Home price gains slowed down long enough to allow Southern California home buyers to get active on the real estate market in February. A report from the California Association of REALTORS® found an uptick of home selling activity for the state, with the southern region performing particularly well early on in the buying season.
According to CAR, existing home sales climbed in February by 4.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 368,160. In addition to rising above January’s revised rate of 351,480, last month also saw a 2.4 percent increase from February 2014’s 359,600. This was the largest year-over-year increase the state of California has seen since December 2012, which means the state is gaining good strength early on in what could be a record year for home sales.
“While February’s statewide improvement in the housing market was moderate, it’s an encouraging sign, nevertheless, as we head into the spring home-buying season,” said C.A.R. President Chris Kutzkey. “On the supply side, housing inventory improved overall with active listings growing at a faster pace of 5.3 percent when compared to last February. Regionally, both active listings in Southern California and Central Valley increased moderately from last year, while housing supply declined 10 percent in the Bay Area.”
Two of the most important factors that are helping to drive home sales upward are inventory and home price appreciation. With a five-month supply at current sales pace, inventory this year is vastly improved from last year’s 4.7-month level. Home price gains have also moderated substantially from their double-digit figures last year. In February, median home values in California were 5.5 percent higher than a year ago.
San Diego Home Buyers Were Active
While the previously booming Bay Area has slowed down substantially, Southern California’s communities continue to show healthy market activity. San Diego County in particular showed strong home sales in February.
San Diego home sales grew by 14.8 percent from January and 5.7 percent from February 2014. Following San Diego was Orange and Riverside counties, which had month-over-month gains of 10.9 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively. Los Angeles County saw a slight decrease of 0.3 percent in home sales, while San Bernardino and Ventura also saw home sales fall off at rates of 7.8 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.
San Diego has been one of the hardest hit counties in terms of limited inventory for home buyers to purchase. Those woes may persist just a little bit longer as the increased activity on the San Diego market has left inventory a little depleted in February. The unsold inventory index dropped from 5.0 in January to 4.7 in February. Despite this low level, inventory still seems to be in the winter month lull as many home sellers opt to put their homes on the market for the spring season. It’s still a bit early to see inventory really flex its muscles, which means that as the season heats up so should the availability of San Diego homes.
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