Last month, the number of Bay Area home sales slowed to a crawl and hit its lowest level since the recession in 2008, according to the latest report from DataQuick. A slowdown is normal for January, but even compared with January 2014, sales are down, dropping 5.5 percent to a seven-year low of 4,439 houses and condos for the whole Bay Area. Meanwhile, the median price paid is still climbing; it rose 9 percent year over year to reach $572,000, compared with $525,000 last January. In fact, last month was our 34th month straight of a year-over-year price gains. Small consolation: Price growth has slowed since January 2014, when median prices had increased a whopping 26.5 percent over January 2013. At least we’ve dropped to single-digit price hikes! Woohoo.
In San Francisco proper, at least, this January’s prices are pretty flatcompared with last year’s. The median sale price is up just $1,000 from January 2014, standing at $885,500. Sonoma, Napa, and Marin saw the highest year-over-year price increases, of 11 percent, 9.5 percent, and 9 percent, respectively.
Absentee buyers (mostly investors) accounted for 21 percent of Bay Area homes in January, down from 24.5 percent in January 2014. If this spring is anything like prior selling seasons and we’re in for another bonkers year, as a recent Paragon report predicted, January’s relatively flat numbers may not hold for long. “January isn’t really a bellwether month when it comes to housing trends,” DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage noted in the report. “For that we’ll have to wait until spring.”