The Sonoma County real estate market is ending 2014 much as it began the year, with slightly lower sales, higher prices and a marked drop in the number of economically distressed properties that once comprised half of all transactions.

Buyers in November purchased 354 single-family homes, according to The Press Democrat’s monthly housing report compiled by Pacific Union International Vice President Rick Laws. The month’s sales declined nearly 1 percent from a year earlier. Sales to date this year have decreased 7 percent from the same period in 2013.

Last month’s median price came in at $481,250, an increase of nearly 7 percent from a year ago.

While brokers said the market is less frenzied than in 2013, buyers are still making multiple offers on reasonably priced properties, especially those selling below $500,000.

“There’s still way more demand than there is product,” said Laws.

Terriann McGowan, broker/owner at Admirial Asset Management in Rohnert Park, said prices this fall appear to be holding steady.

“I think part of that is the lack of inventory,” she said.

November ended with 1.8 months worth of inventory at the current pace of sales. In contrast, three years ago the county reported a supply of 3.5 months of inventory.

The percent of distressed property sales this year dropped into single digits for the first time since at least 2009, when such data was first compiled. Combined sales of foreclosures and short sales comprise just 7 percent of all completed transactions to date this year. For the first 11 months of 2009, they constituted 56 percent of all sales.

The distressed properties came on the market amidst a historic housing crash. The county’s monthly median price fell from a record $619,000 in August 2005 to $305,000 in February 2009.

— Robert Digitale

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