August 2013 California single-family residences  and condominium  transactions (distressed and non-distressed) fell 1.8 percent from July but gained 1.5 percent in the past 12 months (y-o-y). A 7.3 percent monthly drop in transactions of distressed properties drove the decline in August sales.

Although the California real estate market continues to recover, large numbers of homeowners are “underwater” and remain a drag on the market. In August, 2.0 million, or 29 percent, of California’s 6.8 million homeowners with a mortgage are underwater or barely-above-water and are effectively shut out of the California real estate market.

The August median sale price of a California home fell 1.4 percent to 360K from 365K in July, the first monthly decline since January, and suggests that buyers are beginning to push back on the aggressive price increases that sellers have been demanding.

Cash sales as a percent of total sales continue to trend lower. In August 2013, cash sales represented 24.0 percent of total sales, down 2.1 percentage points from 26.1 percent in July.  Despite recent declines, from a historic perspective, cash sales remain high and are an important part of the real estate marketplace

August 2013 investor purchases fell 13.4 percent from July.  In general, investor purchases have been gradually trending lower since late last year because rising prices reduce return-on-investment.

As the California real estate market recovery continues, August foreclosure activity appears to have bottomed in May, and is now trending sideways. August foreclosure sales fell 5.5 percent from July.  Meanwhile, Notices of Default (NODs) in California dipped 0.7% and Notices of Trustee Sale (NTS) were up 3.1 percent for the month.

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