Thursday, March 13, 2014

DataQuick: February Bay Area Home Sales Slowest Since 2008

by Calculated Risk on 3/13/2014 02:21:00 PM

From DataQuick: Bay Area Home Sales Slowest Since 2008

Bay Area home buyers were kept scrambling last month as a continued lack of inventory contributed heavily to a six-year low in sales. ...

A total of 4,963 new and resale houses and condos sold in the nine-county Bay Area last month. That was the lowest for any February since 2008, when 3,989 homes sold. Last month’s sales rose 5.7 percent from 4,696 in January, and fell 8.2 percent from 5,404 in February 2013, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

Since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin, February sales have ranged from a low of 3,989 in 2008 to a high of 8,901 in 2002. Last month’s sales were 19.9 percent below the average number of February sales – 6,194 – since 1988. Sales haven’t been above average for any month in more than seven years.

“A number of factors can keep a lid on sales. Affordability, for example. Or hard-to-get mortgages. These factors certainly play a role today, but clearly the main culprit is an inadequate supply of homes for sale. It’s going to be fascinating to watch how things play out between now and June. At some point rising home prices will trigger a more significant increase in the number of homes on the market. It’s just a question of when,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.
And on distressed sales:
Distressed property sales – the combination of foreclosure resales and “short sales” – made up about 12.5 percent of last month’s resale market. That was down from 14.0 percent in January and down from 34.1 percent a year earlier.

Foreclosure resales – homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 5.4 percent of resales in February, up from a revised 5.2 percent the month before, and down from 13.9 percent a year ago. Foreclosure resales peaked at 52.0 percent in February 2009. The monthly average for foreclosure resales over the past 17 years is 9.9 percent.

Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – made up an estimated 7.0 percent of Bay Area resales last month. That was down from an estimated 8.8 percent in January and down from 20.2 percent a year earlier.
This decline in sales is due to several factors: limited inventory, higher prices, and fewer distressed sales. With the recent price increases, more inventory should come on the market this year.