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STATEWIDE CALIFORNIA DETACHED HOME SALES DIP SLIGHTLY DURING MARCH, BUT INCREASE FROM YEAR AGO

 STATEWIDE CALIFORNIA DETACHED HOME SALES DIP SLIGHTLY
 DURING MARCH, BUT INCREASE FROM YEAR AGO
 Condominium Sales Jump Sharply from Previous Month and Year
 LOS ANGELES, April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Following a stronger than usual February, California existing home sales dipped slightly during March, but were up from a year ago, the California Association of REALTORS (C.A.R.) reported.
 "Statewide March home sales dipped slightly from February, but were up from March 1991 -- the month that last year's post-war, spring sales rally began to heat up," said C.A.R. President Chuck Lamb. "All of California's housing markets posted double-digit percentage sales increases from February, but sales activity in some key regions was not as strong as it typically is during March," said Lamb, a San Fernando Valley Realtor. "This led to a slight decline in the seasonally- adjusted statewide sales figure for March, compared with February," Lamb said.
 Among highlights of C.A.R.'s March housing sales report:
 -- Statewide, 452,470 existing, single-family detached homes closed escrow during March on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis -- down 2.4 percent from a revised annual rate of 463,520 in February. With the exception of February, the March sales pace remained higher than every other monthly pace registered since June 1991.
 -- The March sales pace was 5.2 percent higher than the revised March 1991 annualized rate, when 430,300 homes were sold. It was the fourth consecutive month of year-to-year increases in statewide sales -- the first time this trend has occurred in nearly three years.
 (Sales increased from the previous year during four consecutive months between February and May 1989.)
 The annualized figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 1992 if sales occurred at the March pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors which influence home sales.
 "Closed escrow home sales activity last month was hindered by higher mortgage interest rates which edged up during much of January and February -- the time when most of the March transactions were opened," said Leslie Appleton-Young, C.A.R.'s vice president of research and economics. "However, mortgage rates have fallen steadily since late March, and may dip somewhat lower because of the recent cut in the federal funds rate," said Appleton-Young. "This could further spur spring and summer home sales activity."
 -- The statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home rose 1.5 percent from a revised $196,420 in February to $199,390 in March.
 -- The March median price was down 1.0 percent from a revised $201,380 recorded in March 1991. A shift in sales to the less expensive areas of the state contributed to the first year-over-year dip in the median price in 12 months.
 -- C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index dropped dramatically during March because of a marked increase in non-seasonally adjusted home sales. The Index, which measures the number of months it would take to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current rate of sales, fell from 18.4 months in February to 12.5 months in March. Last month's Index was slightly lower than the 12.8 months recorded in March 1991.
 -- Fixed-rate mortgages averaged 8.93 percent in March, up from 8.76 percent in February, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. Adjustable rates rose from an average of 5.88 percent in February to 6.10 percent in March.
 -- Closed-escrow sales of existing condominiums soared 54.3 percent during March on a non-seasonally adjusted basis and were up 13.0 percent from March 1991.
 -- The median price of a resale condominium rose 2.4 percent from $145,280 in February to $148,830 in March. The median condo price was up 3.0 percent from $144,550 in March 1991.
 -- The jump in condo sales lowered the condominium Unsold Inventory Index during March. The Index declined from 19.0 months in February to 12.7 months in March but was up from 12.2 months in March 1991.
 -- All of the state's regional housing markets posted sharp month- to-month, double-digit percentage increases in sales, led mostly by the Sacramento, San Diego, Riverside/San Bernardino, Central Valley and Ventura regions. Additionally, the median home price rose in all but three regions. (Regional sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors which influence home sales.)
 C.A.R.'s median price and sales data for detached homes are based on reports from 83 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 1979-1991 sales.
 The California Association of REALTORS is a statewide trade association with 130,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.
 MARCH 1992 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 Feb. 92 Mar. 91 Feb. 92 Mar. 91
 Calif. (sf) $199,390 1.5 pct -1.0 pct -2.4 pct 5.2 pct
 Calif. (condo) $148,830 2.4 pct 3.0 pct 54.3 pct 13.0 pct
 Region
 Central Vly. $121,250 -0.3 pct 0.8 pct 53.3 pct 21.1 pct
 High Desert(b) $113,830 2.5 pct 11.6 pct 19.6 pct -15.4 pct
 Los Angeles $222,540 4.4 pct 3.3 pct 34.4 pct 3.6 pct
 Monterey $237,500 13.9 pct 3.8 pct 44.8 pct 73.7 pct
 Nor. Calif. $138,910 1.6 pct -0.1 pct 57.1 pct 50.2 pct
 Nor. Wine Co. $197,500 2.2 pct 9.7 pct 51.2 pct -19.5 pct
 Orange Co. $238,160 3.1 pct -0.2 pct 33.4 pct 3.8 pct
 Palm Springs/
 Lower Desert(b) $126,430 11.2 pct 10.2 pct 29.8 pct 17.4 pct
 Riverside/S.B. $136,810 -1.8 pct 1.1 pct 54.2 pct 12.0 pct
 Sacramento(c) $133,500 -1.1 pct -2.6 pct 67.1 pct 6.5 pct
 San Diego $186,990 5.3 pct 1.7 pct 59.0 pct 28.3 pct
 S.F. Bay $248,520 3.7 pct 0.1 pct 33.1 pct 2.4 pct
 Sta. Barbara(b) $223,960 3.9 pct 0.4 pct 26.0 pct 25.0 pct
 Sta. Clara $256,200 4.7 pct 2.7 pct 13.8 pct -9.5 pct
 Ventura $226,680 1.5 pct -0.9 pct 51.6 pct 6.4 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.
 (c) Source: Sacramento Association of REALTORS
 sf - single-family detached home
 Source: California Association of REALTORS
 A comparison of median home prices by region for March 1992 and March 1991.
 March March
 1992 1991
 California (sf) $199,390 $201,380
 California (condo) $148,830 $144,550
 Region
 Central Valley $121,250 $120,270
 High Desert $113,830 $108,030
 Los Angeles $222,540 $215,480
 Monterey $237,500 $228,790
 Nor. California $138,910 $139,030
 Nor. Wine Country $197,500 $180,000
 Orange County $238,160 $238,600
 Palm Springs/Lwr. Desert $126,430 $114,760
 Riverside/San Bernardino $136,810 $135,380
 Sacramento $133,500 $137,000
 San Diego $186,990 $183,890
 San Francisco Bay $248,520 $248,230
 Santa Barbara $223,960 $223,080
 Santa Clara $256,200 $249,570
 Ventura $226,680 $228,850
 Source: California Association of REALTORS
 -0- 4/27/92
 /CONTACT: Lotus Lou or Jeff Hershberger of the California Association of REALTORS, 213-739-8304/ CO: California Association of REALTORS ST: California IN: FIN SU:


EH -- LA004 -- 3063 04/27/92 11:04 EDT
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Date:Apr 27, 1992
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