October 30, 2012 (Jeff Alan)

Monthly sales of existing single-family homes and condominiums fell for the third time in the last four months in the San Francisco Bay area during September according to real estate information provider DataQuick while home prices improved year-over-year for the sixth consecutive month.

A total of 6,850 new and resale homes were sold in September 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 20.2 percent lower than the 8,579 home sales in August but was still 1.5 percent higher than the 6,749 sales posted in September of 2011. Year-over-year home sales have improved for 15 consecutive months.

Sales for the month were expected to be lower because September only had 19 business days compared to a normal month that typically has 21 or 22 business days. However, on a daily basis, homes sales were still 7.7 percent lower than last month.

Home sales typically decline about 11.1 percent from August to September in the Bay area with last month’s home sales 20.1 percent below their historical average.

Cash buyers accounted for 28.4 percent of the homes purchased for the month, up from 27.9 percent in August and they paid a median price of $300,000 for the homes they purchased, up from $295,000 the previous month.

Absentee buyers, usually investors and vacation home buyers, accounted for 24.1 percent of all sales, up from 22.8 percent in August, paying a median price of $285,000 for the homes they purchased, up from $280,000 the previous month.

The overall median sales price for new and resale homes and condos in September increased 4.6 percent to $429,000, up from $410,000 in August. The median price was 17.5 percent higher than in September of 2011, when the median price stood at $365,000. It was the sixth 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 September 2009, while the peak median price was $665,000 in September/September 2007.

John Walsh, president of DataQuick, stated, “It’s obvious that a lot of fence-sitters are getting active. We’re probably past that most attractive of mathematical sweet spots, the one that combines low interest rates and low prices. In other words, price increases the past few months outweigh mortgage rate declines. Potential buyers are also encountering fewer homes for sale. Additionally, going through today’s qualification process for a mortgage is still a real grind.”

Distressed home sales accounted for 37.4 percent of the Bay Area’s re-sale market last month, down slightly from a revised 37.5 percent in August. Foreclosure re-sales accounted for 13.9 percent of all existing home sales in September, down from 14.5 percent in August, while short sales made up about 23.5 percent of the Bay Area’s existing home sales last month, up from 23.0 percent in August.

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