Housing demand tempered for the fourth consecutive month in August, even while the statewide median home price set another record high.
The California real estate market continued its return to more normal conditions, prior to COVID-19, according to the monthly home sales and price report from the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.).
Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes statewide on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate were down 3.3 percent on a monthly basis from 414,860 in August to 428,980 in July, and down 10.9 percent from a year ago, when 465,400 homes were sold on an annualized basis. The statewide annualized sales figure, collected from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide, represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2021 if sales maintained the August pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.
August’s statewide sales level was the lowest in 14 months. Despite the monthly and annual sales drop, California home sales remained strong by pre-pandemic standards, maintaining a solid year-to-date increase of 21.3 percent statewide.
In San Diego, home sales in August 2021 declined 5.1 percent compared to July 2021, and 1.6 percent lower than August 2020.
August 2021 County Sales and Price Activity
(Regional and condo sales data not seasonally adjusted)
After taking a breather in July, California’s median home price set a new record in August 2021 at $827,940 which was the fifth record set in the past six months. The August 2021 price was 2.1 percent higher than the $811,170 recorded in July 2021 and 17.1 percent higher than the $706,900 recorded in August 2020. The median price in California remained above the $800,000 benchmark for the fifth consecutive month.
In San Diego, the median price for a single-family detached home in August 2021 was $835,000, which was 2.9 percent lower than the July 2021 price of $860,000, but 14 percent higher compared to the August 2021 price of $732,560.
“The normalizing market and modestly improving housing inventory in the past few months have created an opportunity for homebuyers who sat out the highly competitive housing market seen over much of the past year,” said C.A.R. President Dave Walsh. “With the highest level of active listings in nearly a year, interest rates expected to stay consistently low, and a dip in multiple offers, now is a good time for discouraged buyers to get back into the game.”
“While home sales at the lower end of the market are underperforming due to a lack of supply and the economic uncertainty induced by the COVID resurgence, the higher-priced segments continue to see double-digit sales growth that’s keeping the overall market from moderating too fast,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine. “With interest rates expected to stay low for the rest of the year, sales in California will remain solid by pre-pandemic standards while price growth will likely ease further in the coming months.”
Other key points from C.A.R.’s August 2021 resale housing report include:
-- At the regional level, sales in three of the five major regions dipped a year ago. Southern California (-4.1 percent) and Central Valley (-2.0 percent) experienced a sales drop from last year. Riverside (-13.6 percent), San Bernardino (-15.6 percent), Madera (-32.7 percent), and Placer (-13.5 percent) are a few counties that fell by double-digits in August.
-- Nearly three-quarters of all counties, 37 of 51, posted year-over-year decreases in closed sales in August, with 23 counties declining by more than 10 percent from last year.
-- Median prices in all major regions continued to increase by double-digits. The Far North had the largest jump (19.1 percent) year-over-year, followed by Southern California (18.8 percent), San Francisco Bay area (18.4 percent), Central Valley (16.9 percent), and Central Coast (11.4 percent). Despite the strong price growth rates, all regions decelerated from a few months ago, when regional median prices surged by more than 20 percent year-over-year.
-- After increasing for the past six consecutive months, California’s housing supply leveled off in August as the market transitioned into the off-season. The number of for-sale properties dipped slightly by 2.6 percent between August and July of this year and a 10.9 percent decline from August 2020. The year-over-year decline was the smallest in two years.
-- New active listings in August 2021 dipped from a year ago for the second straight month after increasing for four straight months from March through June. The dip in new active listings could be due to seasonality but the surge in COVID cases also may have played a role.
-- The imbalance between supply and demand continued to heat up the market, with many buyers offering sales bids over the asking price. In August 2021, 67 percent of homes sold above their asking price, making it the 11th consecutive month since September 2020 that more than half of homes sold above their asking price. In July 2021, 70 percent of homes sold above their asking price.
-- Statewide, the unsold inventory of available homes for sale was unchanged at 1.9 months for both August and July, and slightly below the August 2020 level of 2.1 months. Inventory levels measured in months indicate the number it would take for the available supply of homes on the market to sell out given the current rate of sales.
August 2021 County Unsold Inventory and Days on Market
(Regional and condo sales data not seasonally adjusted)
-- In San Diego County, the inventory of available homes for sale in August 2021 was unchanged from July 2021 at 1.7 months for both months, but slightly below the August 2020 level of 1.9 months.
-- The median number of days it took to sell a California single-family home inched up from eight days in July to nine days in August but was lower from 13 days in August 2020. The nine-day figure compares to eight days in June and seven days in May and April. Prior to setting record low numbers this year, the previous statewide record was nine days in November 2020.
-- In San Diego County, the median number of days an existing, single-family home remained unsold on the market was eight days in August 2021, which compares to seven days in July 2021, six days in June 2021, seven days in May 2021, six days in April 2021 and March 2021 and seven days in February 2021 and January 2021, as well as eight days a year ago in August 2020. The median represents a timeframe when half the homes sell above it and half below it.
-- The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 2.84 percent in August, down from 2.94 percent in August 2020, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable mortgage interest rate was an average of 2.42 percent, compared to 2.91 percent in August 2020.