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It just got $5,000 cheaper to buy a home in Sacramento County. Relief for shoppers?

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Good news for Sacramento County home shoppers. The median sales price last month dropped by $5,000.

In a sign the area’s housing market is softening, the county’s median price dropped to $370,000, one of the few monthly drops during a seven-year run of rising home prices.

That July number is still higher than it was this time last year, $354,700, according to the Sacramento Association of Realtors, which published the new data.

But the number of homes for sale has increased, while the number of sales has dropped in recent months.

“I really think that is a red flag,” said Sacramento real estate analyst Ryan Lundquist, author of the Sacramento Appraisal Blog.

A July snapshot in Sacramento showed 2,875 homes up for sale, 8 percent more than in June and 20 percent more than in July 2017, according to the Sacramento Association of Realtors. At the same time, houses spent 5 percent longer on the market in July before selling than in the previous month.

It’s not panic-button time for sellers or economy watchers, though, Lundquist said. It will take a few more months to know if the area’s real estate market is headed for a serious slump. “We are in this place where it is almost like a dating relationship. You need more time to see how it is going to go.”

And the latest slowdown is perhaps welcome relief to buyers long shut out of Sacramento’s tight housing market.

Some neighborhoods defied the trend. Home sale prices went up in July in a number of places, including Carmichael, Fair Oaks, Rancho Murieta, Elk Grove, downtown Sacramento and Land Park.

Real estate watchers say the summer slowdown is an indication that high home prices and rising mortgage interest rates have forced some would-be buyers to back away, which in turn is forcing home sellers to accept lower prices.

A study released this week determined that only 41 percent of Sacramento residents could afford a $375,000 home, the lowest percentage in a decade. That mirrors California-wide averages. The current, lower Sacramento median changes changes that equation, but only slightly.

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