Housing demand in California remained strong in March 2022 as home sales ticked higher and the statewide median price set another all-time high, primarily due to a surge in sales of higher-priced homes. However, the effects of rising interest rates have yet to be borne out, according to the latest home sales and price report released on April 19 by the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.).
The number of closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes statewide on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate totaled 426,970 in March 2022, which was up 0.5 percent from the February 2022 total of 424,460, and down 4.4 percent from March 2021, when 446,410 homes were sold on an annualized basis.
March 2022’s statewide year-over-year sales decrease was the ninth straight decline and the smallest in eight months. Year-to-date statewide home sales were down 7.0 percent in March.
The statewide annualized sales figures, collected from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide, represent what would be the total number of homes sold during 2022 if sales maintained the March pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.
In San Diego, home sales in March 2022 were higher in a month-over-month comparison and lower in a year-over-year comparison. San Diego home sales in March 2022 were up 34 percent, compared to February 2022, but were down 2.2 percent compared to March 2021.
March 2022 County Sales and Price Activity
(Regional and condo sales data not seasonally adjusted)
Meanwhile, the California median home price rose above the $800,000 benchmark for the first time in six months. California’s median home price reached a new record high in March 2022 at $849,080, surpassing the previous record of $827,940 set in August 2021.
The March 2022 price was 11.9 percent higher than the $758,990 posted in March 2021. The month-to-month percent change in median price was the highest pace since March 2013. The 10.1 percent month-to-month increase in March 2022 from the February 2022 price of $771,270 was the first time in nine years that the monthly price increase reached double-digits.
A surge in sales at the top end of the market was the primary factor for the jump in the statewide median price at the end of the 2022 first quarter. The share of million-dollar home sales increased for the second consecutive month, surging to 32.9 percent in March 2022, the highest level on record.
Additionally, strong month-to-month sales growth in the San Francisco Bay area contributed to the jump in sales of million-dollar homes statewide, as 70 percent of the region’s sales were priced above $1 million, and sales in the region increased 70.5 percent from February 2022.
Home prices are expected to edge higher as the market continues in the spring homebuying season over the next few months.
In San Diego in March 2022, the median sales price for an existing, single-family detached home was $950,000, a 7.0 percent increase from the $888,000 price in February 2022. The March 2022 median price also was 18.8 percent higher than a year ago at $800,000 in March 2021, marking an increase of $150,000 in one year.
“With homes still selling at a rapid clip and more homes selling above asking price than last summer when prices were at record highs, California’s housing market continues to perform remarkably well as buyers enter the market to get ahead of rising mortgage interest rates,” said C.A.R. President Otto Catrina, a Bay Area real estate broker, and REALTOR®. “An increase in active listings for the first time since prior to the pandemic should give consumers more options and alleviate some of the upward pressure on home prices, which bodes well for prospective buyers.”
“March sales data continues to suggest strong buying interest and a solid housing market, as the effects of higher mortgage interest rates won’t be realized for a few more months,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine. “With the Federal Reserve expected to announce two back-to-back half-point interest rate hikes in May and June to combat inflation, interest rates will be elevated for the foreseeable future, adversely affecting housing demand and lowering housing affordability in the coming months, but the effects may not be visible until the second half of the year as many of the homes that are, or will be, the closing was negotiated before the sharp increase in rates.”
Other key points from C.A.R.’s March 2022 resale housing report include:
-- At the regional level, all major regions except the Central Valley recorded a decrease in sales on a year-over-year basis. The Central Coast region recorded the sharpest sales decline of all regions again, dropping 20.1 percent from a year ago. The Far North had the second-largest sales decline at 7.7 percent, followed by Southern California (-7.5 percent) and the San Francisco Bay Area (-2.7 percent). Sales in the Central Valley increased for the second straight month with a year-over-year increase of 2.8 percent.
-- Home prices in all major regions in the state continued to surge from last year by double-digits, with four of them reaching a new record high in March. The Central Coast region recorded the highest year-over-year price growth with a 20.4 percent increase, followed by the Central Valley (19.3 percent), the San Francisco Bay Area (17.9 percent), and Southern California (13.8 percent), and the Far North (12.9 percent).
-- At the county level, home prices continued to increase across the state, with 25 counties setting new record highs in March. Forty-six out of fifty-one counties tracked by C.A.R. experienced increases in their median prices in March, with 38 of them rising more than 10 percent from a year ago.
-- California’s unsold inventory of homes in March 2022 remained unchanged from a year ago at 1.7 months, marking the first time in nearly two years the index did not decline on a year-over-year basis. Inventory levels indicate the number of months it would take for the available supply of homes on the market to sell out given the current rate of sales.
March 2022 County Unsold Inventory and Days on Market
(Regional and condo sales data not seasonally adjusted)
-- In San Diego, the inventory of available homes for sales in March 2022 was 1.4 months, compared to 1.5 months in February 2022, January 2022, and March 2021. Inventory levels from previous months in 2021 included: December, 1.0; November, 1.3; October, 1.5; September, 1.6; August, 1.7; July, 1.7.
-- The median number of days it took to sell an existing, single-family home in San Diego County in March 2022 was 7 days, compared to 7 days in February 2022, 9 days in January 2022, and 6 days in March 2021. Numbers from previous months in 2021 included: December, 8; November, 9; October, 9; September, 9; August, 8; July, 7; June, 6; May, 7; April, 6. The median represents a time when half the homes sell above it and half below it.
-- Statewide, the median number of days it took to sell a California single-family home in March 2022 was 8 days, compared to 9 days in February 2022, 12 days in January 2022, and 8 days in March 2021. Numbers from previous months in 2021 included: December, 12; November, 11; October, 11; September, 10.
-- The statewide median sales-price-to-list-price ratio remained above 100 percent at 103.9 percent in March 2022, 102.6 percent in February 2022, and 102.2 percent in March 2021. Sales-to-list-price ratio is an indicator that reflects the negotiation power of home buyers and sellers under current market conditions. The ratio, expressed as a percentage, is calculated by dividing the final sales price of a property by its last list price. A sales-to-list ratio of 100 percent or above suggests that the property sold for more than the list price, while a ratio below 100 percent indicates that the price sold below the asking price.
-- The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 4.17 percent in March, up from 3.08 percent in March 2021, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable mortgage interest rate averaged 3.19 percent, compared to 2.78 percent in March 2021.