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California Market a tipping-point phenomenon

June 22, 2009

Home sales in the hard-hit California market have recently reached levels that are nearly twice as high compared to when they were in the trough.

Evidently the California housing market is experiencing a tipping-point phenomenon: potential buyers suddenly wanting to enter the market all at once. People have waited and waited for the best time to enter the market. Why buy now if prices will be lower later? After having tumbled from unsustainable heights, home prices there are highly attractive and within budget for many fence-sitters. So when some buyers started to enter the market, other bystanders just couldn’t let others take advantage of the great buying opportunity. Many are now fighting to jump into the market. Multiple-bidding on lower-priced homes are said to be common in California. People who “lose out” during a bidding war don’t simply go home and wipe away their tears — they come back with almost vengeance-like determination and hope their next bid will be the highest. What does that mean for home prices? Though the year-over-year price measurement will continue to show declines in California, probably for the remainder of the year, the month-to-month price trends will more likely be on an upswing. In short, people who buy in June 2009 will likely see a price gain in June 2010.

By Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, NAR Research

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