September 26, 2012 (Jeff Alan)

Monthly sales of existing single-family homes and condominiums in the San Francisco Bay area eeked out a small gain in August, ending a two month slide according to real estate information provider DataQuick while home prices remained above last year’s levels.

A total of 8,579 new and resale homes were sold in August in the nine county Bay Area, which includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano and Sonoma Counties. That was a mere 118 sales higher than the 8,461 home sales in July and 14.2 percent higher than the 7,513 sales posted in August of 2011. Year-over-year home sales have improved for 14 consecutive months.

Home sales typically increase about 2.8 percent from July to August in the Bay area with last month’s home sales 11.0 percent below their historical average.

Cash buyers accounted for 28.0 percent of the homes purchased for the month, up from 27.6 percent in July and they paid a median price of $273,250 for the homes they purchased, up from $270,000 the previous month.

Absentee buyers, usually investors and vacation home buyers, accounted for 23.0 percent of all sales, up from 22.6 percent in July, paying a median price of $264,500 for the homes they purchased, down from $250,000 the previous month.

The overall median sales price for new and resale homes and condos in August fell 2.6 percent to $410,000, down from $421,000 in July. The median price was 10.8 percent higher than in August of 2011, when the median price stood at $370,000. It was the fifth consecutive month that year-over-year home prices have improved in the area following 19 straight months of declines.

By comparison, the lowest median price posted during the current real estate cycle was $290,000 in August 2009, while the peak median price was $665,000 in August/August 2007.

John Walsh, president of DataQuick, stated, “Most economists agree that the housing market is off bottom. But there’s a big gap between the market being ‘off bottom’ and being normal, which it’s not. The single biggest bottleneck is still the dysfunctional mortgage lending market. It’ll be interesting to see how yesterday’s announcement that the Fed is going to buy mortgage-backed securities plays out.”

Distressed home sales accounted for 33.8 percent of the Bay Area’s re-sale market last month, down from a revised 34.0 percent in July. Foreclosure re-sales accounted for 14.9 percent of all existing home sales in August, down from 15.1 percent in July, while short sales made up about 18.9 percent of the Bay Area’s existing home sales last month, which was unchanged July.

Tags: Bay Area real estate, DataQuick, home sales, home prices, spring selling season, median sales price, new homes, re-sale homes