San Francisco Area Home Prices Near Record as Sales Surge

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Homes in the San Francisco Bay area sold last month at the fastest pace in almost nine years and prices approached a record as growing consumer confidence, historically low mortgage rates and job growth propelled sales.

A total of 9,386 new and existing houses and condominiums changed hands in nine Northern California counties, up 16 percent from a year earlier and the most for any month since August 2006, CoreLogic Inc. said in a report Friday. The median price was $660,000, up 6.8 percent from a year earlier and 0.8 percent below the peak of $665,000 reached in June and July of 2007, according to the Irvine, California-based real estate information service.

The U.S. housing recovery has picked up steam this year, led by regions including the San Francisco area, where technology companies have boosted hiring and incomes while historically low interest rates help make housing more affordable even amid rising prices.

“The Northern California economy is on fire, adding five to six jobs for every house they’re building,” John Burns, a real estate consultant based in Irvine, said in a telephone interview. “There’s a frenzy to buy something now before it gets even more expensive, both in terms of price and interest rates.”

U.S. housing starts in June climbed to their second-highest level since November 2007, led by stepped-up work on apartment projects, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Confidence among builders is at its highest level since November 2005, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index updated Thursday.

More Jobs

California added 22,900 jobs last month for a total of 1.95 million since February 2010, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday. The state’s unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent from 7.5 percent in June 2014. The U.S. jobless rate was 5.3 percent in June.

The median home price in the city of San Francisco climbed 14 percent from a year earlier to $1.14 million, the highest in the area, followed by $950,000 in San Mateo County, on the peninsula south of the city, CoreLogic reported.

Transactions jumped almost 30 percent in Solano County and 27 percent in Contra Costa County, according to CoreLogic, as buyers traveled farther from jobs in San Francisco and Silicon Valley to purchase more affordable houses.

“It’s natural in an area where prices are this high to see increased pressure in surrounding, more affordable areas,” Andrew LePage, a research analyst with CoreLogic, said in a telephone interview. “It’s the so-called spillover effect.”

Southern California

In Southern California, sales climbed 18 percent in June from a year earlier, also the fastest pace since 2006, CoreLogic reported Thursday. The median price in the six county-region that include Los Angeles and San Diego rose 5.7 percent to $442,000. That’s almost 13 percent below the 2007 peak.

Statewide, an estimated 46,095 homes sold, the most for any month since September 2006, CoreLogic said. Prices climbed to a median of $417,000, up 6.9 percent from a year earlier and still 14 percent below the May 2007 peak.

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