Bay Area Home Sales Rise in September as Prices Dip.

SAN FRANCISCO (DQNews) LA JOLLA, Calif.-- The number of homes sold in the Bay Area increased slightly last month as prices continued to edge down.

Market trends indicate that significant move-up, move-down and sideways activity is still on hold, awaiting a stronger economy and a normalization of mortgage availability, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 6,749 new and resale houses and condos sold in the nine-county Bay Area in September. That was down 10.2% from 7,513 in August, and up 6.6% from 6,334 in September 2010, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

Sales normally drop from August to September. Since 1988, when DataQuick's statistics begin, September sales have varied from 5,014 in 2007 to 13,343 in 2003.

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Bay Area last month was $365,000. That was down 1.4% from $370,000 in August, and down 7.6% from $395,000 in September 2010.

The low point of the current real estate cycle was $290,000 in March 2009. The peak was $665,000 in June/July 2007. Around half of the median's peak-to-trough drop was the result of a decline in home values, while the other half reflected a shift in the sales mix.

Foreclosure resales -- homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months -- accounted for 25.6% of resales in September. Last month's figure was down slightly from a revised 25.7% in August, and down from 27.5% a year ago. Foreclosure resales peaked at 52% in February 2009. The monthly average for foreclosure resales over the past 15 years is about 9%.

Short sales - transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property - made up an estimated 20.1% of Bay Area resales last month. That was up from an estimated 18.2% in August, 15.4% a year earlier, and 15.3% two years ago.

Last month 33.5% of Bay Area sales were for $500,000 or more, down from 35.5% in August, and down from 38% in September 2010. The low for the current cycle was January 2009, when just 22.7% of sales crossed the $500,000 threshold. Over the past 10 years, a monthly average of 47.4%of homes sold for $500,000-plus.

Last month absentee buyers -- mostly investors -- purchased a near-record 19.4% of all Bay Area homes sold, up from 19% in August and 18.6% a year ago. The peak was 19.9% in January this year, while the monthly average since 2000 is 16.4%. Absentee buyers paid a median $240,000 in September, down from $250,000 in August and $268,000 a year ago. Buyers who appear to have paid all cash -- meaning no corresponding purchase loan was found in the public record -- accounted for 27.5% of all sales in September, up from 27.4% in August, and up from 25% a year ago. The record was 30.6% last February, while the monthly average going back to 1988 is 11.7%. Cash buyers paid a median $250,000 in September, the same as in August but down from $270,000 a year earlier.
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