Home sales in Shasta County jumped nearly 15 percent in 2011, reaching their highest level in four years, a sign that the market may be rebounding from its bottom.
“I think 2011 was our first year to kind of crawl from the bottom,” said Redding agent Brad Garbutt of Real Living Real Estate Professionals. “I think 2010 we will look back at what was the bottom because we are seeing an increase in sales activity, though prices are still a little bit soft.”
Sales of new and used homes in 2011 reached 1,996, a 14.5 percent increase from the 1,743 closed escrows a year ago, DataQuick Information Systems reported.
It was the busiest year for home sales since 2007, when there 2,108.
But home values in Shasta County tumbled for the fifth straight year as foreclosures and short sales continued to dominate the market in 2011. Roughly two-thirds of all sales last year were either foreclosures or short sales.
The median sales price in 2011 was $150,000, down from $171,000 in 2010 and the lowest since 2002’s $142,500, according to DataQuick. Shasta County’s annual median sales price peaked at $277,000 in 2006, a year when the region recorded 2,554 sales.
“Finally, the interest rates have started to sink in with buyers who are realizing the absolute price is not important. What is important is your monthly payment,” said Doug Juenke of For Sale By Owner Real Estate in Redding and president of the Shasta Association of Realtors. “At 4 percent (rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage), the monthly payment has spurred buyers to realize that to own a house is, in many cases, cheaper than to rent.”
Last year was capped by a strong December as home sales jumped nearly 18 percent over November to 187 closed escrows. The median sales price in December was $146,000, up from $140,000 in November, DataQuick said.
Over the last few months, buyers have been competing for a dwindling supply of homes on the market, especially in the $200,000-and-under price range.
On Monday, the Shasta Association of Realtors reported 935 homes for sale, a nearly 30 percent decline from the 1,294 homes on the market a year ago.
Garbutt noted that in 2008, when the market started its free-fall, there were roughly 2,500 homes for sale in Shasta County at one time as owners, sensing the inevitable, rushed to put their house on the market.
“I really think we have a very tight supply,” Garbutt said.
Juenke said the question is whether the inventory of homes for sale will remain low.
“Do we think the banks are going to maybe see an opportunity of this pent-up demand and start releasing some of that shadow inventory?” of foreclosures, Juenke said.
Kelly Gain Parker of Coldwell Banker C&C Properties in Redding said there were “a ton” of foreclosures coming on the market during the first half of 2011, but the pace slowed in the second half of the year.
“I think a lot of that foreclosure inventory dropped off, which meant I ended up getting a lot of multiple offers,” said Gain Parker, who deals almost exclusively in foreclosures. Many of her sales in 2011 were to first-time homebuyers.
Gain Parker isn’t certain what 2012 will bring, but she does think the foreclosure crisis is not over.
“I think this is a little bit of the calm before the next storm,” Gain Parker said of the potential next wave of foreclosures. “I don’t think we are over the foreclosures yet.”
The strong finish to 2011 Shasta County’s housing market experienced mirrored what happened across the country as U.S. sales in December reached their highest pace in nearly a year.
Sales of previously occupied homes rose 5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.61 million in December, the National Association of Realtors reported last week.
This story contains material from The Associated Press.
Shasta home sales by the numbers
Home sales in Shasta County:
December 2011: 187
November 2011: 159
October 2011: 163
September 2011: 190
August 2011: 196
July 2011: 166
June 2011: 193
May 2011: 170
April 2011: 180
March 2011: 163
February 2011: 111
January 2011: 118
December 2010: 164
Monthly median sales price in Shasta County:
December 2011: $146,000
November 2011: $140,000
October 2011: $150,000
September 2011: $163,500
August 2011: $152,500
July 2011: $145,000
June 2011: $155,000
May 2011: $148,000
April 2011: $148,000
March 2011: $147,500
February 2011: $161,000
January 2011: $142,250
December 2010: $158,500
Home sales in Shasta County since 2001, showing the year, number of sales and median price:
2001: 3,645, $122,500.2002: 3,974, $142,500.
2003: 3,848, $176,000.
2004: 3,996, $213,750.
2005: 3,912, $265,000.
2006: 2,554, $277,000.
2007: 2,108, $265,000.
2008: 1,772, $225,000.
2009: 1,781, $190,000.
2010: 1,743, $171,000.
2011: 1,996, $150,000.
SOURCE: DataQuick Information Systems.
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