California Real Estate Ends 2012 on a High Note

California’s median home price struck a four-year high for a December, indicating housing will probably continue to mend in the new year.
The statewide median popped 21.5% from December 2011 to hit $299,000, real estate research firm DataQuick reported Wednesday. Last month’s gain adds to a housing recovery that began in earnest last year after foreclosures declined, housing inventory plummeted, mortgage interest rates hit record lows and demand from investors surged last year.
“Prices are in the midst of bouncing off bottom right now, and nobody really knows what the trajectory of this bounce will be beyond this point,” DataQuick president John Walsh said in a news release announcing Bay Area housing trends. “So far, supply has been a bottleneck, but as prices go up, more homes will be put up for sale.”
It was the highest level of the state’s median home price since August 2008. The median is the point at which half the homes in the state sold for more and half for less. T
Home sales rose 6.1% from the prior month and were up 5.4% from December 2011 to total 39,760 newly built and previously owned houses and condominiums sold.
Helping prices along was a decline in the percentage of foreclosed homes sold. Out of all previously owned homes sold last month, only 15.5% were foreclosures, compared to 16.9% in November and 33.9% in December 2011.
Short sales, where a bank allows a homeowner to sell their home for less than the property is worth, made up an estimated 25.3% of existing homes sold last month. That was a drop from 26.1% the month prior and 25.5% in December 2011.