Sonoma County home prices jump in June


Sonoma County’s housing market wrapped up the first half of 2014 by once more posting both a drop in sales and a double-digit jump in prices.

Buyers in June purchased 472 single-family homes, according to The Press Democrat’s monthly housing report compiled by Pacific Union International Vice President Rick Laws.

Home sales declined just 1 percent in June, compared to a year ago. But for the first half of the year, they fell 10.9 percent from a year earlier and were the lowest in three years.

“We’re not selling that many houses,” said Mike Kelly, an agent with Keller Williams in Santa Rosa.

Part of the reason is fewer homes are available for sale. And after nearly two years of rising prices, he said, fewer potential buyers can afford a house in Sonoma County.

Even so, demand remained healthy enough to push prices higher.

The median price for a single-family home rose in June to $498,500, a level last reached in January 2008 and an increase of 14.6 percent from a year earlier.

“We are definitely still seeing strong appreciation,” Laws said. He cited low interest rates and population growth that continues to outpace construction of new housing units.

It may be small comfort to buyers, but in June 2013 the median price was rising at an even faster pace, climbing 25 percent from a year earlier to $435,000.

Starting about 14 years ago, county home prices were on a steep rise, reaching a record high of $619,000 in August 2005. But prices tumbled during a historic housing crash, hitting a low of $305,000 in February 2009. More than 15,000 county homeowners lost their properties over the last seven years in foreclosures or short sales, the latter a transaction where the price is less than the amount owed on the mortgage.

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