Home sales plunge 36 percent in November in SF Bay area | SierraSun.com

Home sales plunge 36 percent in November in SF Bay area

LOS ANGELES (AP) ” Home sales plunged 36.2 percent last month in nine counties around San Francisco Bay, marking the biggest annual drop for November in the past 20 years, a real estate tracking firm said Thursday.

The report by DataQuick Information Systems also said the median home price of a home in the region inched up a slight 1.5 percent to $627,000, compared to the year-ago month.

The report said a major cause of the lagging sales was tightened lending practices that have made it more difficult to get jumbo loans exceeding $417,000 ” the current limit on the amount that government-backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will buy from lenders.

The revamped practices were sparked when a nationwide spike in mortgage defaults triggered a credit crisis last summer that left major financial institutions saddled with losses.

“This fall’s sharp decline in jumbo-loan financing continued to weigh heavily on Bay Area home sales, though we do see evidence the problem has stabilized,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

He said the percent of all transactions financed with jumbo mortgages increased slightly in November for the first time since the credit crunch hit in August.

Prentice expects sales to pick up at least modestly as the price and availability of jumbo loans improves.

The report followed a similar survey earlier this week that said home values in six Southern California counties plunged 10.3 percent ” the sharpest annual decline for any month in 20 years ” to $435,000.

Sales of homes in Southern California dropped to the lowest level for November in more than two decades, when DataQuick began keeping records.

In Northern California, DataQuick said 5,127 homes were sold in Alameda, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Solano and Sonoma counties last month, compared to 8,042 in November 2006.

The November sales count was down 6.5 percent from October’s tally.

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