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San Francisco Bay Area Home Prices Increase 8.3% in April

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May 17 (Bloomberg) -- Home prices in the San Francisco Bay area rose in April for the first annual gain in 19 months as buyers acquired costlier properties, according to DataQuick.

The median paid for houses and condominiums was $390,000 in the nine-county region, up 8.3 percent from $360,000 in April 2011 and 8.9 percent from $358,000 in March, the San Diego-based data firm said in a statement. The year-over-year advance was the first since September 2010.

The smallest share of foreclosure deals in four years and a shift in sales toward move-up markets helped to boost values, DataQuick President John Walsh said in the statement. Buyers are seeking to take advantage of decreased prices and record-low mortgage rates, according to the company.

“It appears the market is taking a step in the direction of normalization, but only a step,” Walsh said. “The mortgage market is critical, as is market mix and the receding importance of foreclosure resales.”

A total of 7,675 homes sold last month, little changed from March and up 13 percent from a year earlier. The tally, the highest for April in six years, was still well below the monthly average of 9,088 sales going back to 1988, DataQuick said.

Foreclosures accounted for 22 percent of sales, down from 28 percent a year earlier and the lowest since January 2008. Homes priced at $500,000 or more made up 38 percent of all sales, up from a 36 percent share in April 2011, DataQuick said. Jumbo loans above the old conforming limit of $417,000 were used in almost 36 percent of deals, up from 32 percent.

Median prices rose 6.9 percent from a year earlier to $700,000 in San Francisco, and 9.3 percent to $513,500 in Santa Clara County. The biggest price gain was in Contra Costa County, up 12 percent to $288,750, according to DataQuick.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Levy in San Francisco at dlevy13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

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