Sonoma County’s median home price dipped to its lowest level in over two and a half years in October as investors scooped up large numbers of financially distressed properties.
The median sales price for a single-family home dipped almost 10 percent from September to $310,000, according to The Press Democrat monthly housing report compiled by Coldwell Banker manager Rick Laws.
That is the lowest level since February 2009, when the median fell to $305,000 — the record low since prices began their slide more than four years ago. The county reached a record high median price of $619,000 in August of 2005.
Buyers purchased 409 single-family homes here in October, up 5 percent from September and up 28 percent from a year earlier.
But the market has observed divergent trends in different price segments during the first 10 months of the year. Sales of starter homes priced under $300,000 have increased 41 percent over the same period from a year earlier. But sales have dropped 19 percent in what is typically considered the “move-up” segment of $400,000 to $700,000.
Cary Bertolone, co-owner of Bertolone Realty in Santa Rosa, said “the uncertainty of world economies” seems responsible for both sale trends.
At the low end of the market, he said, investors are readily buying homes at bargain prices for rental properties — a relatively safe investment given the strong demand for rental housing.
But plenty of existing homeowners are too nervous to consider buying more expensive homes today. “People are being conservative,” Bertolone said. “They’re trying to stay within their means.”
— Robert Digitale