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CALIFORNIA EXISTING HOME SALES DECLINE DURING FIRST QUARTER; OPPORTUNE MARKET CONDITIONS SHARPLY IMPROVE HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

 LOS ANGELES, May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Existing detached home sales in California fell during 1993's first quarter from both the last and first quarter of 1992, the California Association of REALTORS (C.A.R.) reported.
 "Wet weather conditions and faltering consumer confidence earlier this year were the key factors in the weak first quarter performance," said C.A.R. President Walt McDonald. "However, recent news of rising consumer spirits and dramatically improved housing affordability during the past year should add up to an active spring homebuying season," said McDonald, a Riverside REALTOR.
 Among factors related to C.A.R.'s first-quarter housing sales report:
 -- Statewide, 413,550 existing, single-family detached homes closed escrow during the first quarter on an annualized basis -- down 9.9 percent from a revised annualized rate of 458,750 sales in the fourth quarter of 1992.
 -- First quarter sales were 6.3 percent lower than the revised first-quarter 1992 pace, when 441,350 homes were sold on an annualized basis.
 The annualized figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 1993 if sales occurred at the first-quarter pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors which influence home sales.
 -- Statewide, the median sales price of an existing, single- family home was $190,470 in the first quarter, down 1.6 percent from $193,540 in the last quarter of 1992, and down 4.1 percent from $198,690 in the first quarter of 1992.
 "Persistently high housing inventory, combined with a slow pace of sales, continued to put downward pressure on home prices," said Leslie Appleton-Young, C.A.R.'s vice president of research and economics. "Regionally, however, home prices in Northern California are maintaining their levels relatively better than in Southern California," said Appleton-Young.
 -- The inventory of unsold detached homes rose from the fourth quarter-1992 level, as measured by C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index. The Index indicates the number of months it would take to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current rate of sales. For the January through March period, the Index was 15.2 months, up from 12.3 months in the previous quarter but down from 15.5 months in the first quarter of 1992.
 -- Statewide, sales of existing condominiums also fell during the first quarter. Condo sales dropped 20.4 percent in the first quarter on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, compared with the fourth quarter of 1992, and were down 28.9 percent from the first quarter of 1992.
 -- The statewide median price of an existing condominium declined 4.6 percent from $144,640 in fourth-quarter 1992 to $137,950 in the first quarter. The first quarter figure was down 6.9 percent from the $148,180 reported in the first quarter of 1992.
 -- The condominium Unsold Inventory Index was 18.2 months in the first quarter, up from 15.1 months in the previous quarter and 15.9 months in the first quarter of 1992.
 -- Mortgage interest rates remained attractive during the first quarter. According to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., fixed- rate mortgages averaged 7.72 percent in the first quarter of 1993, down from 8.22 percent in the previous quarter and 8.71 percent in the first quarter of 1992. Adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 4.98 percent in the first quarter, down from 5.25 percent in fourth- quarter 1992 and 5.96 percent in the first quarter of 1992.
 Housing affordability improved dramatically throughout California during the first quarter, thanks to sharp drops in mortgage interest rates and lower home prices.
 -- Statewide, 37 percent of households earned the minimum income needed to qualify to purchase the median-priced, single-family home at the end of the first quarter, up from 29 percent a year ago. Assuming a 20 percent downpayment on a median-priced home, which sold for $191,520 in March, a household needed a minimum annual income of $51,200 to qualify for that home loan -- about $7,500 less than the income required a year ago. The monthly mortgage payment on that home -- including property taxes and insurance -- would be $1,280.
 -- Fifty-four percent of households could qualify for a mortgage to purchase a median-priced California condominium in March, up from 44 percent in March 1992. Assuming a 20 percent downpayment on a $137,300 median-priced condominium, a household needed a minimum annual income of $36,710 to qualify for that loan -- down sharply from the minimum income of $43,200 required a year ago. The monthly mortgage payment on that condominium would be $920.
 Regional home sales, price and housing affordability data are contained in the following charts. (Regional sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors which influence home sales.)
