“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.” ~ Russell Baker
This quote from writer Russell Baker seems especially apropos, since I recently braved the blistering Central California heat. (“Blistering” is not hyperbole. As anyone knows who has spent any time in cities like Bakersfield, Fresno and Sacramento, it takes only 10 minutes of standing outside for the sweat to begin dripping down your bare legs and the same amount of time for the leather seats in your car to become a burn hazard).
After returning to the pleasant 70-degree temps of Santa Monica, I have come to realize that there are only two things that make a summer bearable in the center of our state: 1) pools and 2) air conditioning. If you don’t have at least one of these luxuries, you will be one miserable suffering fool.
Historically, summer is one of real estate’s hottest times of year—and I’m not talking about just the weather. Of course, it also depends on where you live. In Palm Springs, buyers might choose cooler pastures from June to September. (Can you blame them?) In Malibu, buyers might clamor for a chance to finally snap up their dream beach house. (Can you blame them?) Micro markets exist across the state—and there are exceptions from ZIP code to ZIP code. But if we were to take the temperature of the California real estate market as a whole right now, what would it be? Would it be in the triple digits? In the very pleasant 80s? Or in the cooler 70s?
In plain language, sales are down and prices are up in California. According to the latest DataQuick numbers (released yesterday), there were 39,254 homes and condominiums sold in June. While that number was up 4% from May (when there is typically a seasonal spike), it was nearly 20% below the average for all Junes since 1988. Also, the median home price in June was $393,000— the highest median price for any month since December 2007 (still well below the peak of $484,000 set in spring 2007). C.A.R. President Kevin Brown explains what is happening this way: “The market is still constrained by tight supply and low housing affordability in areas of high demand, where job growth is robust and international buyers have a strong presence.”
What’s your personal pulse on the market right now? You can tell us in the comments below. And if you want more context, we’ve compiled some recent real estate headlines:
Home Prices Still Climbing, But at a Slower Pace; Sacramento Bee
Bay Area Home Builders Struggle to Keep Up With Demand; San Jose Mercury News