Real Estate

Wednesday, Jun 05 2013 12:55 PM

Inventory rises but home market continues recovery

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BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

New data show the local housing market continued its recovery last month even as the total supply of single-family homes for sale registered a noticeable increase.

The median price of Bakersfield homes sold in May hit $188,000, 4.2 percent above April's median and 36.7 percent over that of May 2012, according to a monthly report by local appraiser Gary Crabtree. (The median is the point at which half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.)

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The number of homes listed for sale rose by 17.6 percent over April's total to reach 515, Crabtree reported. That's good for Realtors, who have been frustrated by a shortage of properties to sell. At the same time, a trend of growing inventory could moderate recent upward pressure on prices.

In another sign that the market's recovery could be slowing a tad, the average time it takes to go through the existing supply of homes for sale increased in May by 11.7 percent to slightly less than one month.

But, as Crabtree noted, that measure of buyer demand "still remains (strong) with less than one month's unsold inventory, which is a critical index that is driving prices upward."

Using a 12-month "running average" of local home sale prices, he estimated that Bakersfield's home prices reached about 20 percent on an annualized basis in May. That was an improvement of about 3 percent from the month before; it was nearly 19 percent better than a year prior.

Kern County foreclosures, which in recent years have been a significant factor driving local supply and investment, dropped by more than 18 percent in May to settle at 135. That was about 54 percent below May 2012's total.

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