California pending home sales up for third straight month, highest level in nearly three years

March pending home sales index

LOS ANGELES (April 24) – California pending home sales posted higher for the third consecutive month in March, rising from both the previous month and year, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported today.  Additionally, the share of distressed sales dropped for the second consecutive month, as equity sales typically increase with the start of the spring home buying season.

Pending home sales:

C.A.R.’s Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)* rose from a revised 126.5 in February to 143.7 in March, based on signed contracts.  The March 2012 index was the highest since April 2009, when the PHSI was 146.9.  The index also was up from the 128.9 index recorded in March 2011, marking the eleventh consecutive month that pending sales were higher than the previous year.  Pending home sales are forward-looking indicators of future home sales activity, providing information on the future direction of the market.

Distressed housing market data:

• The share of equity sales – or non-distressed property sales – compared to total sales increased in March to 55.4, up from 51.1 percent in February.  Equity sales made up 50.2 percent of all sales in March 2011.
• Meanwhile, the total share of all distressed property types sold statewide decreased in March to 44.6 percent, down from February’s 48.9 percent and from 49.8 percent in March 2011.
• The share of short sales was down again in March.  Of the distressed properties sold statewide in March, 21.1 percent were short sales, down from February’s share of 23 percent but up from last March’s share of 20.1 percent.
• The share of REO sales also declined in March to 23.1 percent, down from February’s 25.2 percent and down from the 29.4 percent recorded in March 2011.


• View a chart of closed housing sales in March by sales type.
• View a chart of pending sales compared with closed sales.
• View a chart of the historical trend in the share of equity sales compared with distressed sales.
• View a chart of housing supply for REOs, short sales, and equity sales in March.
Share of Distressed Sales to Total Sales

Single-family Distressed Home Sales by Select Counties
(Percent of total sales)

*Note:  C.A.R.’s pending sales information is generated from a survey of more than 70 associations of REALTORS® and MLSs throughout the state.  Pending home sales are forward-looking indicators of future home sales activity, offering solid information on future changes in the direction of the market.  A sale is listed as pending after a seller has accepted a sales contract on a property.  The majority of pending home sales usually becomes closed sales transactions one to two months later.  The year 2008 was used as the benchmark for the Pending Homes Sales Index.  An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2008.

Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 100 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® ( is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with 155,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.

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