Bay Area home prices up in February, sales down

A sign advertises Candlestick Cove, a new housing community in San Francisco. Bay Area home prices shot up 24.6% in February, DataQuick says.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Bay Area home prices jumped significantly last month while the number of homes sold declined as hungry buyers battle over few available homes in one of the nation’s most desirable markets.

The median sales price shot up 24.6% in February to $405,000, the ninth straight month of double-digit year-over-year increases, San Diego-based DataQuick said Thursday. Compared with January, the median fell 2.4%.


Meanwhile, fewer homes were sold. Buyers purchased a total of 5,404 new and resale houses and condos in the nine-county area. That was down nearly 2% from January and a 6.1% decline from February 2012.

DataQuick President John Walsh said there are a flood of buyers chasing too few homes, which is a main factor driving price gains in the Bay Area. Low interest rates coupled with a lack of homes for sale (still low prices compared with those during the boom) and a recovering economy means “the stage is set for price gains,” he said.

“This spring is going to be interesting,” Walsh said in a statement.

The median sales price is the point at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling as well as a general change in home values.
A shift toward more expensive abodes accounted for at least half of February’s nearly 25% increase, the real estate information provider said. The number of homes that sold for less than $500,000 declined 14.4% compared with a year earlier, while homes that sold for more than $500,000 increased 27.7%.

The percentage of foreclosure resales also declined, dropping to their lowest percentage of the resale market since November 2007.

Like across California, investors are playing a major role in the housing recovery. Absentee buyers — mostly investors as well as some second-home buyers — purchased 28.2% of all homes sold, the highest rate since DataQuick began tracking the statistic in 2000.

Contra Costa county saw the largest gains as its median sales price rose 32.3% to $311,000. In San Francisco, buyers paid a median of $700,500, or 12.3% more than a year prior.


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