Home sales and prices jump across the Bay Area, California

As tough as it is to find an affordable home — or any home at all — in the Bay Area, the housing crunch is a statewide phenomenon. New listings plunged 12 percent in March from one year earlier, creating a seller’s market across the state.

That’s according to a new report from the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.). It shows statewide sales and prices rising year-over-year as spring buyers pounced on the limited housing supply, driving prices up — and leaving slim pickings behind for those still hunting for a home.

Sales of single-family homes rose 6.9 percent year-over-year in California; in the nine-county Bay Area, the increase was 6.4 percent. Statewide, the median price rose 6.8 percent to $517,020, while the Bay Area median rose a whopping 10.1 percent to $837,720.

If that’s not a siren call for more affordable housing, what is?

Leslie Appleton-Young, C.A.R.’s senior vice president and chief economist, characterized the spring season as “off to a good start, as the economic and market fundamentals remain solid for the most part. However, higher interest rates, a dearth of housing inventory, and slow wage growth will continue to have an adverse effect on housing affordability that is putting upward pressure on home prices, and is sure to hamper the market throughout the year.”

Actually, after creeping up for several months, mortgage rates fell late last week to their lowest levels of 2017. Thursday, Freddie Mac announced the average rates for a 30-year fixed loan (4.08 percent),  a 15-year fixed loan (3.34 percent) and a 5-year adjustable loan (3.18 percent).

The declining rates reflected a drop in the 10-year Treasury note yield, which nudged lower Wednesday after President Trump said the dollar was “too strong.” The markets also were responding to general apprehension about national and world events: an unimpressive U.S. jobs report, air strikes in Syria and nuclear saber-rattling by North Korea.

Clearly, home buyers will keep an eye on those rates — not to mention the aftermath of those events — in the days and weeks ahead.

In the meantime, here are some Bay Area highlights of the C.A.R. report:

In Santa Clara County, sales rose 11.6 percent year-over-year, and the median price climbed 6.1 percent to $1,130,000. Compare that to San Mateo County: sales up 8.6 percent and median up 12.0 percent to $1,350,000.

In Contra Costa County, sales grew by 11.2 percent and the median climbed 6.6 percent to $585,000. In Alameda County, sales were up 5.5 percent and the median jumped 10.0 percent to $833,750.

And these are the numbers for San Francisco: Sales up 12.6 percent, but the median price down a smidgen (-0.4 percent) to $1,350,000.

Keep this in mind, though: The statewide and regional recovery of sales is a relative thing, as transactions — like the housing supply — already were down a year ago.

And now, courtesy of C.A.R., here’s a tabular snapshot of March sales and prices in California and the nine Bay Area counties:

Photo: A house with a pending home sale sign in Palo Alto. (Paul Sakuma/AP)


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