California Housing Market Report

California Housing Market Report

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California Housing Market Report

Housing Market California

The state of California has been through a lot of recent. However, spring will arrive and with it comes an entirely new housing landscape.

Will the rising waters in the storage system cause a boom in tourism? Will the damage of the atmospheric river result in new investment? And will an economic soft landing bring the tech industry back in 2023?

So much bad news for the real estate sector, however, CAR’s December housing stats report for the state of California shows homes prices actually fell.

Yet January’s newest stats suggest a return to price support.  With the damage of flooding, coastal erosion, mudslides, trees falling, business closings, and more, we can only guess home prices would fall further given the costs of repair and recovery, at least in the first 6 months of this year.

The big picture view of economic growth in the fourth quarter is a positive one,” says Curt Long, NAFCU’s chief economist and VP of Research.

Q3 GDP was +3.2% from Q2 in California.  And BEA further reports that GDP grew 2.9% annualized in the fourth quarter of 2022, and that is better than prepandemic GDP levels.

With the FED stepping off the big rate hikes and inflation easing, we could see more construction and some increase in demand. Will the optimism result in more rental property construction?

California Buyers Still Can’t Afford Homes

The issue for California residential real estate remains the same. Poor affordability means that despite latent demand, buyers can’t afford the prices of homes in the Golden State. For that reason, many have left to find much cheaper homes in other states.  Unemployment will likely be on the rise along with lower business profitability (tech sector continues to lay off workers) which means fewer buyers are likely for 3 to 6 months.

The stronger consumer optimism is running against sticky inflation and a likelihood the FED can’t lower interest rates. But will that discourage buyers in California? Demand is always intense in CA. No other place offers what California has, and buyers today do seem to put lifestyle at the top of their list.

Tech layoffs in the Bay Area may result in more homes for sale and perhaps new rentals available.

Home sales in California rose 1.1% in December vs November, a welcome stat for Realtors and buyers. Home prices fell for the 4th consecutive month, down .4% from November to a new median price of $774,580. That price is also down 2.8% from last December.

Condo sales as shown below too, are well down with a big price drop too.

December and January Sales Stats Reports

CAR’s most recent market report shows sales growth is down 48% in January 2023 and sales are barely half of what they were in January 2022.

This chart from CAR shows clearly the dive in prices from their peaks. Homes above $5 million have suffered a precipitous decline in sales. Month to month SFR housing sales growth for January are down 37% from December.  Surprisingly, in January list price growth is back up again. And month-to-month new existing SFR median list price growth is up 8.2%.

The number of sales closing below listing price rose strongly from July but has now leveled off.

In the December Market Report

CAR mentions a trend of heading toward a market balance, yet home prices simply aren’t falling as expected. The FED is expecting to raise interest rates only slightly, and mortgage rates have actually slipped, so it should dash buyers expectations of lower home prices, and renters hopes for lower rent prices too.

C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine believes home prices will fall and this will also slow sales of homes, thus slowing a market recovery.

The significant retraction of buyer demand is resulting in rising inventories of houses. 13 counties report a triple digit increase in active listings in December vs 12 months previous. Days on market has risen from 12 days last year to 28 days giving California Realtors a tough task to sell.

Home Sales Grow

California mortgage rates remain above 6%, and given home prices are elevated, buyers must sit on the sidelines and wait for both to drop.  Mortgage payments have ballooned 50% year over year and combined with steep inflation, fewer buyers are able to handle the full cost of buying a home in California.

Housing inventory increased in 47 of 55 counties reporting. The median days to sell a home grew 4 days in November to 28 days in December.

The steepest declines in single family home prices month to month occurred in Contra Costa (-12.6%), NAPA (-19.1%), Santa Clara (-7.6%), Monterey (-5.4%), Humboldt )-12.8%) and Lassen county (-19.1%). Santa Barbara conversely saw prices jump almost 32% from November and San Bernardino saw rises of 6.7%).

