Bay Area real estate: Sales sluggish, but prices rise

Sluggish home sales activity continued throughout much of the Bay Area in October, though median sale prices rose on a year-over-year basis.

That’s the upshot of a new report from CoreLogic, the real estate information service. Sales of single-family homes, condos and townhouses in the nine-county region were down 5.4 percent from September 2016 and down 1.5 percent from October 2015. It was the third consecutive month of relatively flat year-over-year sales — up or down less than 2 percent.

The October data gives “a final look at activity unaffected by … the recent presidential election,” said Andrew LePage, research analyst with CoreLogic. Sales were “the lowest for any October in five years and were about 11 percent below the average October sales tally over the last 30 years. With buyers still struggling with affordability and inventory constraints, total San Francisco Bay Area home sales so far this year — through October — are down about 3 percent from the same period last year.”

The median price of a home in the Bay Area in October was $675,000, up 3.8 percent from the previous month and up 6.1 percent from October 2015 — but below the region’s all-time high of $710,000 set in June. Median prices rose 12 percent year-over-year to $512,500 in Contra Costa County; 7.5 percent to $1 million in San Mateo County; 6 percent to $835,000 in Santa Clara County; and 5.5 percent to $670,000 in Alameda County.

“What happens next in the housing market is far from clear,” LePage added. “The post-election jump in mortgage rates has encouraged some would-be homebuyers who’ve been ‘on the fence’ to buy sooner rather than later out of fear that rates will continue to rise. Others will hold off if they believe rates will eventually drift lower because investors overreacted to perceived inflationary pressures.

“A sustained increase in mortgage rates would generate a headwind for sales, especially in markets where affordability is already stressed or economic growth is weak.”

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