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Housing prices continue to slide

Trina Kleist and Laura Brown

Median house prices in Nevada County continued to slip in April compared to prices a year earlier.

Real estate agents cited the local effects of a national tightening of credit requirements as part of the cause.

The county saw 141 house and condominium sales recorded at the county recorder’s office for the month, with a median price – the exact midpoint of the sales – of $458,000, according to DataQuick Information Systems based in San Diego.

Both the number of houses sold and their median price dropped more than 8 percent compared to April 2006, DataQuick reported this week. The median price a year ago was $500,000.

“Lower end homes are selling more,” especially three-bedroom, two-bath houses in the range of $350,000 to $400,000, Realtor John Gibson with the Lake Wildwood office of Network Real Estate said. “The prices are coming back to reality.”

He attributed the drop in part to buyers waiting to see what happens in the market.

“I have a whole list of people who are waiting for market to settle out,” Gibson said. “They’re hesitant right now because they don’t know if prices will drop.”

Prices also are dropping from a general tightening of credit restrictions and appraisals in the wake of collapses in the high-risk loan market, Gibson said – a position the National Association of Realtors agreed with.

“Speculative behavior, which contributed to abnormal price growth, is now on the decline,” the association said in a press release this week.

Gibson also has seen an increase in foreclosures and sales of houses below what is owed on the property – but that could be good news for some buyers.

“Foreclosures will make affordable houses for people not able to buy on the normal market,” Gibson said.

Elsewhere in California, some counties continued to break new median price records, but at the same time, sales continue to slow to levels not seen in more than a decade.

In the nine Bay Area counties, the median price rose 3 percent to $659,000. In Southern California’s six counties, the median rose 6 percent to $505,000.

Marin County became the first county in the state where the median price passed $1 million, reaching $1.01 million in April, DataQuick reported.

But with tighter credit requirements, sales declined in areas at the lower end of the price range in Southern California, DataQuick reported.

“The falloff in starter home sales has the effect of pushing median prices up a bit, although it’s still somewhat surprising prices haven’t declined more,” DataQuick President Marshall Prentice said.


To contact City Editor Trina Kleist, e-mail trinak@the union.com or call 477-4230. To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail laurab@the union.com or call 477-4231.

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