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San Francisco Bay Area Home Sales Reach Five-Year High for March

Home sales in the San Francisco Bay Area reached the highest level for the month of March in five years as an improving economy and low interest rates lured buyers, according to DataQuick.

A total of 7,694 houses and condominiums sold last month in the nine-county region, up 35 percent from February and 9.1 percent from March 2011, the San Diego-based data seller said today in a statement. March sales were last higher in 2007, when they reached 8,317. Condo resales totaled 1,734, the most for any month since August 2006.

“While the changes we’re seeing are incremental, they’re incremental in a positive direction,” DataQuick President John Walsh said in the statement. A backlog of distressed properties and tight mortgage credit are “two of the big issues” still holding back the market, he said.

The Bay Area median price last month was $358,000, up 10 percent from February and down 0.6 percent from March 2011. Prices have dropped on a year-over-year basis every month since October 2010, with last month’s decline being the smallest.

Prices in San Francisco County were unchanged from a year earlier at a median $650,000. In Marin County, the median fell almost 16 percent to $565,000.

Eight of the region’s nine counties had sales gains from a year earlier, led by Solano with a 13 percent advance. Transactions rose 11 percent in San Francisco and 7 percent in Santa Clara. In Napa, the only county to have a decrease, sales fell 0.8 percent.

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