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January pending home sales and Market Pulse Survey

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For release:
February 24, 2017

California pending home sales dip slightly in January; Southern California market continues to outshine other regions

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 24) – Following relatively strong closed escrow home sales over the past few months, California pending home sales slipped negligibly from a year ago, which suggests a softening in the housing market in the upcoming months, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.

Reflecting a seasonal pattern, REALTORS® responding to C.A.R.’s January Market Pulse Survey** saw a bounceback in floor calls, listing appointments, and open house traffic from December.

Pending home sales data:

• Based on signed contracts, statewide pending home sales decreased in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, with the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)* slipping 0.2 percent from 107.4 from January 2016 to 107.2 in January 2017. On a monthly basis, California pending home sales were down 9.2 percent from the December index of 118.0. 

• Only the Southern California region posted a year-over-year improvement in pending sales last month, rising 8.1 percent from January 2016 and increasing 10.5 percent on a monthly basis. Riverside County led the region in pending sales, posting a 16.2 percent increase from a year ago. Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties also posted modest year-over-year increases of 7.1 percent, 8.0, and 4.0 percent, respectively. San Bernardino County was the only area within Southern California that saw pending sales lower on an annual basis by 2.8 percent.

• For the San Francisco Bay Area as a whole, tight housing supplies and low affordability contributed to a fall in pending sales of 9.7 percent compared to January 2016. Only San Mateo County posted an annual increase, rising 5.3 percent from January 2016 after posting a significant double-digit annual decline (35.3 percent) in December. Pending home sales decreased 21.2 percent in San Francisco County, 7.1 percent in Santa Clara County, 24.9 percent in Monterey, and 4.8 percent in Santa Cruz County. A shortage of homes on the market and poor affordability will likely persist throughout the year, and impact Bay Area home sales.

• Pending sales in the Central Valley fell 7.9 percent from January 2016 and were up 2.2 percent from December. Within Central Valley, pending sales were down 14.6 percent in Kern County and 11.8 percent in Sacramento compared with a year ago.

Year-to-Year Change in Pending Sales by County/Region

County/Region/State Jan-17 Jan-16 Yearly % Change
Kern 59.9 70.1 -14.6%
Los Angeles 74.0 69.0 7.1%
Orange 54.7 50.6 8.0%
Riverside 46.7 40.2 16.2%
San Diego 109.5 105.3 4.0%
San Bernardino 60.2 61.9 -2.8%
Monterey 43.3 57.7 -24.9%
Sacramento 51.3 58.1 -11.8%
San Francisco 42.6 54.1 -21.2%
San Mateo 51.7 49.1 5.3%
Santa Clara 48.0 51.7 -7.1%
Santa Cruz 65.9 69.2 -4.8%
San Francisco Bay Area 96.2 106.5 -9.7%
Southern Calif. 82.6 76.4 8.1%
Central Valley 67.0 72.7 -7.9%
California (SA)* 107.2 107.4 -0.2%

* Seasonally adjusted

January REALTOR® Market Pulse Survey**:

While pending sales were lower in January, California REALTORS® responding to C.A.R.’s January Market Pulse Survey expect improved market conditions in the near term, as they reported an increase in floor calls, listing appointments, and open house traffic compared to December.

• The share of homes selling above asking price rose from 17 percent a year ago to 25 percent in January. Conversely, the share of properties selling below asking price decreased to 38 percent from 47 percent in January 2016. The remaining 36 percent sold at asking price, unchanged from January 2016.

• For homes that sold above asking price, the premium paid over asking price dipped to 8.6 percent, down from 9.8 percent a year ago.

• The 38 percent of homes that sold below asking price sold for an average of 17 percent below asking price in January, compared to 13 percent a year ago.

• About two-thirds of properties for sale (62 percent) received multiple offers in January, down from 66 percent in January 2016.

• The share of properties receiving three or more offers in January was 32 percent, compared to 34 percent a year ago.

• The share of homes priced $400,000 to $499,000 posted the largest gain in receiving three or more offers, rising from 28 percent in January 2016 to 37 percent in January 2017. Homes priced under $200,000 posted the greatest drop in receiving three or more offers.

• Just under one-fourth (24 percent) of properties had listing price reductions in January, unchanged from January 2016.

• Rising for the fifth straight month, a lack of available inventory was the top concern for 36 percent of REALTORS®. Eroding housing affordability/high interest rates concerned 29 percent of REALTORS®. Inflated home prices/housing bubble was cited by 14 percent of REALTORS®. A slowdown in economic growth, lending and financing, and policy and regulations rounded out REALTORS®’ remaining biggest concerns.

• REALTORS®’ expectation of market conditions over the next year flattened out in January at an index of 65, slightly down from an index of 66 a year ago.
Graphics (click links to open):
• YTY change in pending home sales by region.
• More properties selling above asking price.
• Share of properties receiving multiple offers.
• Price range of homes receiving 3+ offers.
• Lack of inventory tops REALTORS®’ concerns.

*Note:  C.A.R.’s pending sales information is generated from a survey of more than 70 associations of REALTORS® and MLSs throughout the state. Pending home sales are forward-looking indicators of future home sales activity, offering solid information on future changes in the direction of the market. A sale is listed as pending after a seller has accepted a sales contract on a property. The majority of pending home sales usually become closed sales transactions one to two months later. The year 2008 was used as the benchmark for the Pending Homes Sales Index. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2008.

**C.A.R.’s Market Pulse Survey is a monthly online survey sent to more than 10,000 California REALTORS® to measure data about their last closed transaction and sentiment about business activity in their market area for the previous month. Approximately 300 REALTORS® responded.

Leading the way...® in California real estate for more than 110 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (www.car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with more than 185,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.
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