Home prices rose 5 percent in December and sales were up 0.8 percent from November, the California Association of Realtors reported today.
"A rush to complete sales of higher-priced homes by the end of the year to avoid an expected increase in capital gains due to the 'fiscal cliff' pushed up sales of homes priced $500,000 and above by nearly 42 percent from December 2011," said Don Faught, president of Los Angeles-based CAR.
The statewide median price of a single-family home climbed from $349,300 in November to $366,930 in December and was up 27 percent over the past year.
According to CAR, the price increase was largely due to more higher- priced properties on the market, while inventory constraints continued to limit sales of lower-priced homes. Price increases are not expected to continue at a high pace into 2013, according to CAR analysts.
"The positive fundamentals in the housing sector continued to attract potential homeowners and investors, which resulted in strong housing sales in the fourth quarter. Sales for 2012 rose 5.4 percent, reaching 525,120 for the year as a whole, slightly above our projection," said Leslie Appleton-Young, CAR's vice president and chief economist.
"With sales in the higher-end market remaining strong throughout the year, the price gain at the state level surpassed our expectations, increasing 11.6 percent from $286,040 in 2011 to a preliminary $319,340 in 2012."