In an article today on Redding.com
|Monthly home sales in Shasta County in May reached their highest level since fall as buyers took advantage of declining prices.”It’s first-time homebuyers taking advantage of programs, low-interest rates and some pretty good inventory,” Shasta Association of Realtors board member Greg Lloyd said Thursday.
DataQuick Information Systems reported that 158 new and used homes were sold in May, a 20.6 percent jump from April’s total of 131. There was one more home sold last month than in May 2008, DataQuick reported.
The 158 closed escrows last month were the most since October, when 168 homes were sold in Shasta County.
After experiencing an 18.6 percent month-over-month jump in the median sales price in April, sales fell last month.
The median sales price in Shasta County in May was $181,000, down from $210,000 in April. The median sales price in May 2008 was $246,000.
More than half the homes sold in Shasta County last month were priced at $200,000 or less, according to Shasta Association of Realtors’ statistics.
The group reported that 162 homes sold in May, up from 133 in April.
The Shasta Association of Realtors relies on its members to report sales. DataQuick gets its numbers from the county recorder’s office.
“I would say a preponderance of foreclosure properties are down in the lower price range,” Shasta Association of Realtors board member Brad Garbutt said.
Nearly 37 percent of the used homes sold in May in Shasta County were bank repossessions, DataQuick reported.
Garbutt estimated some of those lower-end homes are selling for half of what they fetched during the market’s peak at $300,000 in March 2006.
Experts like Joel Singer, executive vice president of the California Association of Realtors, have speculated that statewide, the low end of the market is getting the attention because move-up buyers have no equity to sell, Garbutt said. That’s true in Shasta County, too, he said.
“They have the desire to improve their homes, to move up … but they find out their house is not worth anything close to what they thought and it takes them out of the market,” Garbutt said.
Wayne Martin of Real Estate 1 in Redding said that in addition to first-time homebuyers, investors also dominate the market.
“What we saw, I believe, is that people finally got tired of waiting and they entered the market,” Martin said of May’s uptick.
Martin estimates there’s a backlog of bank-repossessed properties ready to hit the market. His office recently was assigned seven bank repos to sell.
“I think we will see a dramatic increase in REO (bank repos) activity in the next 60 to 90 days,” Martin said.
Ironically, a 90-day state moratorium on foreclosures took effect earlier this month. The stay applies to first mortgages made from 2003 through 2007.
Meanwhile, the average interest rate in May for a conventional 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage on loans of $417,000 or less was 4.88 percent, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported Thursday.
But rates have recently climbed.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said Thursday on its Web site that rates for a 30-year mortgage averaged 5.5 percent.
“If you have a little bit of money, some support, a good job and good credit, it’s a great time to get in,” Lloyd said.