Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- San Francisco Bay Area home sales last month rose to the highest level for a January in five years, helped by a decline in prices, low mortgage rates and a record number of investor purchases, DataQuick said.
A total of 5,479 new and resale houses and condominiums sold in the nine-county region last month, up 10 percent from a year earlier, according to the San Diego-based data provider. Sales were down 27 percent from the previous month, a normal December-to-January decline, DataQuick said.
Investors and other absentee buyers bought more than 25 percent of all Bay Area homes sold last month, a record and up from less than 24 percent in December and less than 23 percent a year earlier, DataQuick said. The median price fell 2.8 percent from December and 3.6 percent from a year earlier.
“While it’s clear prices have edged lower in some areas recently, last month’s Bay Area median of just $326,000 is a reflection of how skewed the market has become toward distressed, lower-cost properties,” DataQuick President John Walsh said in the statement. “The higher-end sales have slowed in recent months as many struggle to qualify for loans and others just sit tight.”
Sales of foreclosed and other troubled properties, which typically are discounted, made up almost 52 percent of transactions, up from less than 49 percent in December and down from 55 percent a year earlier, DataQuick said. Transactions for $500,000 or more accounted for 27 percent of sales last month, down from more than 29 percent in December and almost 30 percent a year earlier.
--Editors: Daniel Taub, Christine Maurus
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