 C.A.R. median price and sales data for detached homes are based on reports from 84 Boards of REALTORS around the state. Median condominium price and sales data are based on a survey of 32 Boards. The median price for both detached homes and condominiums is based on closed escrow sales. Sales revisions reflect the re-seasonalization of monthly sales data using seasonal factors calculated with the 1979-1992 sales.
 The California Association of REALTORS is a statewide trade association with 115,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.
 FIRST QUARTER 1993 REGIONAL SALES AND PRICE ACTIVITY(a)
 Regional and Condo Sales Data Not Seasonally Adjusted
 Percent Percent Percent Percent
 Change Change Change Change
 in in in Sales in Sales
 Price Price Activity Activity
 Median from from from from
 Price 4th Q 92 1st Q 92 4th Q 92 1st Q 92
 Calif. (sf) $190,470 -1.6 pct -4.1 pct -9.9 pct -6.3 pct
 Calif. (condo) $137,950 -4.6 pct -6.9 pct -20.4 pct -28.9 pct
 Region
 Central Val. $ 98,880 -3.5 pct -3.1 pct -27.8 pct -14.4 pct
 High Desert(b) $113,850 2.8 pct 1.4 pct -7.0 pct 16.3 pct
 Los Angeles $199,650p -4.0 pctp -8.0 pctp -25.5 pctp -9.7 pctp
 Monterey $229,550 3.8 pct -0.9 pct -26.3 pct -8.0 pct
 Nor. Calif. $136,440 -1.1 pct -0.6 pct -23.3 pct -9.1 pct
 Nor. Wine Co. $187,740 -3.0 pct -3.0 pct -17.0 pct 1.6 pct
 Orange Co. $222,170 -3.7 pct -5.6 pct -6.2 pct 5.2 pct
 Palm Springs/
 Lwr. Desert(b)$121,670 6.8 pct 1.8 pct -23.3 pct -41.8 pct
 Riverside/S.B. $135,400 -0.2 pct -1.5 pct -17.4 pct -4.3 pct
 Sacramento $130,360 -1.4 pct -3.4 pct -28.6 pct -16.0 pct
 San Diego $175,470 -3.1 pct -3.9 pct -24.5 pct -0.7 pct
 S.F. Bay $249,270 -3.1 pct 0.8 pct -16.7 pct -18.7 pct
 Sta. Barbara(b)$211,270 -0.6 pct -1.8 pct -23.3 pct 8.3 pct
 Sta. Clara $243,790 -0.3 pct -1.2 pct 0.9 pct -25.3 pct
 Ventura $208,190 -4.2 pct -6.7 pct -18.2 pct 12.8 pct
 (a) Based on closed escrow sales of single-family, detached homes only (no condos). Reported month-to-month changes in sales activity may overstate actual changes because of the small size of individual regional samples. Movements in sales prices should not be interpreted as measuring changes in the cost of a standard home. Prices are influenced by changes in cost and changes in the characteristics and size of homes actually sold.
 (b) Because of the small sample size in these areas, prices and activity changes may be overemphasized.
 sf: single-family, detached home
 p: Los Angeles figures are preliminary because of insufficient data.
 Source: California Association of REALTORS
 A comparison of median home prices by region for the first quarter of 1993 and the first quarter of 1992.
 1st Quarter 1st Quarter
 1993 1992
 California (sf) $190,470 $198,690
 California (condo) $137,950 $148,180
 Region
 Central Valley $98,880 $102,000
 High Desert $113,850 $112,270
 Los Angeles $199,650p $216,980
 Monterey $229,550 $231,640
 Nor. California $136,440 $137,320
 Nor. Wine Country $187,740 $193,480
 Orange County $222,170 $235,430
 Palm Springs/Lwr. Desert $121,670 $119,570
 Riverside/San Bernardino $135,400 $137,500
 Sacramento $130,360 $135,020
 San Diego $175,470 $182,500
 San Francisco Bay $249,270 $247,340
 Santa Barbara $211,270 $215,160
 Santa Clara $243,790 $246,650
 Ventura $208,190 $223,110
 Source: California Association of REALTORS
 p: Los Angeles figure is preliminary because of insufficient data.
 MARCH 1993 HOUSING AFFORDABILITY INDEX
 Median Monthly Minimum Percent
 Home Sales Housing Qualifying Households
 Price Payment(a)Ann.Income Qualifying
 United States $106,000 $710 $28,340 57 pct
 California (sf) 191,520 1,280 51,200 37 pct
 California (condo) 137,300 920 36,710 54 pct
 Los Angeles 201,280 1,350 53,810 34 pct
 Orange County 218,690 1,460 58,470 43 pct
 Riverside/San
 Bernardino 137,080 920 36,650 50 pct
 Sacramento 130,000 870 34,760 52 pct
 San Diego 174,600 1,170 46,680 41 pct
 San Francisco Bay 250,060 1,670 66,850 33 pct
 Ventura 215,290 1,440 57,560 44 pct
 Average of fixed and adjustable mortgage interest rates in March 1993: 7.39 pct.
 MARCH 1992 HOUSING AFFORDABILITY INDEX
 Median Monthly Minimum Percent
 Home Sales Housing Qualifying Households
 Price Payment(a)Ann.Income Qualifying
 United States $104,300 $760 $30,270 53 pct
 California (sf) 202,330 1,470 58,720 29 pct
 California (condo) 148,830 1,080 43,200 44 pct
 Los Angeles 222,540 1,620 64,590 24 pct
 Orange County 238,160 1,730 69,120 31 pct
 Riverside/San
 Bernardino 136,810 990 39,710 45 pct
 Sacramento 133,500 970 38,750 45 pct
 San Diego 186,990 1,360 54,270 31 pct
 San Francisco Bay 253,550 1,840 73,590 25 pct
 Ventura 226,680 1,650 65,790 34 pct
 Average of fixed and adjustable mortgage interest rates in March 1992: 8.42 pct.
 sf: single-family, detached home
 (a): including property taxes and insurance
 Source: California Association of REALTORS
 -0- 5/5/93
 /CONTACT: Lotus Lou or Jeff Hershberger of California Association of REALTORS, 213-739-8304/


CO: California Assocation of REALTORS ST: California IN: FIN SU:

LS-JL -- LA007 -- 4806 05/05/93 11:01 EDT
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