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Home / News / SoCal home sales cool as prices continue to rise

SoCal home sales cool as prices continue to rise

by Staff
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California home sales in March fell on a year-over-year basis for the first time in three months after registering back-to-back increases in January and February, the California Association of Realtors said Wednesday. 

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 267,470 in March. March’s sales pace fell 7.8 percent from the revised 290,470 homes sold in February and declined 4.4 percent from a year ago, when a revised 279,700 homes were sold on an annualized basis. The sales pace remained below the 300,000-threshold for the 18th consecutive month. On a year-to-date basis, home sales still exceeded the level experienced in first-quarter 2023 by 0.7 percent, but the gain continued to shrink in March.

“While home sales lost momentum in March, the housing market remains competitive as we’re seeing the statewide median home price reaching the highest level in seven months, and homes selling quicker than last year,” said CAR President Melanie Barker. “On the supply side, the market continues to improve with an increasing number of properties being listed on the market as more sellers begin to accept the new normal.”

The statewide median price recorded a year-over-year gain in March, climbing 7.7 percent from $793,260 in March 2023 to $854,490 in March 2024. California’s median home price was 6.0 percent higher than February’s $806,490. The year-over-year gain was the ninth straight month of annual price increases for the Golden State. March marked the 11th time in the last 12 months that the median price for an existing single-family home was above $800,000.

Sales of homes priced at or above $1 million dollars in California have been holding up better than their more affordable counterparts in the state in the last few months. The $1 million-and-higher market segment continued to grow year-over-year in March by a decent clip (9.9 percent), while the sub-$500,000 segment declined again modestly (-2.4 percent).

“With mortgage rates reaching the highest levels since mid-November 2023, the housing market struggled to build on the momentum exhibited in the first two months of this year,” said CAR Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine. “While sales could be hindered by higher rates in the coming weeks, the uptick in recent months suggests that we could see a bounce back in housing activity when the market digests the latest inflation report.”

The median price in the Los Angeles metro area rose 1.4% from February to $801,000, a 9% increase from last year at the same time.

The median price in Los Angeles County declined by 1.5%, dropping from $817,100 in February to $805,100 last month.

Orange County median home prices increased 3.7% from February to $1.4 million in March, 12% higher than last year.

Unadjusted raw sales decreased on a year-over-year basis in all major regions except the Central Coast. The Central Valley region experienced the biggest drop from a year ago at a decline of -9.6 percent, followed by Southern California (-7.8 percent), the San Francisco Bay Area (-5.4 percent) and the Far North (-4.0 percent). The Central Coast (+7.2 percent), on the other hand, recorded a solid sales increase from last March as sales in two of the four counties in the region surged on year-over-year basis by double-digits.

All major regions registered an annual increase in their median price from a year ago. The San Francisco Bay Area experienced the biggest price jump on a year-over-year basis, increasing 15.5 percent from last March. Along with Southern California (11.1 percent), they were the only two regions with a double-digit price gain from a year ago. The Far North (5.6 percent), the Central Valley (5.2 percent), and the Central Coast (3.0 percent) also posted an increase in their median price from a year ago, but their growth rates were relatively mild compared to the aforementioned regions.

Active listings at the state level increased on a year-over year basis for the second consecutive month, and the increase for the current month was the largest in 13 months. That said, mortgage rates could reach a four-month-high in coming weeks and they are expected to remain elevated longer than previously anticipated, which could delay some potential sellers in putting their house up on the market.

The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 6.82 percent in March, up from 6.54 percent in March 2023, according to C.A.R.’s calculations based on Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage survey data.

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