March 1st, 2010 11:28 AM by Lehel S.
Nearly 70 percent of California homesellers who sold their homes in 2009 sold them because they couldn't pay their mortgages.
They also sold them for an average of $21,000 less than their initial asking price, according to a report released Thursday.
The "2009-10 Survey of California Home Sellers" found that the housing market's crash has continued to make lenders tight on loans as homeowners see their home values dry up, according to Steve Goddard, president of the California Association of Realtors, which compiled the survey.
That left sellers "with little equity and difficulty in qualifying for a refinance," he said in a statement.
As that equity leaked, dipping home values combined with rising unemployment and reset adjustable-rate mortgages forced sellers to sell for an average of $20,958 less than the original asking price and a median loss of $32,315.
"Absolutely, it's true, we were over 50 percent short sales," said Marty Rodriguez, a Glendora Realtor. "This can't get better until we get rid of all these bad loans."
The reasons for selling were tied to changes in family and employment status that stemmed from a housing crash and recession that started more than two years ago. For instance, 30 percent of sellers in 2009 cited difficulty meeting mortgage obligations. Another 18 percent said they sold because they lost their jobs, and 15 percent said they sold because their mortgage payment increased.
In contrast, CAR reported, in 2008 1-in-5 sellers - or 20 percent - cited the ability to meet their mortgage obligation and 11 percent sold because they were having financial troubles.
The ability to finance a home loomed large in the survey. Nearly three-fourths of sellers reported a lack of confidence in securing a home loan as a concern, a 54 percent increase from 2008.
And even as they sold homes for less than they originally asked, nearly 70 percent of sellers said the buyer they found could not get an acceptable mortgage.
Locally, the CAR numbers are playing themselves out, Rodriguez said.
In Covina, where 297 homes have sold since September 2009, many homes priced below $500,000 sold for less than asked.
For instance, a one-story, four-bedroom home on East Chester Road with a two-car garage sold for $350,000 - $29,900 less than what the original owner originally asked.
Even though home prices have gone up over the last few months, Rodriguez said,they are not rising fast enough for sellers to hold on.
Still, Goddard said the market for sellers is stabilizing a bit as home investors continue to drive up prices and the market.
"They are causing multiple offers on properties," Goddard said. "Owners can feel comfortable they are not in jeopardy of going in the wrong direction when they are buying a house right now."