Bay Area home market cools, prices and sales fall

Home prices and sales fell last month in the Bay Area as the tech-rich region mirrored a cooling trend elsewhere within the state.

The median home price in the nine-county region fell 1.9% from August to $530,000, while sales dropped 17.1% -- a steeper fall than the normal seasonal slowing, research firm DataQuick said Thursday. It was the second straight month that the median decreased.

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Home prices shot up dramatically earlier this year as investors and families battled over few available homes amid rock-bottom mortgage rates. But much has changed since the spring.


“Interest rates are higher, the inventory has risen, and investors now account for a lower share of all sales. In addition, we’ve seen a normal, seasonal slowing in the market heading into fall,” DataQuick President John Walsh said in a statement. “It’s likely we’ll see year-over-year price gains trend lower for the foreseeable future.”

The pullback is a welcome return to normality, experts say, easing concerns some markets were entering bubble territory. The housing recovery, they say, still continues -- although not at the torrid pace of earlier this year.

A total of 7,141 houses and condos sold last month in the Bay Area, a 3.6% increase from September 2012. The median price in September was nearly 24% higher than last year.

The median price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half of them sold for less. It is influenced not only by a change in values, but also the mix of homes sold at any given point.

DataQuick said the recent price declines over the month are attributable to larger market forces as well as an increase in low- to mid-cost home sales.

Distressed sales continued to make up less of the market last month. Homes that had been foreclosed on within the last year accounted for 3.6% of existing sales in September, down from 4.3% in August and 14.1% last year.


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