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California home prices continue to fall; sales rise in 2009.

Expect home prices throughout most areas of California to post declines next year, while sales of existing homes will continue to rise in 2009, according to the Los Angeles based--California Association of Realtors [R] (C.A.R).

C.A.R. 's 2009 California Housing Market Forecast, released in October, assumes that the financial system will begin to show signs of stabilization in late 2008 and into early 2009 even as uncertainty is likely to persist through early next year, according to C.A.R. President William E. Brown.

"We expect that the economy will be at its weakest period over the next three quarters through the second quarter of 2009, with recessionary economic conditions throughout that time period, before we begin to see a turnaround in the second half of next year," said Brown. "Going forward, a great deal depends on the state of the financial system in general and the real estate finance situation in particular, as well as the flow of distressed sales through the market."

Expect sales of distressed properties in California to peak in early 2009--a critical factor in the housing market that directly impacts the time frame for stabilization in the median price, added Brown.

The median home price in California will decline 6 percent to $358,000 in 2009 compared with a projected median of $381,000 this year, while sales for 2009 are projected to increase 12.5 percent to 445,000 units, compared with 395,600 projected units in 2008, according to C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.

"Sales in 2008 will be ahead of last year by 12 percent, with a further increase of 12.5 percent expected in 2009. However, the next couple of quarters in late 2008 and early 2009 will be marked by seasonal decreases in activity, with a pickup expected by the second quarter of next year," said Appleton Young. "At 445,000 units projected in 2009, the sales environment will be well above the low point of 265,000 units in late 2007."

Expect the median price to be influenced through the balance of 2008 by the typical seasonal decrease in home prices as well as ongoing downward pressure from distressed sales, explained Appleton-Young.

For all of 2008, C.A.R. forecasts the median price to have fallen by 31.7 percent from $558,100 to $381,000, while in 2009, C.A.R. Projects the median price will show a 6 percent decline to $358,000.

"Looking ahead, home prices and favorable interest rates in 2009 will contribute to gains in affordability," Brown said. "However, we need to move through the current financial crisis and restore the flow of credit so that qualified buyers are able to take advantage of improved afford ability and successfully purchase homes."

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Title Annotation:Briefing Book
Comment:California home prices continue to fall; sales rise in 2009.(Briefing Book)
Publication:Mortgage Banking
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Dec 1, 2008
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