Homes Sales in the West Slightly Higher in January

Homes sales in the Western region of the nation inched approximately 3% higher in the last month.  The increase benefited from a comparison to January 2009 sales, which was in the wake of the US financial crisis.

Nationally, sales rose 7% from January 2009.  The median was flat at $164,700.  In the West, the median price fell by nearly 6% to $203,400.

In the Western region of the United States, homes sales surged for much of last year, fueled largely by homebuyers and investors snapping up bank-owned properties in California, Arizona and Nevada.

Nationally, sales fell around 33% from December and by nearly a quarter in the West.  Some of that decline is likely due to seasonal factors, but also a decline in the number of buyers racing to qualify for an $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit.  Lawmakers ultimately extended the deadline to April 30 and added a $6,500 incentive for repeat buyers, taking some of the urgency out of the dealmaking.  Another factor for the fall in home sales was the inventory of homes for sale has been shrinking.

Throughout the Western region, the supply of homes under $100,000 stood at just over 3 months in January; it was around 5 months for homes below $250,000.  In markets like San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, the roster of available homes has dropped 40% or more from where it was a year ago, according to the Associated Press.

Eight cities registered annual sales increases last month:  Honolulu, Seattle, Albuquerque, Portland, Phoenix, Boise, Las Vegas and Billings.

Five metropolitan areas posted annual price declines:  Denver, San Diego, Anchorage, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Some Regional Highlights:

  • Steepest price drop:  The median homes sales price in Las Vegas tumbled 20% from a year ago to $120,000 as homebuyers continued to snap up discounted bank-owned properties.  Sales jumped 20% from a year earlier.
  • Sharpest price gain:  San Francisco, where the median price posted an annual increase of about 25% to $410,000.
  • Biggest sales gain:  Sales in Honolulu jumped about 65% from a year ago.  The metro’s median home price was essentially flat from a year ago at $418,500.
  • Largest sales decline:  Denver saw sales drop about 14% from January 2009, while the median sale price surged 23% to $195,000.