/*Contra Costa County*/ provides the most glaring example, and the example of the extremes, in the Bay Area /*real estate market*/. In Contra Costa County sales are definitely up, but in some parts of the county, only because prices have fallen so low.
Nearly left for dead, the Bay Area real estate market is showing small signs of life. After months of staying away, for some buyers at least, it seems the American dream is back within reach.
"This was an excellent experience for me," said Perry Mofrad.
That's thanks to buyers like Mofrad who just bought a 2,400 square foot home in Antioch. Just eight years old, it's a /*foreclosure property*/ that Mofrad picked up at a bargain price.
"When I was looking at them last year, it was about $700,000 or so, and I could manage to buy it now for half of that," said Mofrad, a home buyer.
According to /*Dataquick*/, in Contra Costa County, home sales are up 1.5 percent from April of last year, but prices have dropped 34 percent in that same period. The median price was $600,000 in April 2007 and now it's down to $395,000 in April 2008.
Fully 45 percent of the sales in Contra Costa last month were of homes in foreclosure. /*Prudential California*/'s Jim Colhoun has sold real estate in Contra Costa for nearly 20 years.
"In the stronger markets, like Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda, buyers are returning to the market. In other areas, where there are more bank-owned properties, and prices have been cut, investors are buying those homes as good investments," said Colhoun.
Besides low prices, the sales bump is fueled by a slight softening in the attitude of mortgage lenders.
"We've seen a real subtle shift in the underwriting guidelines, but a little more lax attitude. They're not running scared like they were before," said CEO Mike Miller from Capital Market Funding.
The hope is that Tuesday's numbers signal some sort of long term uptick in the market, but no one in the industry is betting on that, yet.