The California Association of Realtors reported that the spike in interest rates in June prompted home buyers to delay escrow closings in hopes that rates would fall back.
"As buyers recognized rates had stabilized, they moved forward to close escrow, which lifted July's sales from both the previous month and year," said CAR President Don Faught of Alain Pinel Realty in Pleasanton.
Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 443,520 units in July, according to information collected by CAR from more than 90 local Realtor associations and MLSs statewide. Sales in July were up 7% from a revised 414,670 in June and up 1.5% from a revised 436,870 in July 2012.
The year-to-year sales increase was the first since December 2012, following six consecutive months of declines.
The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2013 if sales maintained the July pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.
The statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home inched up 1.2% from June's median price of $428,620 to $433,760 in July. July's price was 29.8% higher than the revised $334,220 recorded in July 2012, marking 17 straight months of annual price increases and the 13th consecutive month of double-digit annual gains. The median sales price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling as well as a general change in values.
"A constrained supply of homes over the past year has fueled robust home price increases, particularly in the coastal regions," said CAR Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.
"Looking ahead, we should continue to see strong price growth but at a less accelerated pace than what we've experienced over the past year," she added. "Inventory levels are starting to build in some areas as price gains free up previously underwater homes and encourage homeowners reluctant to list because of the scarcity of homes to purchase."
Other key facts of CAR's July 2013 resale housing report include that the available supply of existing, single-family detached homes for sale held steady in July at 2.9 months, unchanged from June's Unsold Inventory Index. The index was 3.5 months in July 2012. The index indicates the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate. A six- to seven-month supply is considered typical in a normal market.
Other factors included:
The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home also held fairly steady at 27.8 days in July, compared to 27.7 days in June but was down from a revised 43.2 days in July 2012.
Mortgage rates ticked up in July, with the 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaging 4.37%, up from 4.07% in June 2013 and up from 3.55% in July 2012, according to Freddie Mac.
Adjustable-mortgage interest rates in July averaged 2.66%, up from 2.60 in June but down from 2.69% in July 2012.