San Francisco saw home prices raise 4.3% bucking the downward trend. There’s little doubt all counties in the North will see decreased sales and prices due to the atmospheric rain dump.

Home Inventory

Active listings showed a sharp growth vs October and is back up to prepandemic norms (3.3 months). New active listings dropped to 13,065 units, considerably lower than previous November’s. Active listings grew most strongly in Southern California, Bay Area and the Central Valley, almost double the numbers of 12 months ago.

CAR’s Realtor® sentiment for period ending Jan 21, 2023 reveals California Realtors® had more sales and listings and they are more optimistic about sales and listings.

Given the dire buying conditions, we could reasonably predict inventories will climb and sales drop faster throughout the winter.

And we might predict price declines will pick up pace given buyers have so many reasons to sit on the sidelines. More calls are coming in for a 20% drop in the housing market.

With the Fed facing difficulty slowing inflation (wages/unemployment rate) they may need to raise the rates more than the predicted 25 basis points to control it.  It means no breaks for mortgage buyers.

2023 C.A.R. President Jennifer Branchini believes the housing market bottom is in sight.  “While October’s sales and price results were weaker than what we’ve experienced in the past couple of years and could slow further in the upcoming off-season, the market bottom could be in sight.”

Forecast for Next Year?

C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine said “High inflationary pressures will keep mortgage rates elevated, which will reduce homebuyers’ purchasing power and depress housing affordability in the upcoming year. With borrowing costs remaining high in the next 12 months, a pull-back in sales and a downward adjustment in home prices are expected in 2023.”

Levine added, “Home prices will also moderate further over the next several months as interest rates remain elevated in the near term and seasonal factors come into play.”

CAR in its 2023 California Housing Market Forecast report, predicts a 7.2% drop existing single-family home sales in 2023.  It will fall to reach 333,450 sold unit units, down from their projected sales volume of 359,220 units this year, which is predicted to be 19.2% less than the 444,520 homes sold in 2021.

The median home price outlook is for a decline of 8.8% to $758,600 next year following a projected 5.7% growth this year to $831,460.

Yet another rate hike in November has sent mortgage applications to record lows.

The rental market however appears to be a different story from the home resales market. Rental property investors have a completely different opportunity to recover their costs (with well selected properties).

CAR Realtors Survey November

California Realtors polled in November are bleak about their prospects.  They report activity down, buyers seriously getting cold feet and optimism waning.

California Housing Consumer Sentiment Index

CAR’s housing consumer index fell 5 points to hit 65, with 85% of respondents saying it’s not a good time to buy.  96% have no intention to buy in the next 12 months which projects tougher selling conditions for sellers. Only 35% believe economic conditions will improve and 76% don’t believe interest rates will fall next year.

Hottest Cities in California

Californians Looking Elsewhere

California has the highest percentage of people looking to buy elsewhere.  California, New York, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Illinois were the top 5 states homebuyers searched to move from. The top 5 states homebuyers searched to move to were Florida, Texas, Arizona, Maryland, and South Carolina.

The combination of housing market downturn risk, rising interest rates, and inflation are making more Californian homeowners consider selling their property this fall. That selling intention is lessened by desires to get a comfortable price, having to make extreme relocation choices, and entering into a new, more expensive mortgage.

It’s perhaps the most difficult time for sellers to be able to sell their home.

Buyers in many states are still walking away from deals at a faster pace too given they can now walk away if they can’t get the right financing, don’t like inspection reports, and other reasons.  The desperate bidding war environment where they waived inspections, etc. has ended. According to Redfin, nationwide, buyers walked away from 15% of deals in August.

As layoffs in the corporate sector grow against fast rising mortgage rates, August and September’s housing market decline may worsen the October and December outlook.

