Home sales in the California Bay Area fell below a year earlier for the second consecutive month in March, according to new data from San Diego-based DataQuick.
A total of 7,263 new and resale houses and condos were sold in the nine-county Bay Area last month. That was up 34.4% from 5,404 the month before and down 6% from 7,723 in March 2012.
The median price paid for a home in the nine-county Bay Area last month was $436,000. That was up 7.7% from $405,000 in February and up 21.8% from $358,000 in March last year. The median has risen on a year-over-year basis for 12 consecutive months, with double-digit year-over-year gains the last 10 months and increases above 20% for the past five months.
Distressed property sales – the combination of foreclosure resales and short sales – made up about 30% of the resale market in March. Last month's figure, which was the lowest in five years, was down from about 35% in February and down from about 49% a year ago.
‘Higher sales in the middle and top of the housing market reflect improved consumer confidence, ultra-low mortgage rates and the unleashing of more pent-up demand than many anticipated,’ says John Walsh, president of DataQuick. ‘There's been a shift in psychology, where more people worry prices will rise and fewer fear a decline. It's drawn a lot of folks off the fence following a long stretch of subpar sales, especially in the higher price ranges. In the more affordable markets, we've seen a big drop in foreclosures, which limits the supply of homes for sale. Then you have homeowners who still can't sell because they owe more than their homes are worth.’