Bay Area Real Estate Is So Hot it's Cooling

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Photo by David Toerge

Following on our series earlier this month exploring the shortage of Eichler inventory, the data is in for the larger Bay Area housing market at the start of 2013. Thanks to some number crunching from the analysis firm DataQuick, it looks like the overall trend is toward a nasty little market crunch. Prices are up, inventory is down, and the year is just getting started. From the Los Angeles Times:

The median sales price shot up 24.6% in February to $405,000, the ninth straight month of double-digit year-over-year increases, San Diego-based DataQuick said Thursday. Compared with January, the median fell 2.4%.
Meanwhile, fewer homes were sold. Buyers purchased a total of 5,404 new and resale houses and condos in the nine-county area. That was down nearly 2% from January and a 6.1% decline from February 2012.

The San Francisco Chornicle's more detailed story includes some fearsome examples of our overheated market: In Berkeley, "one architecturally distinctive home was listed at $1.295 million but sold for $1.8 million, all cash - more than half a million dollars, or 39 percent, above the asking price." And throughout the region, "absentee buyers accounted for an all-time high of 28.2 percent of February sales, DataQuick said. All-cash buyers also hit a record, representing 31.9 percent of February sales."

But overall, the point is the same. Low inventory plus pent-up demand equals a price spike. If more homes were only available, we'd probably be seeing a buying frenzy unrivaled by any in recent memory. As DataQuick president John Walsh told The Times, "this spring is going to be interesting."