Housing Rebound? Look to Golden State
By: Brian O'Connell

NEW YORK (BankingMyWay) — Just as Freddie Mac comes out with numbers showing the national housing market improving amid a continuing low mortgage rate environment, news from the West Coast shows the market may really be picking up steam in California.

The California Association of Realtors delivers the goods in its Annual Housing Market Survey.

In it, the association says that about six in 10 Golden State home sellers have received multiple offers on their properties this year. At 57%, that’s the highest figure since 2000, the association reports. Those home sellers wound up getting, on average, 4.2 offers this year, up from 3.5 last year.

There is one caveat – CAR says that most of the action on the multiple offer front comes from short sales and real-estate owned properties; 70% of such homes got multiple offers, compared with only 50% of traditional single-family home sales.

Still, the signs are unmistakable that the housing market in California, one of the hardest-hit states after the housing collapse of 2008, is on the upswing.

“Well-qualified buyers are recognizing the once-in-a-generation opportunity to purchase a home in California and are jumping into the market,” association President LeFrancis Arnold says. “However, the fierce market conditions have forced many buyers to compete with all-cash offers and investors, setting off multiple offers and bidding wars, making it even more difficult for first-time buyers to become homeowners.”

The CAR also points out that the state has seen a good supply of homes “selling without a markdown from the asking price,” another solid sign of recovery.

The survey says 41% of all California homes sold without a markdown so far this year, the highest levels seen since 2005. What’s more, homes are selling faster in the state. CAR reports the average home selling within 32 days, compared with 67 days last year.

Another surprising statistic: approximately 30% of all new California homebuyers were “all-cash buyers” this year – that’s up from 9% back in 2001.

The data also show an uptick in first-time homebuyers, to 35.8% from 34.2% last year. The CAR survey points to “improved housing affordability resulting from low interest rates and affordable home prices.”

Clearly, the housing picture is brightening in California. If history is accurate, that momentum should move east in 2013, given an improving economy and no major economic calamities.

—For more ways to save, spend, invest and borrow, visit MainStreet.com.

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