Sonoma County home sales dipped 8 percent last year when transactions slowed after the end of federal and state housing tax credits, according to a new report.
The median price for single-family homes sold in 2010 rose to $352,500, up almost 4 percent over the 2009 price, according to The Press Democrat’s monthly housing report compiled by Coldwell Banker manager Rick Laws.
But as the year drew to a close, the median price had sunk to $331,000 for homes sold in December, down 5 percent from the previous month, hitting its lowest level in 20 months.
Marty McCormick, owner of McCormick and Co., a Santa Rosa mortgage broker and real estate sales office, said at the year’s end it seemed bank asset managers were more willing to negotiate in order to move property.
“My experience was we got deals done at a better price,” McCormick said.
Buyers purchased 4,322 homes last year, 13 percent below the 10-year average of almost 5,000 transactions. Sales peaked in 2004 with slightly more than 6,200 homes sold.
The yearly median price peaked in 2005 at $595,000. Prices hit bottom in 2009, when the yearly median reached $340,000.
The housing market benefited in the first half of the year from federal and state tax credits, which together offered as much as $18,000 over three years to qualified buyers. Sales also were helped by the lowest interest rates in three decades.
But the tax credits didn’t appear to draw in more buyers but simply attracted those “who bought earlier than they would have,” said Doug Solwick, a broker associate for Keller Williams in Santa Rosa who specializes in bank-owned properties.
Solwick said buyers continue to make offers, but he also has seen some softening in prices, especially in the condominium market.
“I think it’s going to be a harder year than most people think it’s going to be,” he said.
— Robert Digitale