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San Francisco Area Home Prices Fell 1.3% in December

San Francisco Bay Area home prices fell 1.3 percent in December as foreclosure sales made up a larger share of purchases, MDA DataQuick said.

The median paid for new and resale houses and condominiums in the nine-county region was $375,000, down from $380,000 for both November and a year earlier, the San Diego-based real estate data firm said today in a statement.

Foreclosure sales increased for the fifth straight month to 31 percent of all purchases, the largest proportion since March. California as a whole had the most foreclosures of any U.S. state last year, with 546,669 filings, Irvine, California-based data seller RealtyTrac Inc. said last week.

“Most of what we’re seeing are distress sales and bargain hunting, with a smattering of discretionary buying,” John Walsh, MDA DataQuick’s president, said in today’s statement. “While the dicey economy and employment concerns are major factors, tight mortgage credit is also a big issue right now, especially for the upper half of the market.”

A total of 7,178 homes sold in the Bay Area last month, up almost 18 percent from November and down 8.3 percent from a year earlier, the company said.

Purchases of properties priced $500,000 and higher accounted for a third of all December transactions, down from 36 percent the previous month and the lowest share since February. Over the past decade, those homes made up 45 percent of sales.

Jumbo Loans

Scarce credit is hurting higher-cost home sales, according to MDA DataQuick. Mortgages above $417,000, the former definition of jumbo loans, were used in 31 percent of December purchases, down from 33 percent in November. Jumbos were used in almost 60 percent of Bay Area purchases before the credit crisis of 2007.

Prices fell in all nine Bay Area counties, led by a 13 percent decline in Napa to a median $310,000. Santa Clara had the smallest decrease, dropping 3.2 percent to $460,000. San Francisco was down 5.1 percent to $617,000.

Sales declined in eight counties, falling 15 percent in Marin, 14 percent in Santa Clara and 1.6 percent in San Francisco. Napa had the only increase, up 4.7 percent, said MDA DataQuick, a unit of Richmond, British Columbia-based MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates Ltd.

The company compiles county records and supplies real estate data to public agencies, lenders and title companies.

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