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Sonoma County’s median home price in April jumped above $400,000 for the first time in nearly five years.
The median price of a single-family home last month climbed to $435,500, according to The Press Democrat’s monthly housing report compiled by Pacific Union International Vice President Rick Laws. The price increased 10 percent from March and 26 percent — or a jump of $100,000 — from a year earlier.
Part of the median’s rise is due simply to a shift in the mix of sales, with an increase in transactions among more-affluent neighborhoods. As well, sales of financially distressed properties have fallen to their lowest level in more than four years.
But brokers said home values also are rising as multiple buyers bid on properties and the number of available homes remains at its lowest point in nine years.
“Prices are going up rather dramatically,” Laws said.
Buyers purchased 460 single-family homes in April, an increase of 4 percent from a year ago. Four out of every five sales involve owners with equity — the highest rate in more than four years.
In the last decade, the county’s housing market has twice marked the latest price milestone as a historic bubble brought boom and bust to large numbers of home owners.
The median price first exceeded $400,000 in April 2003. Prices continued to rise and peaked at a record high of $619,000 in August 2005.
In July 2008 the median fell below the mark to $399,000. Prices kept plunging and hit a new low for this real estate cycle of $305,000 in February 2009.
As prices fell, more than 10,000 owners lost homes to foreclosure in the county over the past six years. Another 4,000 relinquished properties through short sales, where the transaction price was less than the debt owed on the mortgage.
Together those properties amounted to roughly three years worth of county home sales.
— Robert Digitale