 California Condo/Townhouse Prices Rise

Condo prices dropped steeply in NAPA (-31.9%), SF Bay Area (-3.4%), Santa Barbara (-22%), Fresno (-17%), and San Mateo (-7.9%) while prices rose in Monterey (+16.9%), Solano (+21.7%), and San Bernardino (+14.5%). This month’s stats don’t help to answer the much asked question in the past ten years about will prices drop?.

The forecast for landlords and the rental sector is a little better. Those rental managers who use a next generation  property management software are most likely to generate the best profitability in 2023. See more on the rental market forecast. Find the best rental properties in California.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgages did experience a reduction in growth rate, however with more Fed rate hikes expected, it should dampen enthusiasm and qualification for home loans for more buyers.

September Housing Stats for Major Metros

The Los Angeles Metro Area in September suffered a 1% drop in price or $7,430 on average on the sale of a single family houses to $742,570.  Sales in Metro LA fell 12.% from September and are down 40.8% from 12 months ago.

The Central Coast region saw its average price rise 1.9% or $17,500 while sales fell 22% vs September and were down 38.8% from 12 months ago.

The San Francisco Bay Area saw prices rise .5% to $1,250,500 while sales declined 3.4% vs September — down 26% year over year.

In San Francisco itself, home prices rose $42,500 or .2.6% vs September while sales increased 7.4%.

Orange County saw house prices fall $35,000 or 3.1% to$1,165,000, which is up 4% from one year ago. San Bernardino County saw house prices fall 3.1% or $15,000 to a new median of $480,000.  Riverside home prices stayed even at about $600,000 while sales declined 19.2% vs last month.

In San Diego County, homes prices rose $4,000 to $899,000, a 1.6% jump while sales fell 15.6% in October.

In Sacramento County, existing home prices fell 1.4% or ($7,500) in October, while sales grew 4.7% fell 19.2%.

California Exodus Pushing Prices up Elsewhere?

California is being blamed for fast rising housing prices in other states such as Utah and Idaho. An exodus of people and businesses might sound threatening but it may be that this state’s housing market is invincible. People want to live or rent in California.

There’s always buyers for California properties in any of its cities. If high taxes, regulations, fires, floods, inflation and high prices can’t scare buyers away, what could?

Looking for the best cities to buy a rental property and need to learn more about property management services? Get more insight and tips on the rental market on the ManageCasa Blog.


Calls for an economic recession and flat 2023 sales year would have most experts seeing reduced sales and prices in California which is seeing businesses and residents flee to more tax and cost friendly states such as Texas and Florida.

Inflation came in at 8.2% in September.  If energy prices rise this fall, it’s easy to predict stronger Fed rate hikes to slow inflation further so they can meet their 2% inflation rate goals. Some are hoping the Fed will capitulate and pivot to avoid further hikes.

California Rent Prices

11 California cities ranked as most expensive for renters out of top 70 in the US according to a new report from Zumper. Here are the mid July California rent price stats provided by

CAR stats show lower income Californians were hurt by the pandemic and aren’t participating in the recovery as yet. See more on the 2022 rental market forecast and the US rental market report.

California Rent Prices

Most CA city’s rent prices declined during the month, although not as fast as other US cities. California cities took 6 out of the top 10 rankings for top prices in the US. Given housing prices are so high, buyers are into the rental market firmly now.

Sales growth normally recedes in the fall months, but this fall season, the decline could be much steeper. Pending sales have been dropping even in the luxury home market. Pending sales of condos and townhomes have continued to drop.

California real estate is always a hot topic.  Find out more about rental property investment is wise and how  property management software is providing the foundation for profitable rental portfolios.

Read more on the San Francisco Market, San Diego market, and Los Angeles market.

Please note that CAR designates the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area as a 5- region that includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside , San Bernardino , and Ventura.  The Bay Area includes: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.  And the Inland Empire includes Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Is it a Good Time to Buy a Home in California?

