Bay Area Home Sales Hit Four-Year High

Home sales in the San Francisco Bay area rose last month to the highest level for a July in four years, as deals above $500,000 continued to accelerate, MDA DataQuick reports. A total of 8,771 new and resale houses and condos sold in the nine-county Bay Area – up 1.5% from 8,664 in June.

The median sale price climbed above the prior month for the fourth consecutive month, lifted by the combination of more high-end transactions and fewer sales of lower-cost, lender-owned foreclosures.

The median price paid for a home in the nine-county region rose to $395,000, up 12.2% from $352,000 in June, but down 16% from $470,000 in July 2008.

The median's $43,000 gain between June and July was mainly the result of a shift toward a greater portion of sales occurring in higher-priced neighborhoods. More distress in high-end areas has led to more motivated sellers, MDA DataQuick says.

Loans above $417,000 accounted for 30% of Bay Area home sales last month – the highest percentage since they represented 31.9% of sales in August 2008.

"The high end of the market finally has a pulse, and that has led to a swift rise in the median sale price," says John Walsh, president of MDA DataQuick.

As high-end sales have taken off in recent months, sales of foreclosures in less-expensive inland areas have tapered off. Last month, 34.2% of the Bay Area homes that resold were foreclosure resales – homes resold in July that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months.

Last month's foreclosure resale level was the lowest since it was 33.3% in July 2008. Foreclosure resales peaked at 52% of all Bay Area resales last February.

The drying up of the discounted foreclosures helps explain why July sales of sub-$300,000 existing single-family houses dropped to 37.8% of house resales. That was down from a high this year of 48.9% of resales in March.

"Evidence is mounting that in some areas we've approached at least a soft bottom for home prices," Walsh adds. "But we continue to view that possibility with an abundance of caution, given all of the uncertainty over future foreclosure inventories and ongoing job cuts."



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