by Tim Manni
One of the country’s hardest-hit housing markets has shown significant signs of improvement so far this year. According to the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.), single-family home sales increased 100.8% in January from a year ago. With home prices at extremely low levels, California has drastically begun reducing their unsold inventory.
The median price of a single-family home dropped 40.5% in January. The C.A.R.’s index of unsold homes depleted from 16.6 months in January of 2008, to just 6.7 months in 2009.
“The strength in California home sales in recent months signifies that the market is gradually working its way through the large numbers of distressed sales that have followed in the wake of the troubled mortgage problem. With favorable home prices and historically low mortgage rates, affordability in the California housing market is now at its highest since the start of the decade,” said C.A.R. President James Liptak.
Sales in Southern California’s six-county region continued to improve last month as well. The L.A. Times reported that homes sales increased 41% in February from 2008.
The recent uptick in housing reports hasn’t been limited to just the west coast. National housing starts rose 22% in January according to the Commerce Department. Indicators for new construction are also on the rise. Applications for building permits jumped 3% in February.
Economists are quick to warn against getting too excited over the news. However, if these statistics hold in the coming months, especially in foreclosure-ridden states like California, we may be witnessing a significant turnaround.