Silicon Valley home prices are up!

Posted by Danielle & David Contreras on Friday, March 19th, 2010 at 3:54pm.

By Sue McAllister, San Jose Mercury News, Calif.

Mar. 19--The median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County rose 21 percent last month compared to the same time last year, as more high-end homes changed hands.

Sales in the county increased 4 percent last month compared with February 2009, with 804 houses sold, according to a report Thursday from MDA DataQuick.

The median price of the previously owned, single-family houses that changed hands in the county last month was $510,500, up from $421,000 in February 2009. Resale condominiums posted a median price of $315,000, up 16 percent from $271,500 in February 2009.

"It's feeling like we are off to a healthy spring market -- certainly not blockbuster, but healthy," said Rick Turley, president of realty brokerage Coldwell Banker's Bay Area office. "We need more listings."

The trend was the same in San Mateo County, where the median price of houses increased 13 percent year over year, and sales climbed 5 percent. The median house price in that county was $600,000, up from $531,000 last year. The median condo price was $330,000, down 13 percent from February 2009.

February's significant increases in median price do not mean that every home has enjoyed double-digit appreciation over the past year. In fact, the values of some homes are still falling. But median prices have increased compared with last year in part because of a change in which types of homes are selling, DataQuick said.

For example, in February 2009, homes costing $500,000 or more made up 24 percent of all Bay Area home sales, including new and resale houses and condos. But last month, sales in that price range made up 32 percent of sales. In Santa Clara County, 44 percent of sales cost $500,000 or more last month, up from 36 percent a year earlier.

Turley said that after the financial market meltdown of fall 2008, high-end home sales dried up during the first two quarters of 2009. Compared to those days, homes sales in higher price ranges are much more robust now, pushing up median prices. And with relatively few homes on the market in Silicon Valley and on the Peninsula, prices in some neighborhoods have stabilized.

Only about 3,300 houses and condos were for sale in Santa Clara County at the end of last week, compared with nearly 6,000 a year ago.

Campbell resident Michael Reed would probably agree that more listings would help prospective homebuyers like him. Reed has been looking for a home priced at about $500,000 on the west side of Silicon Valley for about six months, submitting "easily a dozen" offers, with no deal inked yet.

"The big word is 'frustrating,' " he said. "We've tried to do foreclosures, we've tried to do short sales, we've even tried to purchase on the courthouse steps. We've gone every single direction, but nothing's really working out."

Reed said along with help from his parents, he is prepared to pay cash for his first home and then get a mortgage on it later -- but even with cash, he's been outbid every time.

He admits part of the problem is that he's being picky, preferring a home in Campbell or Cambrian that's in decent condition -- homes, in other words, that are popular with lots of other buyers.

Kathi Hammill, an agent with Alain Pinel Realtors in Los Gatos, also notes that buyers in the $1 million-and-up price range are more numerous this year than last, but "are still being choosy." Properties that need refurbishing or have less-than-savory locations may still sit on the market. "If there's anything a little wrong with it, buyers are not willing to put offers on those types of houses. They are waiting."

For the nine-county region, home sales of all types -- including new and resale houses and condos -- were down slightly in February compared with a year earlier, falling 0.9 percent, with sales dropping significantly in Contra Costa, Napa and Solano counties, according to DataQuick's report. But median prices were up in most counties from last year.

"I would take that as an encouraging sign," said economist Matthew Anderson of Foresight Analytics in Oakland.

The median house price for the Bay Area as a whole was $370,000 last month, up 25 percent from $296,500 in February 2009.

The median price marks the halfway spot, meaning half the homes sold for less than the median figure, and half for more. DataQuick gathered its information from public records of sales that closed in February, meaning many of the transactions began in January or earlier. Anderson said he would not be surprised to see median prices and sales volume keep rising compared with 2009, but only if mortgage interest rates do not rise significantly. A big increase in rates would quell homebuying, he said.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

-----

To see more of the San Jose Mercury News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.mercurynews.com.

Copyright (c) 2010, San Jose Mercury News, Calif.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.
Print

Leave a Comment