Housing slowly but surely keeps getting better

SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE

California home sales in May rose 9.3% from April and 17.6% from May 2011 — the highest sales for any May since 54,099 homes sold in May 2006 near the height of the housing bubble, according to DataQuick.

An estimated 41,790 new and resale houses and condos sold statewide last month energizing a long-struggling housing sector ready for some good news.

Sales have increased on a year-over-year basis for the past 10 months.

California sales for the month of May have varied from a low of 32,223 in 1995 to a high of 67,958 in 2004, while the average is 46,638, according to DataQuick statistics that go back to 1988.

The median price paid for a home in California last month was $270,000, up 2.3% from $264,000 in April, and up 8.4% from $249,000 in May 2011.

But existing home sales declined 1.5% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 million in May from 4.62 in April due to limited supplies of housing inventory, according to the National Association of Realtors. While they are down from last month, the numbers are still 9.6% above the 4.15 million-unit pace in May of last year.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said inventory shortages in certain areas of the country have been building all year, and the drop in sales is “more likely due to supply constraints rather than softening demand,” noting that the normal seasonal bump in inventory did not occur this spring.

According to the release, there are broad-based shortages of inventory in the majority of the country with the exception of the Northeast. The problem is harshest in the West, where supply is extremely tight in all price ranges except for the upper end.

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