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published on January 18, 2022 - 10:41 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Central Valley home prices started returning back to Earth for the winter according to a pair of key metrics released Tuesday.

The median sold price of homes in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare fell in December compared to the prior month, but they remained well above what they were in December 2020, according to new data from the California Association of Realtors.

Real estate information website RealtyHop also released its January affordability index, finding that Fresno is the 45th most affordable market out of the 100 largest US cities this month, becoming slightly more affordable than when it ranked No. 44 in January 2021.

Fresno’s median sold home price for December was $385,000, down 0.3% from November but 18.3% above the $325,500 median price from December 2020. Sales activity was up 2.3% on a monthly basis, but was down 3% from a year ago.

Kings County had a median sold price of $350,000, down 1% from the month before but up 17.1% from a year ago. Sales activity was down 0.9% on the month and up 7% for the year.

Madera County’s median sold price was $357,000, down a whopping 9% compared to November but up 6.6% from last year. Sales activity for December was up 19.6% for the month but down 9.8% on an annual basis.

Tulare County had a median sale price of $320,000, down 4.5% from November but up 8.5% from last year. Sales activity declined on the monthly and yearly basis — down 4% and 17.1%, respectively.

California as a whole tracked with the Central Valley, recording a sales decline of 5.4% on a monthly basis. Annual sales also fell by 15.7% — unlike most of the Central Valley. The statewide median home price rose 1.8% in December compared to November and was also up 11% from last year.

“Despite signs of moderating in the second half of the year, California’s housing market continued to outperform last year’s level and remained competitive even as home prices rose at a double-digit pace — a testament to the imbalance of high demand and not enough homes on the market for sale,” said 2022 C.A.R. President Otto Catrina, a Bay Area real estate broker and Realtor. “For the year as a whole, the market turned in its best performance in more than a decade, as buyers took advantage of historically low interest rates and continued to value the benefits of homeownership amid another year of the pandemic.”

It may be a different ballgame this year, according to C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine.

“However, with COVID cases surging and inventory constraints remaining an issue, the housing market will see headwinds of ongoing high inflation, which will put pressure on the Fed to raise rates sooner than previously expected. These factors will increase the cost of borrowing and put more affordability burden on potential homebuyers who want to purchase in 2022,” Levine said.

While affordability improved — as reflected by the RealtyHop ranking for Fresno — it wasn’t by much. For January, Fresno’s projected median household income was $55,781, while the median home price $315,000, according to RealtyHop data. With estimated monthly mortgage and taxes coming in at $1511, the share of income devoted to homeownership was 32.52% — down 3.08% compared to the month prior.

The least affordable city was New York for the seventh month in a row, with New York families needing to set aside 78.39% of their annual income toward mortgage payments and property taxes. Rounding out the top three least affordable places were Miami and Los Angeles.

The most affordable market was Wichita, Kansas, where homeownership expenses make up 15.55% of household median income. Detroit, Michigan was No. 2 and Fort Wayne, Indiana was No. 3.



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