Home/Mortgages/Bay Area January Home Sales Highest in Five Years

February 21, 2012 (Jeff Alan)

Monthly home sales followed seasonal trends and declined in the Bay Area in January but were still at their highest level in five years while home prices continued to slide as a record percentage of sales to investors pushed home prices even lower according to real estate information provider DataQuick.

A total of 5,479 new and resale homes were sold in January 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 26.9 percent lower than the 7,494 home sales in December but still 10.3 percent higher than the 4,966 sales posted in January of 2011.

Home sales typically decline 28.0 percent from December to January in the Bay area with sales varying from a low of 3,586 in 2008 to a high of 8,298 in 2005 with a monthly average of 8,643 sales.

John Walsh, president of DataQuick, stated, “While it’s clear prices have edged lower in some areas recently, last month’s Bay Area median of just $326,000 is a reflection of how skewed the market has become toward distressed, lower-cost properties. The higher-end sales have slowed in recent months as many struggle to qualify for loans and others just sit tight. This is also the time of year that we caution people not to try to read too much into the statistics. The winter numbers are based on a smaller pool of buyers and they haven’t proved very predictive.”

The median sales price for new and resale homes and condos in January fell 3.5 percent to $326,000, down from $335,500 in December. The median price was 3.8 percent lower than in January of 2011, when the median price stood at $338,000. It was the 16th consecutive month that home prices have declined year-over-year.

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

Distressed home sales accounted for a near record 51.9 percent of the Bay Area’s re-sale market last month, up from a revised 48.5 percent in December. Foreclosure re-sales accounted for 28.0 percent of all existing home sales in January, up from a revised 27.8 percent in December, while short sales made up about 23.9 percent of the Bay Area’s existing homes sales last month, up from a revised 20.7 percent in December.

Foreclosure re-sales peaked at 52.0 percent in February 2009 while the rate of foreclosure re-sales has been about ten percent over the last 15 years.

Cash buyers accounted for 30.0 percent of the homes sold for the month, up from a revised 27.2 percent in December, paying a median price of $220,000 for their purchases. The record for cash purchases is 30.5 percent, reached in February of 2011.

Absentee buyers, usually investors and vacation home buyers, accounted for a record 25.4 percent of all sales, up from 23.8 percent in December, paying a median price of $220,000 for the homes they purchased.

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