Home Resales Up 13% in May, Realtors Say

Buoyed by a continued drop in mortgage rates, resales of single-family homes throughout California rose to their second-highest level in almost five years, the California Assn. of Realtors reported Wednesday.

May resales were up 13% from April but down 1% from May, 1984, when resales hit their highest level since late 1980, the association said. On a seasonally adjusted basis, May resales reached 460,696 homes.

At the same time, the median value for an existing single-family home in California rose to $115,011, up 4% from May, 1984, according to the real estate brokerage trade organization. The median price in this case means that half of the single-family homes in California cost more than $115,011 and half cost less.

Highest Price

The Santa Barbara area continued to have the state's highest median home price--$139,564. Orange County followed at $136,764, while San Francisco was third at $136,629, the real estate brokerage group said. The median home price was $116,616 in the Los Angeles area, $105,638 in San Diego, $128,157 in Ventura and $87,181 in Riverside and San Bernardino.

"The May resale activity reflects the impact of declining mortgage interest rates on the housing market," said Raymond Spinelli, president of the 100,000-member brokerage group. (Average fixed-rate mortgages have dropped to about 12% while introductory adjustable-rate mortgages have declined to about 9%.)

"Stable economic growth and consumer confidence in the market have convinced home buyers that this is a favorable time to enter the market," Spinelli added.

The news from California follows a report Tuesday from the Commerce Department in Washington that new home sales nationwide jumped nearly 10% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 676,000.

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