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January 27, 2009


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While sales were up Month Over Month, 6.5%, they were down Year Over Year 3.5%. 2007 was a pretty low bar year for sales.....

A 25% drop sounds about right. San Mateo Co. median prices were down 26% last year, if I remember rightly.
That drop is concentrated in foreclosed and lower-priced houses.
There's no question that the banks are playing games with their newly-acquired housing stock, in an attempt to get the best price. That's understandable, and it may prolong the agony if their strategy doesn't work.


It is too bad, but to be expected when people live on credit, do not save and take out loans for which they have no ability to pay. That last would not have happened if government had not cancelled regulatory laws including the Glass-Steagall Act.

Anybody have good data for zip 94044? I had a recent appraisal for a refinance which indicated a 25% home value drop since the peak.

December home sales post unexpected increase
Alan Zibel, Associated Press

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

(01-27) 04:00 PST Washington --

Sales of existing homes posted an unexpected increase last month, as consumers snapped up bargain-basement foreclosures in California and Florida, closing out the worst year for the U.S. real estate market in more than a decade.

Analysts, however, cautioned that prices are likely to keep falling through 2009, and said the outlook for home sales is highly uncertain, despite a boost from low mortgage rates.

"I don't think we're close to a bottom yet," said Michelle Meyer, a Barclays Capital economist who sees nationwide prices falling an additional 15 percent this year. "We're still very far away from a normal housing market."

If President Barack Obama's administration enacts a plan to keep borrowers in their homes, analysts said, the number of foreclosures on the market might decline, but it's still unclear how successful any government efforts will be.

Sales of existing homes rose 6.5 percent to an annual rate of 4.74 million in December, from a downward revision of 4.45 million in November, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. Without adjusting for seasonal factors, sales nationwide were up 1.1 percent from a year earlier, reflecting a surge of more than 36 percent in the Western states.

Some in the real estate industry were encouraged by the surprising jump in sales and a big decrease in the number of homes for sale. "It looks like we are hitting bottom (in sales)," said Ronald Peltier, chief executive of HomeServices of America Inc., which owns real estate agencies in 19 states.

While sales boomed last month in Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas, they sank in cities with formerly healthy markets like Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., Seattle, and Portland, Ore., according to the Associated Press/Re-Max Monthly Housing Report, also released Monday.

Home prices in Seattle are falling and foreclosures have picked up, but sales are still sluggish and listings are languishing on the market for six months or more, said Gary DeRosa, a Seattle real estate agent with ZipRealty Inc.

"Even though the sellers may be reducing their prices, the buyers are still coming in at 5 to 10 percent below the market price," DeRosa said.

The nationwide median sales price plunged to $175,400 last month, down 15.3 percent from $207,000 a year ago. That was the lowest price since May 2003 and the biggest year-over-year drop on record going back to 1968. With sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties making up about 45 percent of sales, many economists expect prices to keep falling.

For all of 2008, there were 4.9 million existing-home sales, down more than 13 percent from a year earlier, and the lowest total since 1997. "We have another year to go of soft home prices, primarily at this point because of the recession and job losses," said Norm Miller, a real estate professor at the University of San Diego.

In one encouraging sign, the number of unsold homes on the market last month fell nearly 12 percent to 3.7 million, the lowest level since January 2007. At the current sales pace, it would take 9.3 months to sell all the properties, down from 11.2 months in November.

If that number keeps falling, "it will set the stage for home prices to stabilize, which would be a huge relief to homeowners, bankers and certainly the government," wrote Bernard Baumohl, chief economist at the Economic Outlook Group in New Jersey.


This article appeared on page D - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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