California Sales Soar as Prices Plunge

Real Estate Brief

By Inman News

December’s sales of new and existing homes and condos in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area gained an average of 43 percent from a year ago, real estate research company DataQuick reported this week.

As the median sales price in Southern California dropped 34.6 percent between December 2007 and December 2008 — from $425,000 to $278,000 — sales in the six-county region jumped 50.5 percent, from 13,240 to 19,926. While the median sales price in the San Francisco Bay Area plummeted 43.8 percent — from $587,500 to $330,000 — sales in the nine-county region climbed 36 percent, from 5,065 to 6,889.

DataQuick found that the purchase of foreclosure properties in the Bay Area accounted for 50 percent of all resales last month, while these purchases comprised 55.7 percent of Southern California resales. Bay Area foreclosure resales ranged from 12.4 percent in San Francisco to 67.7 percent in Solano County.

According to DataQuick, “in today’s market the drop in the median overstates the decline in home values. The more affordable inland markets with most of the discounted foreclosures account for a large share of today’s sales, while homes in the upper half of the market are not selling well, and are under-represented in the statistics.”

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Southland buyers committed themselves to paying was $1,239 last month, down from a revised $2,060 for December 2007, while Bay Area buyers were typically paying $1,471 last month, down from a revised $2,848 for December 2007.

The most active lenders in the Bay Area and Southern California last month were Countrywide, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, DataQuick reported.