A Market Snapshot for California Real Estate Activity for 2010 and 2011

The market predictions for 2011 were given out just prior to the California Association of Realtors Expo October 5-8, 2010.

The California median price for a single family house bottomed out in 2009 and in August 2010 the unsold inventory index was about 6.1 months, a market "normal". Unsold inventory by price is highest at the upper end of the market, and the lower end of the market is a 4 month supply. Affordability reached 70% in 2009 and 65% in 2010, meaning two out of three household can afford to buy an entry-level home in California. 

Median price for condos was $258,000 statewide, sales of condos were up in the Spring. First time homebuyers are 44% of the market, especially for condos. However, 20% down payment was the  median down payment statewide.

There are more non-distressed sellers coming on the market this year, comprising up to 59% of the market, while short sales are 22% of the market overall. Multiple offers (about 4) existed on 51% of properties in June, 2010. Sellers net about $35,000 in cash at close of escrow in 2010. FHA loans were used by 32% of all buyers.
Short sales or distressed property conditions were the reason for 29% of all sellers putting home on the market--a record number since the survey started.
Investors comprised about over 13% of purchasers, an active part of the economic recovery, while 5.3% were second home/vacation property purchases.
44% of buyers changed their minds after opening escrow, reflecting a great deal of fear and uncertainty about the market for many buyers.
2011 should bring a slight increase in sales volumeby 2% (to 502,000 units) and a slight increase in median home price of about 2% to $312,500 for the California median price. Interest rates are expected to remain low, with as much as a .5% increase in rates.

2011 should bring a prime opportunity to buy, but the actual number of move-up buyers and sellers is also of concern due to the number of owners with continuing negative equity in their homes who may hold off selling for a long period of time.

High cost loan limits ($729,750) will continue through September 2011, very important to the Califonria housing market, because the median home price is still significantly higher than the rest of the country.
Los Angeles County median home price is about $349,000, an increase of 2.8% over 2009. This is  also a reflection of the movement in the low end of the market where properties have moved much more rapidly than the high end where some prices have softened.

Overall, home prices in the state have either stabilized or improved.

The "shadow inventory" properties held by the banks are predicted to be in a 3-5 year window for the foreclosed properties to return to the normal market, but prices are likely to hold steady because it is not in the lenders' best interests to flood the market with properties.
There is upward movement in low-end prices where there is a lot of competition between first-time buyers and investors, more than in the $1,000,000-plus market where there is much more inventory.

Long Beach is a "microcosm" of the state -- high end areas over $1,000,000 and low end areas such as North Long Beach with a high proportion of distressed properties, and will probably mirror similar Los Angeles County area performances. The recovery for the city will not be uniform, and will be a reflection of its various internal markets.

Modest price appreciation in the future is a much more realistic expectation than the 20%-plus gains during the boom years which precipitated the market downturn.

"We expect a net jobs increase of approximately 1.4 million jobs in California for the year to come and an improvement in unemployment figures,” Leslie Appleton-Young (CAR) said.

From the California Association of Realtors annual Realtor survey and the Housing Market Forecast for 2011.

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