California existing-home sales slid 0.8% in February, but jumped 83% compared to the same period a year ago as homebuyers continued to flock to sharply reduced prices and interest rates in the nation’s largest housing market.
The sales of 620,410 single-family homes on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis came as the median price of a home plunged 40.8% to $247,590 from a year ago, according to estimates released Wednesday by the California Association of Realtors. The increased sales activity from a year earlier helped shrink the inventory of unsold homes to 6.5 months in February from 15.3 months in the 2008 period, the Realtors group reported.
California’s resurgence comes as housing markets nationally are showing signs of new life, as well. Existing-home sales nationwide jumped a seasonally adjusted 5.1% in February, the biggest one-month gain since late 2003, the National Association of Realtors reported on Monday. The group said buying activity was strongest in places such as Southern California and Las Vegas, which have a glut of foreclosures.
Few experts say California is out of the woods, though. With an unemployment rate of 10.5% in February that is expected to continue to rise, they say many more foreclosed properties are likely to end up on the market, weighting down housing prices.