October 18, 2011 (Jeff Alan)

New and existing home sales and prices followed traditional seasonal patterns in the Bay Area by declining as expected in September, but remaining above year ago levels according to real estate information provider DataQuick.

A total of 6,749 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 10.2 percent lower than the 7,513 sales in August but 6.6 percent higher than the 6,334 sales posted in September of 2010.

The housing market typically declines from August to September as the market transitions from the busy summer selling season to the fall. Home sales in the Bay Area were 21.9 percent below the historic September average of 8,644 homes sold. The lowest amount of homes sold in the Bay Area in September since 1988 was 5,104 in 2007, while the highest amount of homes sold was 13,343 in 2003.

“As interesting as today’s market is, what’s more interesting is what’s not happening. While there has been a lot of talk about ‘shadow supply,’ especially distressed properties that haven’t been put on the market, demand continues to accumulate. Empty-nesters want something smaller, growing families want something bigger. People still die, they get married, retire – all of this generates demand. And only a fraction of that demand is being met in today’s market,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

The median price for new and resale homes and condos declined 1.4 percent to $365,000 in September compared to $370,000 in August. The median price was down 7.6 percent from $395,000 in September of 2010, the twelfth straight month that year-over-year home prices have dropped.

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 made up 45.7 percent of the Bay Area’s re-sale market last month, up from 45.0 percent in August, with foreclosure re-sales accounting for 25.6 percent of all existing home sales in September, down from a revised 25.7 percent in August, while short sales made up about 20.1 percent of the Bay Area’s existing homes sales last month, up from 18.6 percent in August.

Foreclosure re-sales peaked at 52.0 percent in February 2009 while the historic rate of foreclosure re-sales is about nine percent.

Cash buyers accounted for 27.5 percent of the homes sold for the month, up from 25.0 percent in August, paying a median price of $250,000 for their purchases. Absentee buyers accounted for 19.4 percent of all sales, up from 19.0 percent in August, 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