According to the California Association of Realtors, home sales in California have dropped to their lowest point in 16 years

California’s housing market, a critical component of the state’s economy, is witnessing significant changes as we head into 2023. Recent data indicates a notable drop in home sales, reaching the lowest level in 16 years.

In November, the number of single-family homes sold in California fell to 223,940, marking a 7.4% decrease from October and a 5.8% drop compared to the same time last year. The median home price, while dropping 2.2% from October, was still up 6.2% from November 2022.

This decline in sales is attributed to a combination of higher borrowing costs, high interest rates, and a limited supply of homes​​.

Regional Variances

Regional trends within California show some variance. For instance, in San Mateo County, home sales in November increased by 10.2% year-over-year but decreased by 5% from October. Santa Clara County witnessed a 3.2% increase in home sales compared to last year, though sales were down 16.3% from October. Despite these fluctuations, the market is expected to soften further in December, a traditionally slow month due to the holidays​​.

Economic Factors and Future Projections

The California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) forecasts a 7.2% decline in existing single-family home sales in 2023, amounting to 333,450 units. This downturn is influenced by a modest recession driven by ongoing inflation, resulting in elevated interest rates and suppressed buyer demand​​.

Additionally, the median home price in California is expected to decrease by 8.8% to $758,600 in 2023, following a 5.7% increase in 2022​​.

Housing Affordability and Market Dynamics

Housing affordability is projected to drop to 18% in 2023 from 19% in 2022. High inflation and economic concerns are predicted to maintain higher mortgage rates, reducing buying power and making housing less affordable for prospective buyers.

The market shift is prompting buyers and sellers to adapt to these new realities, with well-priced homes still selling quickly but fewer homes selling above asking price​​.

Consumer Behavior and Market Outlook

Consumers are cautioned against expecting significant decreases in interest rates. The notion of a 2%-3% mortgage interest rate is deemed unlikely to recur anytime soon. This situation requires both buyers and sellers to be strategic and manage their expectations in the current market environment​​.

California’s housing market is undergoing a period of adjustment as it faces economic headwinds and shifting consumer behaviors. While some regions show resilience with slight increases in home sales and prices, the overall trend indicates a cooling market.

The challenges of high interest rates and limited supply, coupled with economic uncertainty, are reshaping the housing landscape in California. Buyers, sellers, and stakeholders will need to navigate these changes cautiously as the state’s housing market continues to evolve in 2023.

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