Thursday, April 16, 2020

CAR on California March Housing: Sales down 6.1% YoY

by Calculated Risk on 4/16/2020 03:18:00 PM

The CAR reported: California’s housing market begins to feel effects of coronavirus as March home sales drop, C.A.R. reports

California home sales fell from both the previous month and year in March as the coronavirus pandemic began taking a toll on the housing market, especially in the last two weeks of the month as the state’s stay-at-home order was put in place, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 373,070 units in March, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide annualized sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2020 if sales maintained the March pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

March’s sales total was down 11.5 percent from the 421,670 level in February and was down 6.1 percent from a year ago. The month-to-month drop was the first double-digit loss in more than nine years and the largest since August 2007. Additionally, the year-over-year decline was the first in nine months and the largest decrease since March 2019.

The relatively moderate sales decrease that occurred in March is only a prelude to what we’ll see in April and May because sales were still modestly strong during the first two weeks of March before stay-in-place orders were implemented throughout the state,” said 2020 C.A.R. President Jeanne Radsick, a second-generation REALTOR® from Bakersfield, Calif. “However, pending sales, which is a better reflection of the current market conditions and consumer concerns about the coronavirus, dropped nearly 25 percent and suggest the decline could extend beyond the next couple of months, depending on the duration of the pandemic and the lockdown.”
...
California’s supply of available housing decreased in March from the prior month as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to disrupt the economy and the housing market. Potential home sellers are holding off listing their properties on the market as uncertainty about the future economic/market conditions remains. C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index dropped to 2.7 months in March, down from 3.6 months both in February and March 2019. It was the lowest inventory level in three months. The index indicates the number of months it would take to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current rate of sales.
emphasis added
CR Note: This is just the beginning of the sales decline. Existing home sales are reported when the transaction closes, so this was mostly for contracts signed in January and February. The CAR didn't include inventory, but it appears inventory is down sharply too (no one wants strangers walking through their homes right now).