December 15, 2011 (Jeff Alan)

Monthly sales of new and existing homes in the San Francisco Bay area declined slightly in November, but remained above year ago levels, while home prices improved during the month according to real estate information provider DataQuick.

A total of 6,317 new and resale homes were sold in November 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 2.0 percent lower than the 6,444 home sales in October but 3.4 percent higher than the 6,111 sales posted in November of 2010.

Home sales typically fall 7.7 percent from October to November in the Bay area with sales varying from a low of 5,127 in 2007 to a high of 11,906 in 2004 with a monthly average of 7,897 sales.

John Walsh, president of DataQuick, stated, “These days, buyers and sellers have to contend with two sets of problems, which sometimes play into each other and sometimes conflict with each other. The first is the lousy economy and the opportunities it presents, for better or worse. The second is the dysfunctional mortgage finance system. Interest rates may be at record lows, but the types of mortgages that are available have been drastically reduced and qualifying is a true grind. This creates uncertainty. Many potential buyers and sellers appear to be in a frame of mind that says, ‘when in doubt, don’t.’”

The median sales price for new and resale homes and condos in November rose to $363,500, an increase of 3.9 percent from the median price of $350,000 in October. The median price was still 4.3 percent lower than in November of 2010 when the median price was $380,000. It was the fourteenth straight 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 47.8 percent of the Bay Area’s re-sale market last month, up from 45.4 percent in October. Foreclosure re-sales accounted for 26.5 percent of all existing home sales in November, up from 25.3 percent in October, while short sales made up about 21.3 percent of the Bay Area’s existing homes sales last month, up from 20.1 percent in October.

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 27.9 percent of the homes sold for the month, down from 28.7 percent in October, paying a median price of $240,000 for their purchases. Absentee buyers accounted for 22.6 percent of all sales, up from 22.4 percent in October, also paying a median price of $240,000 for the homes they purchased.

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