But a closer look at the association’s figures and other fresh data on the California real estate scene shows a more positive message for Golden State homebuyers, home sellers and the U.S. housing economy as a whole.
Let’s go to the numbers.
For the month of November, the association’s Pending Home Sales Index dropped a surprisingly ample 14.4% for the month. Overall, pending home sales in the state were down 0.9% from November 2011. That’s hardly a devastating number for the regional real estate market, but since pending home sales — as the association describes them — are forward-looking indices, any decline could be a sign things may not going as smoothly for the U.S. housing market.
There is some good news once you dig deeper.
For example, the ratio of “non-distressed” home sales (in other words, purchases of short-sale homes or foreclosed homes) actually rose from October to November, from 63.4% to 64.9%. The Realtor group reports that’s the highest number of such sales since May 2008 — a good sign that “troubled” homes are rolling off the inventory lists and more traditional home sales are taking their place.
An even deeper look inside the numbers reveals that California’s main population center — Southern California, encompassing Los Angeles, San Diego and their nearby suburbs — saw their strongest monthly sales since 2005 in November, according to Data Quick, a La Jolla-based real estate information provider.
According to DataQuick, the median home sale price in the sprawling Southern California region was up almost 17% from November 2011 to November 2012. Like CAR, DataQuick points to the decreased inventory of foreclosed (and usually cheaper) homes as a big reason home prices in the area have not only stabilized, but have climbed significantly.