Home prices in Nevada County are on the rise as Realtors see fewer residential properties for sale, giving hope that 2013 could be a better year in real estate than last year.
“If people want to buy, they need to buy now because prices are going to go upwards,” said Christine Foster, president of the Nevada County Association of Realtors.
Indeed, prices already show an upward trend compared to 2012.
The average price of the 278 homes sold thus far in 2013 has been $283,570, according to the Realtors association’s first-quarter figures.
At this time in 2012, 307 homes had been sold at an average price of $241,936.
“Inventory is very down. There are multiple offers on houses under $300,000,” Foster said.
The median sales price for a California home last quarter was $297,000, up 22.7 percent from a year ago, according to the research firm DataQuick.
“When you have more supply, it keeps prices low. As the supply decreases, prices increase,” Foster said. “That’s a normal market function.”
Additionally, homes that were sold in March 2013 were only on the market for 74 days, compared the 121 homes sold during that month in 2012 that were on the market for more than 100 days, according for the association’s figures.
“You almost have to be prepared to look at it and make an offer,” Foster said.
That trend matches what is being seen statewide, where the unsold inventory for single-family homes was 2.9 months in March, compared to 4.2 months a year earlier.
The increase in demand is fueled, in part, by fewer bank-owned properties in the market, driving down the overall inventory, Foster said.
The number of California homes entering the foreclosure process plunged to a more-than-seven-year low this year. From January to March, 18,567 default notices were recorded by lenders — down 51.4 percent from the previous three months and down 67 percent from the first quarter in 2012, DataQuick said.
Numbers haven’t been that low since 2005’s fourth quarter.
“Foreclosure starts were already trending much lower late last year because of rising home prices, a stronger labor market and the settlement agreement between the government and some lenders,” DataQuick President John Walsh said in a statement. “But it appears last quarter’s drop was especially sharp because of a package of new state foreclosure laws — the Homeowner Bill of Rights — that took effect Jan. 1.”
In Nevada County, Foster said that banks appear to be more willing to negotiate with troubled homeowners rather than go through the process of taking over the home and selling it.
The dip in foreclosure activity appears to be part of a general trend as the U.S. housing market improves.
The number of U.S. homes repossessed by lenders fell 3 percent in March from the previous month and was down 21 percent from a year earlier, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. reported earlier this month.
Evidence that the foreclosure-laden market slouch is on the mend is also seen statewide in the price of homes. The median price for new and existing houses and condominiums surged by $24,000 in March to $313,000, up 24.7 percent from the same period last year, DataQuick said. It was the 13th straight annual gain in statewide home prices.
“What drives our market is when the Bay Area and Southern Cal recovers, then our area trickles in,” Foster said.
DataQuick said the median sales price in the San Francisco Bay Area reached $436,000 in March, up 21.8 percent from a year earlier. The median jumped by $31,000, or 7.7 percent, during March alone.
“There’s been a shift in psychology, where more people worry prices will rise and fewer fear a decline,” said Walsh.
Sales in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area totaled 7,263 homes in March, down 6 percent from a year earlier.
DataQuick said Wednesday the median sales price of $345,500 in Southern California neared a five-year high in March. The figure was up 23.4 percent from a year earlier.
The median rose by nearly $25,000, or 8 percent, during March alone in that region.
Sales in the six-county region totaled 20,581 homes, up 3.1 percent from last year.
“It’s not totally recovered,” Foster said. “In the next three years, we will see more of a recovery, but we are at the foot of it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report. To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
“There’s been a shift in psychology, where more people worry prices will rise and fewer fear a decline.”
— John Walsh,