Sonoma County’s home sales remained lackluster in April, as agents reported that an ongoing lack of inventory has left many first-time buyers frustrated.
Buyers purchased 356 single-family homes in April, according to The Press Democrat’s monthly housing report compiled by Pacific Union International Vice President Rick Laws. Sales declined 24 percent from a year earlier and remained below the 10-year average for April of 396 transactions.
The county’s median sales price declined nearly 5 percent from March to $468,975. The median remained nearly 8 percent higher than a year earlier.
For the year, sales are at their lowest level since 2008, a period of recession and plunging home prices.
Inventory has been scarce for more than a year and is blamed for fewer sales, multiple offers and a number of frustrated buyers. April ended with roughly a two-month’s supply of available homes at the current sales pace — widely considered a sellers’ market.
Tim Freeman, manager of Coldwell Banker in Santa Rosa, said some first-time buyers are leaving the market after concluding that they can’t purchase a home at today’s prices. He recalled the experience of one of his agents.
“She lost four clients within the last month because they all feel they’re being priced out,” Freeman said.
The county’s median price soared to a record high of $619,000 in August 2005, before tumbling to $305,000 in February 2009.
A year ago, prices jumped amid fierce competition for homes. The median sales price climbed to $435,000 in April 2013 from $365,000 that January.
The current bidding isn’t as intense as a year ago, said Laws, “but we are definitely getting multiple offers, especially in the lower price range.”
For those seeking homes priced under $400,000, Laws said, “I can understand why buyers get very frustrated.”
Check back later for a full report.
– Robert Digitale