Sacramento's median home price up 22.6 percent, but sales drop 11.3 percent

Published: Friday, Mar. 15, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6B
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 17, 2013 - 11:25 am

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.

Other counties in the region reported similar results. In Placer County, for instance, the median price rose 16 percent, to $293,500, while sales fell 4.8 percent.

"I think the major reason sales are down is lack of inventory," said Andrew Le-Page, 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 for Sacramento County, LePage said. Sales actually jumped 48.3 percent for move-up houses, those priced between $300,000 and $800,000, LePage noted.

Recently foreclosed homes made up a far smaller percentage of the resale market in February – 19.7 percent – than they did a year ago, when they comprised 45.1 percent of homes sold in Sacramento County, LePage said.

Across the region, the drop in home sales would have been even larger were it not for sizeable percentage increases in the sale of new homes – a market that is clawing back from a near standstill. In Placer County, for example, new home sales jumped 48.3 percent – from 58 to 86.

New home sales in Sacramento County rose 22.4 percent, from 85 to 104.

Call The Bee's Mary Lynne Vellinga, (916) 321-1094.

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