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County’s pace of rising prices may be slowing

The median home price for all of Nevada County rose to $460,000 for 2005, an increase of nearly 20 percent over the median of $385,000 a year before, according to figures released this week by the national research firm DataQuick Information Systems.

The local figures are in line with price increases in neighboring counties. Median prices rose 20.6 percent in Placer County and 17.7 percent in Sacramento County. Prices rose much faster in several Central Valley counties, including Kern County, where prices rose more than 38 percent to $235,000.

In bellwether San Diego County, however, the median price rose just 8.7 percent, to $500,000.



The rapid rise of housing prices may be slowing in western Nevada County.

“I think there is a subtle softening in the market in the past three or four months,” said Skip Lusk, executive director of the Nevada County Board of Realtors.




“There are more houses today on the market than there were at this time last year,” added Dick Law, an agent with Paul Law Realty in Grass Valley. That means most houses are taking longer to sell, prompting some sellers to bring down their asking prices.

Changes here could be trailing the softening of markets in the Bay Area and Southern California. A “great deal” of buyers in Nevada County come from those areas and tend to be retirees more often than people in the work force, Lusk said.

“Historically, our market depends a great deal on what happens to real estate south of the Tehachapi (Mountains) and in the Bay Area,” Lusk said.

In the nine Bay Area counties, the median price for December 2005 was $609,000. The number of homes sold there dropped 15.5 percent from December 2004 to December 2005, according to DataQuick.

“Demand still seems to be there, but the sense of urgency seems to be a thing of the past,” said DataQuick president Marshall Prentice, based in San Diego.

DataQuick’s figures are for sales recorded for single-family homes and condominiums, both new and resold, for the entire year. The median price is not an average, but rather the midpoint of all prices: Half of all sales are below the median and half are above.

Nevada City saw the biggest jump in prices, from a median of $375,000 in 2004 to $470,000 in 2005, an increase of 25.3 percent.

Nevada City also saw the sharpest month-to-month increase.

The median price there for homes sold in December 2004 was $355,000. In December of 2005, the median rose nearly 48 percent, to $525,000.

Residences for sale in the western part of the county currently range from older two-bedroom, one-bath houses in the low to mid-300,000s to custom estates of more than $1.6 million, according to advertisements placed in The Union.

The statistics should be viewed with caution, Lusk said. They don’t treat separately the unique communities of Lake Wildwood, Lake of the Pines or Alta Sierra. In addition, he said, Truckee’s real estate activity skews the picture for western Nevada County.

To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail trinak@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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