Bay Area home sales up 45 percent


The real estate tracking firm DataQuick reports Bay Area home sales are up 45 percent this September, compared to September last year, but the downside is the average price of $625,000 last year, dropped to $400,000.

The reason sales were up in the Bay Area was because the banks unloaded many foreclosed homes and condos. 6,500 homes, or pre-owned homes, were sold in September in the Bay Area. Of that number, 42 percent were foreclosure re-sales.

Take any street in Antioch and the number of for sales signs tells the story of a housing credit market gone bad. Becky Chipman has lived in an Antioch neighborhood for the past six years.

"I saw it go downhill, now the houses a lot of them are in foreclosure, a lot of them are selling. It seems like they are starting to pick up a little bit," said Chipman, an Antioch homeowner.

She's right, the latest DataQuick numbers show that in September 2007, just over 900 homes sold in Contra Costa County, but last month's numbers were more than 1,700. That's an increase of 94 percent, but the reason why so many homes sold was the median sale price in Contra Costa County went from $551,000 to $300,000.

"They were artificially high. They were not sustainable high prices and so we have seen them come down to realistic levels and even bellow realistic level at this point," said John Holmgren, from the California Mortgage Brokers' Association.

Another reason why so many homes sold last month is that many of them were in foreclosure and sold by the banks. Again Contra Costa was among the hardest hit.

"Over half of what is on the market is bank owned," said David Shubb, a realtor.

It's not uncommon to see hauling crews, hired by the banks, cleaning up properties that are about to go on the market.

Even though sales of homes are up, most realtors will tell you the housing crisis is not over yet.

"No, we have not bottomed out in the overbuilt areas, the peak will come in 2011 or 2012. Areas that are not overbuilt areas, like here in Walnut Creek, I believe have already bottomed out," said Shubb.

Solano, Napa and Sonoma Counties are in trouble too. Interestingly enough, San Francisco and San Mateo counties saw less sales in September, but the home prices there in both counties went down.

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