Bay Area Housing Market Update

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 25 September 2013 18:51
Bay Area Real Estate Bay Area Real Estate

Amid Bay Area Rapid Transit labor disputes, final Bay Bridge construction and a disappointing month for baseball's San Francisco Giants, it's probably no surprise that Bay Area real estate offered its own mixed bag of results in August 2013. In spite of an expected end-of-summer decline in housing sales, most of the news from the Bay Area real estate market is good, reports real estate tracking firm DataQuick.

Bay Area real estate results for August 2013 mostly show a recovering market year-over-year:

  • Homes sales declined slightly;
  • Median home prices rose dramatically;
  • Adjustable rate mortgages increased;
  • Distressed property numbers fell significantly;
  • Housing inventory modestly dropped and
  • Houses and condominiums sold more quickly.

August Sales Slide
From Sonoma to San Mateo and all points in between, the number of Bay Area homes sold during the month decreased. August 2013 home sales numbered 8,616, a drop from July's 9,339 and August 2012's 8,670. While the sales only amount to a .6 percent decrease from last year, DataQuick reports that Bay Area monthly sales have been below average since autumn 2006.

Prices Soar 30 Percent
Real estate experts usually expect to see a slight drop in sales from July to August, and this year's results follow that trend. In spite of that small month-to-month drop, the median price paid for a home in August 2013 was $540,000. That's a whopping 31.7 percent increase over August 2012's median price of $410,000. Even better, most of that increase, about 75 percent, is due to a genuine increase in home values.

Similarly, the California Association of Realtors reports that home prices increased by more than 20 percent in all of the Bay Area's nine counties except Sonoma. Sonoma experienced a sale price increase of 17.7 percent. Neighboring Napa County experienced the greatest increase in median prices with a 46.7 percent jump over August 2012 prices.

Small declines in home prices from July to August this year were seen in four Bay Area counties:

  • Alameda and Marin counties' prices dropped 1.2 percent and
  • Prices in Santa Clara and Sonoma counties declined by 4.2 percent.

The median price of Bay Area homes topped out at $665,000 in June and July of 2007, but dropped to its low of $290,000 in March 2009. Median prices for August 2013 are still 18.8 percent below the 2007 high-water mark.

Money Matters: Loans, Down Payments and Foreclosures
Real estate professionals often look to loan, down payment and full-cash purchases to gauge the market's progress. Most Bay Area financial indicators point to positive movement in the market, from an increase in the proportion of adjustable rate mortgages to the receipt of $2.3 billion in down payments and cash purchases.

Similarly good news, foreclosures decreased from 14.5 percent of home sales in August 2012 to just 4.6 percent last month. Short sales accounted for only 10 percent of all home resales in August, down from 2012's 23.3 percent.

It's a Seller's Market
A tight Bay Area housing inventory translates to a supply of only 2.4 months; statewide supply is at 3.1 months. Napa County reported the smallest inventory with just 2.0 months, a 62 percent drop from August 2012. Marin's three-month inventory was the largest.

Houses in the Bay Area sold more quickly last month as well. Although still on the market longer than the average California home, Bay Area residences sold in an average of 35.9 days. During the same month in 2012, homes here sold within 45.2 days.

As the real estate recovery pendulum continues to swing more narrowly, experts expect homes sales and prices to continue to improve. While inventory may remain tight, the declining number of foreclosures and short sales offer additional hope to home buyers and sellers throughout the Bay Area.

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