Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 397,060 units in October, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said late Thursday.

October's sales figure was up 3.8% from the revised 382,550 level in September and down 7.9% compared with home sales in October 2017 of 431,070. October marked the third month in a row that sales were below 400,000, which hasn't occurred since February 2015.

"Home buyers continued to put their homeownership plans on hold in October and wait out the market," said 2019 C.A.R. President Jared Martin. "With mortgage rates at seven-year highs making homeownership more expensive and home prices beginning to flatten, this phenomenon will likely continue for the near term as buyers wait for further price adjustments and for interest rates to stabilize."

The statewide median home price fell to $572,000 in October. The October statewide median price was down 1.2% from $578,850 in September and up 4.7% from a revised $546,430 in October 2017.

"October's sales decline was not as severe as the double-digit drop experienced in September, but the continued pullback in sales suggests the market will continue to slow and likely soften further into 2019," said C.A.R. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. "Likewise, as home sales continue to soften, the median price, which was the lowest since March 2018, will also ease up," said Appleton-Young.

Other key points from C.A.R.'s October 2018 resale housing report include:

  • On a region-wide, non-seasonally adjusted basis, the Southern California region continued to lead the state's sales decline, falling 7.8% from a year ago. Orange, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties all experienced year-over-year, double-digit declines of 11.3%, 11.4%, and 13.2%, respectively. Sales in Los Angeles County declined 5.9% and were down 2.9% in Riverside County. Only Ventura County recorded a 1.1% increase from a year ago.
  • Sales for the San Francisco Bay Area as a whole decreased 3.0% from a year ago, while five of nine counties recorded annual sales increases. Napa and Sonoma counties posted strong year-over-year sales gains, primarily because sales fell significantly after the October 2017 wildfires that occurred in those areas. Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties also recorded annual sales increases.
  • Sales in the Central Valley region declined again in October, though at a smaller rate than the previous month. Home sales decreased 3.3% from a year ago with seven of 12 counties down on a year-over-year basis.
  • The Inland Empire also experienced an annual sales drop, falling 6.4% from a year ago. Riverside and San Bernardino counties posted annual sales declines of 2.9% and 11.4%, respectively.
  • Home prices in the Bay Area continued to climb, but the rate of appreciation has moderated since the first half of the year. The regional median price rose 7.9% from a year ago. Marin was the only county that posted a double-digit increase from a year ago, a clear sign that home prices are easing even in the most robust economic region in the state.
  • Statewide active listings rose for the seventh consecutive month after nearly three straight years of declines, increasing 28% from the previous year. October's listings increase was the largest in four years.
  • Active listings in the $500,000-$750,000 price range experienced the largest year-over-year gain (43.9%), followed by homes priced $750,000-$999,999 (40.1%). The sub-$200,000 market was the only price segment with a decline of 6.2% from last year.
  • The unsold inventory index, which is a ratio of inventory over sales, increased year-to-year for the seventh consecutive month in October from 3.0 months in October 2017 to 3.6 months in October 2018. The index measures the number of months it would take to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.
  • The median number of days it took to sell a California single-family home rose from 21 days in October 2017 to 26 days in October 2018.
  • C.A.R.'s statewide sales price-to-list price ratio* declined from a year ago at 98.9% in October 2017 to 98.1% in October 2018.
  • The average statewide price per square foot** for an existing, single-family home statewide was $282 in October 2018, up from $270 in October 2017.