Sonoma County home sales took a seasonal jump in June, but the median price fell and the deals were concentrated in the starter-home segment.
Buyers purchased 451 single-family homes last month, according to The Press Democrat monthly housing report compiled by Coldwell Banker manager Rick Laws. It was the highest number in 12 months, matching June 2010 sales.
However, the median price dropped to $319,500, down 10 percent from both May and from a year earlier.
Single-family home prices peaked in the county in August 2005, when the median hit $619,000. The median price then plunged steadily to $305,000 in February 2009.
In the past 12 months, the median price has hovered between $315,000 and $370,000.
In June, the sales segment of $200,000 to $299,000 was the “white hot zone,” said Laws. Three in 10 homes sold in that price range last month.
Nearly seven in 10 homes sold for less than $400,000 — often considered the price range for starter homes.
“We’ve got a lot of both first-time homebuyers and investors looking to make the good purchases while they can,” said Carol Lexa, a manager in Healdsburg for Wine County Group Realtors.
In contrast, about one in 10 homes sold for $700,000 or more.
Real estate agents and brokers have said it has been harder to sell homes in the move-up segment of the market. They maintain that so many traditional buyers for those homes are existing homeowners who have seen the equity plunge in their own properties.
For those who purchased after 2003, they may owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.
“If they are still in their homes,” said Lexa, “they can’t move.”
For the first six months, buyers purchased 2,147 homes, virtually the same amount as last year. Sales for all of 2010 reached 4,300, below the 15-year average of nearly 5,000 sales.
— Robert Digitale