California's housing market held steady in April, new data released Thursday showed, with home prices bouncing off their year-earlier lows but sales declining as the number of bank-owned properties dwindled.
The median price for all homes sold in the Golden State was $255,000, a 15.4% jump from the April 2009 bottom, when more than half of sales were foreclosures. But the median — the price at which half the homes sold for more and half for less — was unchanged from March, according to San Diego real estate research firm MDA DataQuick.
A total of 37,481 houses and condominiums sold in April, down 1.3% from the same month one year earlier and up 0.5% from March, DataQuick said.
Foreclosures made up 38.1% of California's resale market in April, down from 54.6% in April 2009 and an all-time high of 58.8% of the market in February 2009, DataQuick said.
Some of the sluggish sales pace may be attributable to buyers delaying closings until May 1 or after to take advantage of a state tax credit of up to $10,000 for first-time buyers and those purchasing new homes.
Any boost from buyers rushing to grab the expiring federal tax credit last month isn't likely to be fully captured in April's data, either, as many of those deals are likely to close this month or next.
"Housing is recovering in California," said Gerd-Ulf Krueger, principal economist and founder of HousingEcon.com. "There will be a bit of a slowdown once the tax incentives go away, but otherwise I don't see any real reason for a major double dip in California."
The statewide data were in line with results for Southern California released earlier this week. On Tuesday, DataQuick reported that the Southland's median price in April was $285,000, up 15.4% from the April 2009 bottom. The median price was unchanged from March.
Southern California sales fell for the first time in 22 months, to 20,299 properties. That was down about 1% from April 2009 and from the previous month.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, the median price was $370,000 for all homes sold in April, an increase of 21.7% from the same month in 2009 but down 2.6% from March. A total of 7,003 homes sold in the Bay Area last month, down 1.9% from April 2009 and a 0.2% increase from March.