Fresh from Pacific Union’s blog, this week is a weekly recap of real estate highlights:
The traditional Spring Selling Season is off to a great start – again – according to Core Logic. The company recently released a report showing a 12.2% year-over-year increase in home prices, representing the 24th straight month (i.e. 2 years) this has happened. California – and the Bay Area in particular – is leading the way. Including distressed sales (e.g. foreclosures, short sales, et al), California prices rose 19.8% year-over-year. In good news for first time and move up buyers, Core Logic’s chief economist (Dr. Mark Fleming) said that the company expects home prices to level out next year as fewer home owners are under water, leading to an increase in the supply of homes and decreasing the continued price surges of the last couple of years.
Across the Richmond-San Rafael bridge, a development firm as purchased 101 acres in southern Marin County and plans to build apartments and a school on the site. Apparently, the new owner is seeking to put about 100 rental units on the site. No time table as to when any plans are expected to come up before the County Planning Commission.
Lastly, the California Association of Realtors released a survey last week showing that there is an increasing number of international homebuyers in our state. According to the survey, 85% of these buyers considered only the US as a potential place to buy a home, with the overwhelming reason being the Sunshine State’s climate (they obviously didn’t visit SF in the summer!) and that they wanted to be closer to family.
For a more complete rundown of last week’s real estate roundup, check out Pacific Union’s blog.
California has reached it’s lowest unemployment rate in five years, and the Bay Area is ahead of the pack. The state’s unemployment rate is now at 8.6 percent, down 0.4 since April and 0.8 since March according to the state Employment Development Department. Things are looking even better for the nine Bay Area counties though, where unemployment levels are as low as 4.5 percent.
Marin County boasts the lowest unemployment numbers in the area and the highest is Alameda County at 6.8. With unemployment levels at nearly half of California’s average, good news continues to flow in for both the economy and the local housing market.
A huge factor in the local unemployment drop is the Bay Area’s increasing job growth. Economist Stephen Levy analyzed the EDD statistics and concluded the Bay Area’s many technology firms helped boost employment rates over the first several months of this year.
“Real GDP growth in California in 2012 was 3.5 percent, tied for fifth highest in the nation,” Levy said. “The Department of Finance reported that income tax receipts were $500 million above expectations in May, and the California Association of Realtors reported another month of strong gains in median home prices.
“The gains in home prices have a ‘triple bottom line’ in the sense that they show a strengthening demand for housing, they bring more households out of negative equity so that they can sell their homes without losing money, and they allow more homeowners to refinance on the basis of higher equity, which translates into an increase in spending power as mortgage costs drop.”
Last week we wrote about how Bay Area home prices increased by 45 percent in May. As it turns out, median sales prices are up all over the state of California, and the Bay Area is leading the charge!
According to the California Association of Realtors, the state’s median single-family home values increased almost 32 percent in May to $417,000 — a high it hasn’t reached since 1980.
“The Bay Area, in particular, has been experiencing strong price appreciation, thanks to the region’s robust economic growth, extremely low housing inventory, and an increasing demand from international buyers,” CAR President Don Faught said in a statement.
The median sales price for a house in the Bay Area is $720,000, leading all of California comfortably. It’s a spike of 42 percent from May of 2012, with no county in the area seeing less than a 21 percent increase over the last year.
The highest median sales prices in the Bay Area remain Marin County and San Francisco at $963,000 and $947,000 respectively. Napa, Solano and Sonoma are the only counties with median prices below $500,000.