared to only six in March.
“From mid-2012 through June of this year, median prices in most of California’s largest counties were experiencing double digit year-over-year increases,” said Schnapp. “Since then, median prices increases have slowed or reversed in response to a fall-off in demand.”
In other California housing news:
- Improvement in negative equity has stalled due to a slowdown in price appreciation. In September, negative equity positions were nearly unchanged from August. Slightly more than 1.0 million California homeowners, or 11.6 percent remain underwater. Historically elevated levels of negative equity will continue to exert a drag on the California real estate market.
- Cash sales totaled 7,252 in September and were 22.4 percent of total sales. Cash sales have been steadily declining since reaching a peak of 40.0 percent of total sales, or 14,028, in August 2011. Since then, cash sales have fallen 48.3 percent.
- Flip sales fell 10.3 percent for the month and are down 34.2 percent for the year. Flip sales are defined as properties that have been resold within six months. Flip sales comprised 3.5 percent of total sales in September, down from 3.7 percent of in August. Flip sales peaked in October 2012 at 5.1 percent of total sales and have declined 43.8 percent since then.
- Institutional Investor LLC and LP purchases fell 16.8 percent for the month and are down 19.8 percent from August 2013. As the supply of distressed properties dwindle and prices rise, institutional investor demand has retreated due to the lower return on investment. In general, Institutional Purchases have posted consistent monthly declines since peaking in December 2012 and are down 51.9 percent since then. Trustee sale purchases by LLC and LPs are down nearly 90.0 percent from their October 2012 peak.
- Foreclosure starts, Notices of Default (NODs), fell 3.5 percent between August and September and are down 12.0 percent from September 2013. The downward trend extends a longer-term downward trend that began in March 2009. Foreclosure sales increased 11.2 percent for the month and are down 12.8 percent for the year.
Home Sales – Single-family residence and condominium sales by month from 2007 to current divided into distressed and non-distressed sales. Distressed sales are the sum of short sales, where the home is sold for less than the amount owed, and REO sales, where banks resell homes that they took ownership of after foreclosure. All other sales are considered non-distressed.
Year-over-Year Home Sales
Year-over-Year Home Sales – Single-family residences and condominiums sold during the same month for the current year and prior years divided into distressed and non-distressed sales.
Median Sales Prices vs. Sales Volume
Median Sales Price vs. Sales Volume – Median sales price (left axis) of a California single family home versus sales volume (right axis), by month from 2005 to current. Median sales prices are divided into three categories: All single-family homes (blue line), distressed properties (red line), and non-distressed properties (green line). Monthly sales volume (right axis) are illustrated as gray and lavender bars. The gray bars are distressed sales and the lavender bars are non-distressed sales.
California Homeowner Equity
California Home Owner Equity – A model estimate of California homeowners segregated into various categories of levels of homeowner equity for a given month. Homeowner numbers represent a percentage of total California homeowners.
Cash Sales – The blue bars (right axis) illustrate cash sales of single-family residences and condominiums by month. The red line (left axis) illustrates cash sales as a percentage of total sales by month.
Flipping – The number of single-family residences and condominiums resold within six months.
Market Purchases by LLCs and LPs
Market Purchases by LLCs and LPs – The blue bars (right axis) illustrate market purchases of single family residences and condominiums by LLCs and LPs from 2007 to current. The red line graph (left axis) illustrates LLC and LP purchases as a percentage of total sales by month.
Market Sales by LLCs and LPs
Market Sales by LLCs and LPs – The blue bars (right axis) illustrate market sales by LLCs and LPs of single-family residences and condominiums by month. The red line graph (left axis) illustrates sales as a percentage of total sales by month.
Trustee Sale Purchases by LLCs and LPs
Trustee Sale Purchases by LLCs and LPs – The blue bars (right axis) illustrate trustee sale purchases (foreclosure sales) of single-family residences and condominiums by LLCs and LPs from 2007 to current. The red line graph (left axis) illustrates purchases as a percentage of total trustee sales by month.
Foreclosure Notices and Sales
Foreclosure Notices and Sales – Properties that have received foreclosure notices — Notice of Default (green) or Notice of Trustee Sale (blue) — or have been sold at a foreclosure auction (red) by month.
Foreclosure Inventory – Preforeclosure inventory estimates the number of properties that have had a Notice of Default filed against them but have not been Scheduled for Sale, by month. Scheduled for Sale inventory represents properties that have had a Notice of Trustee Sale filed but have not yet been sold or had the sale cancelled, by month. Bank-Owned (REO) inventory means properties sold Back to the Bank at the trustee sale and the bank has not resold to another party, by month.
Real Property Report Methodology
California real estate data presented by PropertyRadar, including analysis, charts and graphs, is based upon public county records and daily trustee sale (foreclosure auction) results. Items are reported as of the date the event occurred or was recorded with the California county. If a county has not reported complete data by the publication date, we may estimate the missing data, though only if the missing data is believed to be 10 percent or less of all reported data.