Sacramento County’s median home price held steady in December at about $240,000, where it’s been stuck since midsummer after a big run-up in prices last spring, according to DataQuick.
But the number of homes sold in the county last month was the lowest for any December in six years, the San Diego-based real estate information said Wednesday.
There were 1,696 houses and condominiums sold countywide in December, including new and resale homes. That was the lowest figure since the days of the housing collapse when only 1,372 houses sold in December 2007.
Last month’s sales were about 20 percent below Sacramento’s historical average for December, DataQuick reported.
The reasons for the steady prices but low sales are a constrained supply of homes for sale, investors leaving the market, and higher prices and interest rates undermining affordability, said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage.
“Investors are still out there but in smaller numbers,” LePage said. “Prices are up 20 percent in a lot of markets. Rates are up a percentage point since the spring. But mainly there aren’t enough homes to meet demand.”
It was a similar story in Southern California and the Bay Area, where sales figures were also the lowest for any December since 2007, LePage said.
“It’s the same statewide,” he said. “There’s a very thin inventory of homes on the market.”
In Sacramento, the drop in sales volume was not uniform. Sales of homes for under $200,000 were down by 48 percent in December compared with the same month last year. Yet sales of homes from $300,000 to $800,000 were up 45 percent, LePage said.
Part of the reason is that rising home prices pushed many homes above $200,000, but it had more to do with investors cutting back their buying as prices rose, he said.
Absentee buyers, generally landlords, bought about 30 percent of houses in Sacramento County in December, down from 44 percent a year ago, LePage said. Cash buyers fell from 42 percent in December 2012 to 26 percent last month.
“Investors are still out there but in smaller numbers,” he said. “They’re still above average. It’s not like they’ve gone home.”
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