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San Francisco Bay Area home sales rise in November

December 17, 2009 | 11:31 am

Home sales rise in San Francisco Northern Californians had some good housing news to cheer this morning: San Francisco Bay Area home prices in November rose 10.6% from the same month a year prior.

It was the second month in a row that the median price paid for a home in the Bay Area increased on a year-over-year basis. But that number declined slightly from October.

The increase reflected an overall improvement of the housing market up north, with fewer foreclosures making up the total mix of homes up for resale, more activity in pricier neighborhoods and an overall bounce back from the severely depressed prices experienced in the region one year ago, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego, a research firm that closely tracks California’s housing market.

“The latest stats show just how much the Bay Area market has changed in a year,” DataQuick President John Walsh said in a statement. “Financial distress is still a problem with many borrowers, but for now cheap foreclosures have lost their leading role in this housing drama. In the short run, we’ll be comparing the new data to some ridiculously low-median sale prices a year earlier -- medians severely skewed back then by so many inland foreclosures selling, and so few coastal high-end sales.”

The median price paid for all homes in the Bay Area was $387,000 in November, a decrease of 0.8% from October, but up from $350,000 in November 2008, DataQuick said.

For comparison, the median price paid for a Southern California home increased 1.8% in November from October, to $285,000. See the full story here.

The Bay Area’s November median was 33.4% higher than its 2009 low point of $290,000 in March but is still 41.8% below its $665,000 peak reached in June and July of 2007.

The number of sales in the Bay Area was the highest for a November in three years.

A total of 6,878 homes sold in the nine-county Bay Area, a 19.5% increase from November 2008 but a 13.3% decrease from October of this year. A decline in sales between October and November is typical with the beginning of the slower fall and winter seasons.

Bay Area homes sold in November that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months made up 32.5% of all resales. That was up from 31.3% in October but down from 46.8% in November 2008. Foreclosure sales peaked at 52% of the market in February.

The long-term picture is far from clear, Walsh cautioned.

“A lot of people sense lenders are holding back and that there’s at least one more round of foreclosures lurking around the corner,” he said. “Combine that with less government stimulus in 2010, and it would threaten whatever price stability we see now.”

-- Alejandro Lazo

Photo: San Francisco houses. Credit: Linus Henning via Flickr