San Francisco Bay area home prices drop for fifth consecutive month
Home prices in the San Francisco Bay area declined for the fifth consecutive month in February as economic uncertainty steered buyers clear of the market, DataQuick said Thursday. The area's recent five-month price decline followed 12 months of annual gains, the La Jolla, Calif.-based research firm said. The median price on all San Francisco-area home sales hit $337,250 in February, down 0.2% from January and down 4.7% from a year ago, according to DataQuick. At the peak of the market four years ago, the median sales price in the Bay Area hovered at $665,000. That median price fell drastically, hitting $290,000 in 2009, before rebounding to its current level. This dramatic peak-to-trough decline is related to a sharp loss in home values, driven primarily by a housing oversupply and bargain prices created by foreclosures. A total of 4,991 new and resale homes were sold in the nine-county San Francisco Bay area last month, a slight 0.5% uptick from January, but still lower than the 5,035 sales recorded a year ago. New home sales fared worse, with only 243 San Francisco homes selling last month, the lowest level recorded in DataQuick's research history. "One of the main problems builders face is that they can't compete with prices on resale homes, especially distressed properties," DataQuick said Thursday. So what's holding homebuyers back? DataQuick blames an oversupply of distressed properties, with the market now catering more to investors and cash-only buyers. Distressed sales — which are made up of foreclosures and short-sales — accounted for more than half of the Bay area's resale market in February. Foreclosures alone represented 32.6% of the Bay Area's resale market last month, down 35% from January and 36.3% from a year earlier. Short sales — where the sale price is far below the actual mortgage — represented 20.3% of the area's February sales. Buyers who paid cash in February accounted for about 30.9% of all sales. Write to Kerri Panchuk.