Homebuyers are increasingly willing to spend more on houses -- if only they can find one to buy.
Sacramento housing prices continued their march upward in February, but scarcity of homes for sale defined the market in many neighborhoods. The median price of a house in Sacramento County jumped 22.6 percent in February from the same month of 2012 -- from $155,000 to $190,000, according to San Diego-based DataQuick, a real estate tracking firm.
Sales went in the opposite direction. The number of homes sold in Sacramento in February 2013 totaled 1,566, an 11.3 percent drop from the 1,766 that changed hands in the earlier period.
"I think the major reason sales are down is lack of inventory," said Andrew LePage, a DataQuick analyst. Investors have snatched up large numbers of foreclosed homes, drastically pruning inventory at the lower end of the market, he said. And homeowners are not yet convinced the time is right to sell.
"So many people are still underwater," LePage said. "And some people are not underwater, but they're holding out for a price they like."
The drop in sales was most pronounced for homes priced at $200,000 or less, at 29.8 percent. Sales actually jumped 48.3 percent for move-up houses, those priced between $300,000 and $800,000, LePage noted.