Bay Area Housing Hits Five-Year High

March 2012 home sales in the San Francisco Bay area were at their highest level for that month in five years, the result of lower prices, low interest rates and an improving economy, according to a new report by San Diego-based DataQuick.

Last month, 7,694 new and resale houses and condos sold in the nine-county Bay Area, up 34.9% from 5,702 in February and up 9.1% from 7,051 in March 2011. Although the February-to-March sales jump is considered normal for the season, last month’s sales count was the highest for the month of March since 8,317 homes were sold in 2007.

“This is the time of year when buying patterns usually start to normalize,” says John Walsh, DataQuick president. “And while the changes we’re seeing are incremental, they’re incremental in a positive direction. That said, there’s a long way to go – two of the big issues to watch closely are how fast distressed properties are being put on the market, and the availability of, or lack of availability of, mortgage financing.”

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Bay Area last month was $358,000. That was up 10.2% from $325,000 in February and down 0.6% from $360,000 in March 2011. The median has declined on a year-over-year basis every month since October 2010, although last month’s decline was the smallest.