San Francisco Sales, Prices Up in December
Home sales and prices both increased year-over-year in the San Francisco Bay Area in December, MDA DataQuick reported Friday. There were 7,828 new and resale houses and condos sold in the nine-county area, up 13.8% from 6,878 in November and up 13.6% from 6,889 in December 2008. MDA DataQuick said a November to December increase in volume is normal for the market. It marks the 16th consecutive month of year-over-year increases in sales and the highest December sales total since 8,372 homes were sold in December 2006. “A couple of years from now, when looking back, there’s a good chance we’ll refer to the beginning of 2009 as the bottom of the market,” said MDA DataQuick president John Walsh. “But that doesn’t mean we’re anywhere near normal yet. Sales distribution is still lopsided towards lower-cost homes, driven by tax incentives and distress activity.” “Whole mortgage categories don’t exist for buyers. Putting a deal together is excruciating, like swimming in molasses. We don’t expect much genuine improvement until lending institutions re-open their spigots,” Walsh added. The median price paid for a home in the Bay Area was $380,000 in December. While down 1.8% from $387,000 in November, it is 15.2% higher than December 2008. After 22 consecutive months of declines, December was the third month of year-over-year increases. Foreclosure resales took a 32.3% share of all resale activity, up from 31.9% in November and down from 48.3% in December 2008. Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-backed loans comprised 25.6% of all purchase mortgages in December, up from 25.1% in November, 22.8% a year ago and less than 0.5% two years ago. Mortgages above $417,000 accounted for 29.8% of purchase mortgages. Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were used in 8% of mortgage purchases, up from 7.9% the previous month and up from 5.1% in December 2008. Absentee buyers purchased 17.9% of all Bay Area homes sold, while buyers who appeared to have paid all cash — there was no corresponding purchase loan — accounted for 22.7% of sales. Write to Austin Kilgore.