THE BASIS POINT

Record Increases In Bay Area Home Sales & Price Decreases

Bay Area Home PricesThe San Francisco Chronicle reports that Bay Area home sales marked their biggest gain in at least two decades last month, but the price plunge set a record too:

A total of 5,449 existing single-family homes traded hands in the nine-county region in September, up 74.8 percent from a year ago, according to MDA DataQuick. The median price was $400,000, down 40.3 percent from September 2007. Those are the largest year-over-year gains and drops, respectively, in the San Diego research firm’s 20 years of data.

The median was dragged down in large part by the changing mix of sales, DataQuick said. More homes that moved are lower priced because it’s harder to obtain loans for expensive properties, and there are more deals to be had in the less-expensive inland markets. Contra Costa, Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties accounted for almost 62 percent of all Bay Area home sales, and nearly 42 percent of all the homes that traded hands across the region had been foreclosed on within the past year.

Given that, the regional median does not accurately reflect conditions in areas that haven’t seen high foreclosure numbers, industry observers say. In San Francisco, prices were off just 14.1 percent and sales were up 1.3 percent.

The story also featured comments a contributor to The Basis Point, Rob Chrisman. He writes our DailyBasis column which is a roundup of mortgage and real estate industry news and market activity. Here’s what he had to say:

Rob Chrisman, director of capital markets for Residential Pacific Mortgage in Walnut Creek, said more people are buying in outlying regions because there’s a growing sense that prices may be approaching a bottom. Despite the seize up of global credit markets in recent weeks, he and Turley both said that qualified borrowers with money to put down continue to be able to secure home loans.

“There is no loosening of mortgage credit right now, but it has been stable, it has not been worsening,” Chrisman said.