Bay Area Home Sales See More Upside in 2015

California overall

  • Year-over-year sales of new and existing houses and condos increased year-over-year for the FIRST time in a year.
  • This year delivered the strongest September in 5 years.
  • September delivered the 31st straight month of a year-over-year increase in the median sales price. This is still 19.6% below the all-time peak in 2007.
  • Indicators of distress continue to decline: “Foreclosure activity remains well below year-ago and peak levels reached in the last five years.” A report released three days later declared: “Lending institutions initiated formal foreclosure proceedings last quarter on the lowest number of California homes in more than eight years.”

SF Bay Area

  • This year also delivered the highest sales of new and existing houses and condos for a September since 2009.
  • The median price was up 14% year-over-year, 9.2% below the all-time peak in 2007.
  • Absentee buyers and all-cash buyers – most likely investors – had a smaller share of sales from last September, 2013 levels. From 20.9% and 23.% respectively in September, 2013 to 19.1% and 20.9% this past September.

Even the amount spent on housing in California terms remains favorable compared to historic norms. In California: “Adjusted for inflation, last month’s [average mortgage] payment was 36.0 percent below the typical payment in spring 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. It was 48.1 percent below the current cycle’s peak in June 2006. It was 60.5 percent above the January 2012 bottom of the current cycle.”

Ditto for the SF Bay Area: “Adjusted for inflation, last month’s payment was 19.4 percent below the typical payment in spring 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. It was 39.1 percent below the current cycle’s peak in July 2007. It was 82.4 percent above the February 2012 bottom of the current cycle.”

Even with the encouraging numbers, California has a ways to go before reaching anything close to normal levels of sales. For example, September’s “sales were 15.5 percent below the average of 42,996 sales for all the months of September since 1988‚ĶCalifornia sales haven’t been above average for any particular month in more than eight years.” So, there remains plenty of upside potential as the market continues to normalize.