According to C.A.R.’s monthly Consumer Housing Sentiment Index, in April, 59% of consumers said it was a good time to sell, up from 55% the previous. Only about 25% feel it is a good time to buy a home, unchanged from last year.

Certainly, the vaccinations will free up many older California residents perhaps to sell their homes at record prices.  However, homeowners may be very cautious about relinquishing their valuable property when moving is difficult and costly, and homes are very hard to find.  Without certain places to go, listings don’t grow as expected.

It’s absolutely the biggest seller’s market ever across California. And perhaps more so for the pandemic destination cities within the state.

The top challenge to the housing market in CA now as the coming end of pandemic stimulus payments to homeowners, renters, and small businesses.  The end of the eviction moratorium could throw a large number of homes onto the market as owners can’t meet their mortgage obligations.  The state’s unemployment rate improved to 7.9% in May but remains one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

Relocating to New Cities for Safety, Room and Improved Lifestyle

CAR’s forecast report shows the reasons people are relocating and buying, See some of that info below.

Sales and especially prices for condos in NAPA have rocketed (condo prices, see below, shot up almost 30% and sales rose 33% over February number). Condo prices in Shasta were up 81% over February and in Monterrey, were up 48%.

Although apartment rent prices are heading downward in the Bay Area as vacancy rates climb, other housing markets in the state are thriving. The demand is for single-family houses.  It may be that when the pandemic is over, both the big cities and the rural regions will have evolved considerably.

Home listings continue to plummet which means price pressures could be intense as stimulus money arrives and the recovery begins.  New funds would certainly help save landlords and the rental market, and support suburban housing markets around San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. See more on the Bay Area rental market.

Will California’s Home Prices Continue to Rise into 2022?

A lot of buyers are asking whether home prices will rise or fall?  Renters are wondering if rent prices will fall? High demand, low mortgage rates, and low inventory will likely skew homes and condo prices higher.  The trend is here and the return of buyers is here.  A number of factors are contributing to California’s positive sales stats:

  • desire to live away from the city in suburbs and rural regions and willingness top pay top dollar for homes
  • record-low mortgage rates
  • moving to regions (pandemic destination) that offer more room perhaps with an office or garden
  • wealthy buyers have the funds ready

Low rates and tight housing inventory are contributing factors to the statewide median price setting a new record high three months in a row from June to August. A change in the mix of sales is another variable that keeps pushing median prices higher, as sales growth of higher-priced properties continued to outpace their more affordable counterparts,” said C.A.R. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.

California Realtor’s Survey

The latest survey of Realtors shows fewer are withdrawing offer, more are listing new properties, and are not optimistic about sales or prices.

California Housing Market Forecast

C.A.R. Predicted More Home Sales and Higher Prices for 2021: Leslie Appleton-Young delivered her updated California housing market forecast for 2021.  She expected sales to continue to improve through 2021. The prediction is based on growing buyer demand that’s pushed California’s median price above $700,000 and low inventories that will cause price increases. As know now, sales have declined.

California’s weekly showings index rose to 182.3% higher than it was in September of 2019.  Mortgage rates have dropped back down and purchase applications rose 24.2% on an annual basis last week.

California Economic Forecast

Car predicts a J-shaped economic recovery extending over the next 12 months. Of course this trend will affect home prices in the coming 6 months.

Share the news and market insight on your blog!

This updated report covers important stats including home prices, sales, and recent home sales trends from CAR, NAR, DOT, St Louis Fed, NAHB, Statista, Zillow and more. For national home price tends see the US housing market.

The key story with Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Clara, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, etc. is the lack of listings.

See more on the US housing market, UK housing market, and Hawaii real estate market.  Find the best property management company near you.

Landlords, looking to evaluate and buy our property management software platform? Check out pricing and ask for a demo.

Join us for Apartmentalize 2023 in Atlanta Georgia on June 7th to 9th. See our full schedule of property management conferences and exhibitions for 2023.


Author: Gord Collins


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