California’s housing market continued to maintain a healthy sales pace in October 2021, above pre-pandemic levels and even as sales dipped from 2020. While prices leveled off, low mortgage rates are continuing to provide support, according to the latest 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 dipped 0.9 percent on a monthly basis in October 2021 to 434,170, compared to 438,190 in September 2021, and down 10.4 percent from a year ago in October 2020, when 484,510 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 October pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.
Despite the fourth straight year-over-year sales decrease, statewide home sales maintained a 13.4 percent increase on a year-to-date basis.
In San Diego, home sales declined 4.9 percent between October and September 2021. In a year-over-year comparison, San Diego home sales were off by 8.3 percent.
Meanwhile, California’s median home price continued to level off as the market moved further into the off-season, dipping below the $800,000 benchmark for the first time in seven months. In October 2021, the statewide median price was $798,440, which was down 1.3 percent from the September 2021 price of $808,890 but was up 12.3 percent from the $711,300 recorded in October 2020.
October 2021 County Sales and Price Activity
(Regional and condo sales data not seasonally adjusted)
It was the second consecutive month for a statewide, month-to-month price decline. However, the price drop between September and October 2021 was on par with the 1.5 percent average decline over the past 42 years.
In San Diego, the price for an existing, single-family detached home remained at $850,000 in October 2021, the same price as of September 2021, but 13.5 percent higher than the October 2020 price of $749,000.
“As the housing market moves from ‘frenzied’ to ‘less frenzied’ and price growth comes back to earth, fewer homes are selling above asking price and bidding wars are less prevalent, so more buyers who pushed pause earlier this year will be able to take advantage of still-cheap financing,” said 2022 C.A.R. President Otto Catrina, a Bay Area real estate broker, and REALTOR®. “With their median price being 30 percent less than that of a single-family home, condominiums and townhomes have been selling particularly well as they are a more affordable option to buyers with a smaller budget.”
“Despite a slowdown in sales from last year’s robust fall season, the California housing market continues to stabilize and is outperforming the pre-pandemic levels observed in 2017, 2018, and 2019,” C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine said. “Slower sales activity suggests that the market is returning to its typical seasonal pattern and further market normalization can be expected in the upcoming months. While the market is showing signs of cooling off in recent months, 2021 continues to outpace last year’s sale level so far and is expected to post a gain at year-end.”
Other key points from C.A.R.’s October 2021 resale housing report include:
-- At the regional level, sales in all five major regions declined in a year-over-year comparison in October. Sales in Southern California also dipped by double-digits in October, with Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties each dropping 10 percent or more.
-- Almost all California counties (49 of 51) have experienced an increase in their median prices since last year and prices in 40 counties have increased by more than 10 percent since last October.
-- Market competitiveness remained elevated in October 2021. Nearly two-thirds of homes (60.2 percent) sold above the asking price. The statewide sales-price-to-list-price ratio was 101.5 percent in October 2021, compared to 100.2 percent in October 2020. The 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 with 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.
-- October 2021 was the 13th consecutive month since September 2020 that more than half of the homes sold above the asking price. In September 2021, six out of 10 homes (62.2 percent) sold above the asking price, compared to 67 percent in August 2021 and 70 percent in July 2021.
-- Statewide, the unsold inventory of available homes for sale was 1.8 months in October 2021, compared to 1.9 months in September, August, and July 2021. In October 2020, the unsold inventory figure statewide was at 2.0 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.
October 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 October 2021 was at 1.5 months, compared to 1.6 months in September 2021 and 1.8 months in October 2020. The figure was 1.7 months in August 2021 and July 2021.
-- The median number of days it took to sell a California single-family home inched up to 11 days in October 2021, up from 10 days in September 2021 and 10 days in October 2020. The uptick was the first in more than two years. The 11-day figure compares to nine days in August 2021, eight days in July and July, 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 nine days in October 2021, which was the same number in September 2021. In October 2020 and September 2021, the number was seven days. The nine-day figure 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. The median represents a timeframe when half the homes sell above it and half below it.
-- The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 3.07 percent in October, up from 2.83 percent in October 2020, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable mortgage interest rate was an average of 2.54 percent, compared to 2.89 percent in October 2020.