Urban home sales increase

May 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Francisco may be leading a turnaround in the real estate market. Available mortgages and lower prices are major factors, but there may be something else fueling city home sales.

There's no doubt the latest numbers are an encouraging sign. Perhaps the real estate market is on the cusp of change and sellers seem to agree.

"We kind of decided we'd test the waters and see what happens, and things happened a lot sooner than we thought," said 79-year-old Beverly Weber, a San Francisco home seller.

Beverly and her daughter Nancy are convinced the San Francisco real estate market is making a comeback. They're still unpacking after moving from a house where mom had lived for 55 years.

"Then our house sold so quickly, we were just so surprised, and we had a few offers within a few weeks, so when we thought we would be taking nice cruises on Sunday looking at houses, it became a race," said Nancy.

Real estate agents tell us this is happening for two reasons. Lenders are starting to write mortgages again, although very carefully. And home prices may have bottomed out.

New Dataquick sales figures show the number of sales went up 6.5 percent in San Francisco last month, compared to a year ago, while prices slipped about five percent.

"You have prices that are not as astronomically high. There aren't as many buyers competing, even though it's not easy to find a property, it's not as hectic as it was, say, in the past couple of years," said John Asdrounian, a director of the San Francisco Association of Realtors and from McGuire Real Estate.

San Francisco and other urban centers may be benefitting from people tired of the high price of gasoline prices and who prefer instead to walk to work, local attractions, and want to rely on good public transportation.

The Wall Street Journal says downtown areas in Chicago, New York and Boston are starting to see the same trend emerging.

"They want to walk to restaurants. They want to walk to plays, concerts and so forth. So it's a much more urbanized feeling and desire that most people have at this time," said Betty Taisch a San Francisco Association of Realtors director.

Month to month sales and price figures tend to be very volatile, but there are some early signs in San Francisco that the market may be starting to stabilize.


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