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Home Prices Drop in Bay Area

From Bloomberg News

San Francisco Bay Area home prices last month dropped for the first time in 4 1/2 years as a larger inventory of houses and condominiums for sale gave buyers the upper hand in negotiations, according to data released Tuesday.

The median price in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Marin and six other Northern California counties was $611,000 last month, down 0.8% from a year earlier and down 1.5% from August, La Jolla-based DataQuick Information Systems said. The year-over-year decline was the first in the Bay Area since March 2002, when the median price fell 1.3%.

“Buyers just have more time now,” DataQuick analyst John Karevoll said. “They’re not under the gun now to buy. During the surge a year ago or two years ago, there weren’t any homes for sale. People had to pull the trigger fast to get anything.”

U.S. new-home prices will decline this year for the first time since 1991 and prices for existing homes will have their smallest increase ever as larger inventories force sellers to accept lower offers, the National Assn. of Realtors said last week.

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The last time prices dropped in the Bay Area was in the wake of the technology industry’s bust. At the time, there were year-over-year declines in the median price of 1% to 3% for six straight months, DataQuick said. During this cycle, prices are likely to fall on a year-over-year basis for four to five months before they level off, Karevoll said.

In Southern California, home prices rose 1.9% last month, the smallest year-over-year increase in almost a decade, DataQuick said last week. Last month’s sales in Southern California were the lowest for any September since 1997.


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