Home prices, sales decline in Riverside County

RIVERSIDE – Mirroring a statewide trend, home prices and sales both declined in Riverside County in January compared with the previous month — the result of a typical seasonal slowdown combined with a scarcity of available homes for sale, the California Association of Realtors announced today.

“A rush by home buyers trying to complete sales of higher-priced homes by the end of last year in order to avoid capital gains increases pulled forward sales that might have closed in January instead,” according to Don Faught, president of the Los Angeles-based CAR. “Additionally, the extreme shortage of homes for sale continues to hinder California’s housing market…”

The median price of an existing single-family home in Riverside County was $244,780 in January, down 2.7 percent from December’s median of $251,520, according to CAR. Home sales saw a 17.8 percent month-to-month drop.

According to CAR, closed escrow sales of existing single-family detached homes across the state totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 491,720 units in January. That brought January sales down 6 percent from a revised 523,090 in December and down 3.9 percent from a revised 511,760 in January 2012.

The statewide median price of an existing single-family detached home fell 8.1 percent from December’s $366,930 median price to $337,040 in January, according to CAR. But January’s price was up 24.1 percent from a revised $271,490 recorded in January 2012, marking the 11th consecutive month of annual price increases and the seventh consecutive month of double-digit annual gains, the association reported.

“The drop in the median price from December to January is in line with the seasonal pattern that we’ve observed in recent years, when the sales share of lower-priced homes usually increases at the start of the year,” CAR Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young said. “For example, homes priced under $200,000 made up 28 percent of sales in January, up from 25 percent in December. Conversely, homes priced $500,000 and higher made up nearly 24 percent of sales in January, down from nearly 28 percent in December.”

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