California real estate sets new records in December for sales and median price of a home, C.A.R. reports

January 27, 2004

The median price of an existing home in California in December increased 19.4 percent and sales increased 11 percent compared to the same period a year ago, the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported today.

"The median price of a home in California topped $400,000 for the second time in 2003, hitting a record $404,520 last month," said C.A.R. President Ann Pettijohn. "Demand for homes continued unabated, propelled by mortgage rates that remained below 6 percent and an extremely low inventory of homes for sale."

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 637,080 in December at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local R EALTOR® associations statewide. Statewide home resale activity increased 11 percent from the 573,790 sales pace recorded in December 2002.

The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2003 would be if sales maintained the December pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during December 2003 was $404,520, a 19.4 percent increase over the revised $338,840 median for December 2002, C.A.R. reported. The December 2003 median price increased 5.1 percent compared to a revised $384,930 median price in November.

"Overall, year-to-date sales increased 5.1 percent compared to the same period a year ago," said Leslie Appleton-Young, C.A.R.'s vice president and chief economist. "Nearly every region in the state posted double-digit increases in the median price, with the Riverside/San Bernardino region reporting a gain of more than 32 percent."

Highlights of C.A.R.'s resale housing figures for December 2003:

  • C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in December 2003 was 1.8 months, compared to 2.1 months for the same period a year ago. The index indicates the numb er of months needed to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.
  • Thirty-year fixed mortgage interest rates averaged 5.88 percent during December 2003, down from 6.05 percent in December 2002, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable mortgage interest rates averaged 3.75 percent in December 2003 compared to 4.12 percent in December 2002.
  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 27 days in December 2003, compared to 28 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.
  • Regional MLS sales and price information is contained in the tables that accompany this press release. Regional sales data is not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales. The MLS median price and sales data for detached homes is generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS â throughout the state. MLS median price and sales data for condominiums is based on a survey of more than 60 associations. The median price for both detached homes and condominiums represents closed escrow sales.
  • In a separate report covering more localized statistics generated by C.A.R. and DataQuick Information Systems, 93.7 percent or 371 of 396 cities and communities showed an increase in their respective median home prices from a year ago. DataQuick statistics are based on county records data rather than MLS information. DataQuick Information Systems is a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates.
  • · Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during December 2003 were: Malibu, $1,178,750; Los Altos, $1,165,000; Manhattan Beach, $1,100,000; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,065,000; Beverly Hills, $1,062,000; Burlingame, $1,030,000; Calabasas, $936,000; Laguna Beach, $927,500; Newport Beach, $925,000; Saratoga, $870,000.
  • Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the greatest median home price increases in December 2003 compared to the same period a year ago were: Calabasas, 49.8 percent; Malibu, 44.8 percent; Sanger, 44.2 percent; Desert Hot Springs, 43.9 percent; Palm Springs, 41.2 percent; Perris, 41 percent; Beverly Hills, 39.7 percent; Newport Beach, 37 percent; Chino Hills, 36.7 percent; La Verne, 36.5 percent.

Regional and Condo Sales Data Not Seasonally Adjusted


Median Price Percent Change in Price from Prior Month Percent Change in Price from Prior Year Percent Change in Sales from Prior Month Percent Change in Sales from Prior Year
Dec-03 Nov-03 Dec-02 Nov-03 Dec-02

Calif. (sf)

$ 404,520 5.1% 19.4% 1.6% 11.0%
Calif. (condo)

$ 305,770

3.0% 20.6% 8.6% 10.8%

Central Valley

$ 240,080

2.3% 17.1% 5.4% 10.2%

High Desert

$ 171,900

-0.4% 23.8% 11.4% 12.1%

Los Angeles

$ 382,140

0.0% 26.8% 6.9% 2.1%

Monterey Region

$ 513,020 4.8% 17.0% 7.7% 6.5%

Monterey County

$ 470,000 3.3% 28.8% 8.2% 7.8%

Santa Cruz County

$ 549,250 3.0% 6.7% 7.1% 7.1%

Northern California

$ 302,080 1.1% 21.8% 5.7% 9.9%

Northern Wine Country

$ 448,680

0.8% 18.2% 9.0% -4.3%

Orange County

$ 533,030

1.3% 22.8% 14.9% 5.4%

Palm Springs/Lower Desert

$ 283,160 11.6% 14.9% 23.0% 26.9%

Riverside/San Bernardino

$ 243,320 3.5% 32.1% 20.9% 20.3%


$ 268,920

3.1% 18.5% 11.2% 1.6%

San Diego

$ 466,030

2.5% 22.2% 12.7% 4.7%

San Francisco Bay

$ 582,320 1.4% 13.6% 14.7% 18.6%

San Luis Obispo

$ 413,640

7.4% 17.4% 24.9% 58.7%

Santa Barbara County

$ 397,100

3.4% 6.1% 21.2% 3.5%

Santa Barbara South Coast

$ 970,000

17.6% 21.3% 30.8% 6.3%

North Santa Barbara County

$ 336,230

0.2% 17.1% 11.9% 2.5%

Santa Clara

$ 570,000 1.8% 5.9% 7.7% 28.6%
Ventura $ 488,690 2.9% 22.0% 17.0% 1.9%

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*Based on closed escrow sales of single-family, detached homes only (no condos). Reported month-to-month changes in sales activity may overstate actual changes because of the small size of individual regional samples. Movements in sales prices should not be interpreted as measuring changes in the cost of a standard home. Prices are influenced by changes in cost and changes in the characteristics and size of homes actually sold.

sf = single-family, detached home

Soure: California Association of REALTORS

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