Bay Area median home price falls 44 percent |

Bay Area median home price falls 44 percent

SAN FRANCISCO ” The median home price in the San Francisco Bay area fell nearly 44 percent in December from a year earlier as more bargain hunters scooped up foreclosure properties, a real estate tracking firm said Wednesday.

The median home price in the nine-county region dropped to $330,000 last month from $587,500 in December 2007, according to La Jolla-based MDA DataQuick.

The Bay Area median home price is at the lowest point since March 2000, when it was $320,500, and marks a 50-percent decline since the peak of $665,000 in the summer of 2007. The median marks the price where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

A total of 6,889 houses and condos were sold in December, up 20 percent from November and up 36 percent from December 2007, MDA DataQuick said.

The increase in sales was driven by foreclosure properties that for the first time accounted for more than half of all resales, while problems securing financing hurt sales of more expensive homes, the firm said.

“It’s basically a market where you’ve got people bailing on homeownership or people who lost their homes,” said John Karevoll, a DataQuick analyst.

Most of the Bay Area sales took place in the East Bay counties hit hardest by foreclosures. The median home price fell 50 percent to $252,000 in Contra Costa County, 37 percent to $338,000 in Alameda County and 42 percent to $213,500 in Solano County. By contrast, it dropped 16 percent to $616,500 in San Francisco.

The upper half of the Bay Area housing market won’t recover until the market for “jumbo” loans for more than $417,000 recovers, Karevoll said. Such loans used to account for more than 60 percent of the region’s real estate financing, but only made up 22 percent of loans last month.

“It’s very difficult if not impossible to predict what’s going to happen,” Karevoll said. “It’s hard to project when the operating instructions for the market are no longer valid.”

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