This may be the "perfect storm" season for real estate, as average home sale prices are up locally and across the state, giving sellers a reason to celebrate, and buyers can still take advantage of low interest rates. These market conditions have resulted in increases in sales and price across California. Closer to home, however, a lack of inventory makes for a more competitive market for those looking to buy.
The Associated Press reported that homes across the state notched increases in sales and price in March, hitting a $415,000 median last reached during 2015's strong summer market. The statewide median price was up 5.1 percent from the previous March, according to research firm CoreLogic Inc., and prices have risen from year-ago levels for 49 straight months.
The firm also reported that 38,215 new and existing houses and condos closed escrow in March, up 2.3 percent from the previous year. It's the highest for a March in three years, but still below the historic average of about 45,000 for the month.
Sales were up more than 30 percent from February, which is expected as March traditionally launches the home buying and selling season. The number of homes available tends to hit its peak by Memorial Day.
In Turlock, home prices went from a median of $268,000 12 months ago to $288,000 this month. The median price increased 8.7 percent over the last month. However, there was an average of 120 homes listed each month for the past four months, compared to an average of 170 on the market six months ago.
"Personally, we've found that if a home is priced right it will sell in the first 20 to 30 days, if not faster," said Turlock Realtor Scott Snyder, broker/owner of Aspire Home Real Estate.
Snyder said there are many buyers in the Turlock market, making it significantly more competitive.
"Turlock, for a variety of reasons, has gained the attention of being the gem of the Valley...we definitely are one of the stronger communities in interest and desirability," he said.
While sales are up in most areas of the state, the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area saw sales slip 2.9 percent to 6,754 and the 1.4 percent increase in median price to $643,250 was the smallest gain in four years.
"This suggests that despite the improved economy and still-low mortgage rates, many would-be buyers continue to face hurdles such as waning affordability, moderately tight credit and a relatively slim inventory of homes for sale in many communities," said Andrew LePage, a research analyst with CoreLogic.
While Bay Area residents have been known to move to the Central Valley in search of cheaper home prices, that's not necessarily what is driving the competitive Turlock market.
"I have seen some Bay Area folks looking for value, but the majority of buyers are local folks looking to move from home to home in Turlock or from a 30-mile radius," said Snyder.
A $415,000 statewide median sale price was last reached in June and July of 2015. It's also the highest median since November 2007.
California's peak median price was $487,000 in May 2007.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.