East Bay sees home sales increase

July 17, 2009 11:38:15 AM PDT
The number of foreclosures reached record levels in the second quarter of 2009. They jumped 11 percent since last year and much higher in some parts of the Bay Area. There is now some encouraging news in the real estate market.

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Foreclosure counselors in Contra Costa County have seen their caseloads jump dramatically in just the past few months. They include people like Faye Crosley, a cancer survivor who is trying to save the Richmond home she has owned for 17 years.

"I have lots of friends facing the same situation," said Crosley. "The banks seem like they are getting the money to do loan modifications, but they're not giving them."

According to RealtyTrac, second-quarter foreclosure activity in Contra Costa County increased 19 percent over last year.

"We have increased our staff because so many families are in need right now, and a lot of it has to do with unemployment and the loss of income," said Elaine Brooks-Cox who heads the foreclosure counseling team at Pittsburg's Pacific Community Services.

Foreclosure activity is up in the Bay Area, but so are home sales. It is a trend that is fueled by more than just buyers looking to scoop up bank-owned bargains.

DataQuick reports June sales in the Bay Area jumped 16 percent from May of this year and 20 percent from June 2008.

According to the Bay East Association of Realtors, in January, foreclosures made up 78 percent of home sales in hard-hit Hayward. In June, that number dropped to 60 percent.

"The headlines have all been about the foreclosures, but homes across the board are selling," said Dave Stark from the Bay East Association of Realtors. "Entry level homes, the higher end homes, they're all starting to move faster than in previous months."

Other factors driving sales include low interest rates, better availability of mortgages and a perception among potential buyers that prices may have finally hit bottom.

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