California home prices climb in April on low interest rates, job growth; sales are brisk



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SAN DIEGO — California home prices climbed to a new 7 1/2-year high in April as low interest rates and job growth lured buyers, a research firm said Thursday. Sales were brisk.

The median sales price for new and existing single-family homes and condominiums rose to $405,000, a gain of 1.5 percent from $399,000 in March and 5.7 percent from $383,000 the same period last year, CoreLogic said. It was the highest median sales price since $414,000 in November 2007.

Some parts of the state witnessed double-digit annual price increases, including the city of San Francisco, where the median price was $1.1 million.

There were 40,145 homes sold in the state in April, a gain of 9.4 percent from March and 6.3 percent from April 2014. It was the second straight month that sales grew from a year earlier, even as supplies remained thin.

Before March, sales fell from a year earlier in nine of the previous 12 months as buyers competed for thin supplies and higher prices made homes less affordable. But brokers and economists said rising rental prices, low borrowing rates and a strong economy were boosting sales even as prices continued to rise.

"We hit our lull, and the lull is now behind us," said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics LLC, a Los Angeles consulting firm, who predicts sustained price increases.

David Silver-Westrick, operating partner of Keller Williams OC Coastal Realty in southern Orange County, said the market was improving despite owners' resistance to put homes up for sale. San Clemente, a city of about 65,000 people, has 220 houses and condominiums for sale, compared with a normal market of about 600 properties.

"There are so many buyers running into one another at showings and open houses. They'll be an agent waiting outside. Buyers see that and begin to sense there's some urgency," he said.

The state had a 3 1/2-month supply of single-family homes for sale in April, well below what is considered a normal market of five to seven months, according to the California Association of Realtors. Inventories were much lower in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In Southern California, the median sales price was $429,000, up 0.9 percent from $425,000 in March and up 6.2 percent from $404,000 in April 2014, according to Irvine-based CoreLogic. The six-county region posted sales of 21,708 homes, up 9.9 percent from March and an 8.5 percent increase from April 2014.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the median sales price was $657,000, up 2.7 percent from $640,000 in March and 7.7 percent from $610,000 a year earlier. The nine-county region posted sales of 7,778 homes, up 13.5 percent from March and up 2.4 percent from April 2014.

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