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Thousands regain equity as home prices leap in Sacramento

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2013 - 4:20 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 9:20 am

Sacramento's housing market recovery accelerated this spring, with home prices rising by double digits in the past year, according to data released Wednesday.

The median sales price for homes in Sacramento County and the city of West Sacramento rose by about 8 percent from April to May and was up more than 42 percent last month compared with May 2012, the Sacramento Association of Realtors reported.

The median - the point at which half of houses sell for less and half sell for more - rose from $168,750 in May 2012 to $220,000 in April to $240,000 last month, the group said.

A separate report, also released today, found that rapidly rising prices are restoring home equity to people across the region who previously owed more than their homes were worth. More than 26,500 homeowners in the Sacramento area regained equity in their homes in the first three months of this year compared with the last three months of 2012, CoreLogic reported.

In the four-county Sacramento region, the number of homeowners who owe more on mortgages than their homes are worth fell from 150,198, or 31 percent, in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 123,600, or 26 percent, in the first quarter 2013, the Irvine-based real estate information service said.

So-called negative equity has been tumbling in California and across the nation as home prices have risen in the past year. Growing demand and a tight supply of homes for sale have been the driving factors. In Sacramento, one of the most improved markets in the United States, home values have risen by double digits since the spring of 2012, when the market turned.

Price appreciation is expected to slow down as more homeowners regain equity and put their houses on the market, CoreLogic said.

"The impressive home price gains of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 have had a big impact on the distribution of residential home equity," Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, said in a news release.

"During the past year, 1.7 million borrowers (nationwide) have regained positive equity," he said. "We expect the pent-up supply that falling negative equity releases will moderate price gains in many of the fast-appreciating markets this spring."

At the moment, though, there is still a shortage of houses on the market. The number of homes for sale in the Sacramento area rose by nearly 8 percent in May, but that's still less than a month's worth of inventory, the Realtors group said.

Call The Bee's Hudson Sangree, (916) 321-1191.

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