California home sales edged up slightly in August compared to July, but remained nearly 15 percent lower than a year ago.
August sales amounted to 447,530 existing single-family homes, the California Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. That seasonally adjusted rate was up nearly 2 percent from July, but far below the 526,110 sales recorded for August 2009.
The state’s median sales price increased 8.6 percent from a year earlier to $318,660.
The sales drop was even sharper than the Bay Area’s decline of nearly 11 percent for August, which was earlier reported by MDA DataQuick of San Diego. Home sales for the nine-county area fell to an 18-year low for the month of August.
DataQuick analysts said the sales decline suggested that would-be buyers were waiting on the sidelines in the hopes of further price cuts.
With that concern apparently in mind, California Realtor Association President Steve Goddard said, “Buyers who are holding out should consider the opportunities in today’s market. Favorable home prices and interest rates at or near historic lows make housing affordability the best in recent memory. Anyone who is in a position to buy a home should do so before either of these key factors rise.”
Leslie Appleton-Young, the association’s chief economist, suggested the mix shifted somewhat in August, with stronger sales for higher-priced homes and weaker sales in the starter home market.
“As a result of the strength in the upper-end market and inventory levels that are higher but still lean by average, we’re seeing home prices holding steady,” Appleton-Young said.
The association’s Unsold Inventory Index rose to 6.1 months in August compared with 4.6 months in August 2009.
— Robert Digitale