Real Estate

Thursday, Dec 06 2012 03:47 PM

Report: Housing recovery continues despite winter slump

BY REBECCA KHEEL Californian staff writer rkheel@bakersfield.com

The housing market in Bakersfield is entering a typical winter slump, but all signs point to a continued recovery, according to November's Preliminary Crabtree Report, a monthly gauge of the local housing market.

"Nobody wants to sell during the holidays," said Gary Crabtree, an appraiser with Affiliated Appraisers who prepares the report. "And nobody's going to want to buy during the holidays, either."

As such, some gains from October, like median home price, are back down to their September levels. But numbers across the board point to a stronger housing market than one year ago.

From October to November, median home price dropped 3.2 percent from $155,000 to $150,000. Demand, measured by closed sales, is also down 17.4 percent from 464 to 562. And supply, measured in active listings, was down from 604 to 601.

But all that is better than one year ago. In November 2011, median price was $134,320. Also at that time, supply was 1,079 while demand was only 742.

Median price is now similar to that of February 2004, before the housing boom and subsequent bust, Crabtree said.

"This is about as normal as we've seen in a long time," he said.

More of an indication of a recovery comes from a drop in foreclosures and REO, or real estate owned, saturation rates, Crabtree said. Month over month, foreclosures are down 14.8 percent from 297 to 253. And year over year, they are down 22.1 percent from 325 to 253.

REOs, which are a type of foreclosure, were up from October, but are significantly down from one year ago. In November, 14.1 percent of all home sales were REOs, up from 13 percent the previous month. But compared to November 2011, there was a 55.9 percent drop in REOs.

Construction is also picking up, Crabtree said. In 2012, there have been an average of 86 building permits issued per month, up from 48 per month last year.

"We have plenty of lots that are vacant and ready to build on," he said.

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