CAR: "California home sales stumble into spring home buying season"

The CAR reported: California home sales stumble into spring home buying season as median price sets another record

California home sales remained muted entering the spring homebuying season as soft buyer demand continues to challenge the market, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 396,760 units in April, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide annualized sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2019 if sales maintained the April pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

April’s sales figure was down 0.1 percent from the 397,210 level in March and down 4.8 percent from home sales in April 2018 of 416,750. Sales remained below the 400,000 level for the ninth consecutive month and have fallen on a year-over-year basis for a full year.

“Weak buyer demand, largely prompted by elevated home prices, is playing a role in the softening housing market,” said C.A.R. President Jared Martin. “However, with low interest rates, cooling competition and an increase in homes to choose from, buyers can take advantage of a more balanced housing market.”

Encouragingly, the growth in active listings from the year prior decelerated for the fourth straight month. The number of homes available for sale increased only 10.8 percent from last April, but still enough to provide a much-needed supply of homes for sale. The growth in active listings has fallen from more than 30 percent at the end of 2018 suggesting that the market is becoming more balanced, rather than experiencing a full-scale exodus of sellers in California.

The Unsold Inventory Index (UII), which is a ratio of inventory over sales, dipped on a month-to-month basis but edged up on a year-over-year basis. The Unsold Inventory Index was 3.4 months in April, down from 3.6 months in March but up from 3.2 months in April 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 jump in the UII from a year ago can be attributed to the moderate sales decline and the sharp increase in active listings.
emphasis added

Here is some inventory data from the NAR and CAR (ht Tom Lawler).   Note that the YoY increase has been slowing in both California and Nationally.

YOY % Change, Existing SF Homes for Sale
  NAR
(National)
CAR
(California)
Sep-17 -8.4% -11.2%
Oct-17 -10.4% -11.5%
Nov-17 -9.7% -11.5%
Dec-17 -11.5% -12.0%
Jan-18 -9.5% -6.6%
Feb-18 -8.6% -1.3%
Mar-18 -7.2% -1.0%
Apr-18 -6.3% 1.9%
May-18 -5.1 8.3%
Jun-18 -0.5% 8.1%
Jul-18 0.0% 11.9%
Aug-18 2.1% 17.2%
Sep-18 1.1% 20.4%
Oct-18 2.8% 28%
Nov-18 4.2% 31%
Dec-18 4.8% 30.6%
Jan-19 4.6% 27%
Feb-19 3.2% 19.2%
Mar-19 2.4% 13.4%
Apr-19 NA 10.8%