Pleasanton Weekly

Real Estate - July 29, 2011

Affordability sparks buyer interest in Pleasanton homes

Sales increase as 1st-timers, investors seize lower rates, prices

by Jeb Bing

Alameda County short sale properties continued to attract strong interest during the second quarter of 2011, according to an analysis of MLS data by the research division of Better Homes and Gardens Mason-McDuffie Real Estate.

The firm's Pleasanton office said both investors with cash and homebuyers who were seeking an affordable first home or a bargain-priced property with more amenities strengthened the market in April, May and June.

Nationally, 2,697 existing, single-family homes were sold during the second quarter, up a solid 32% from the 2,037 homes sold during the first quarter, although still 10% short of the 3,013 homes sold in last year's second quarter. The 2010 numbers were larger because buyers in that quarter rushed to complete a home purchase in order to qualify for federal and state tax incentives.

Homes priced consistent with buyer expectations continued to sell quickly, averaging only 46 days on the market from the time of listing to the date of sale, up slightly from 38 days a year ago.

Absent a tax credit to encourage a purchase decision, second-quarter homebuyers instead were motivated by near-record affordability courtesy of low mortgage interest rates and a steady inventory of short sale properties, particularly in the low-to-middle price ranges.

Countywide, the median price of a home sold during the quarter rose 8% from $392,725 in the first quarter to $425,418 but was down 5% from $446,292 in the comparable period of 2010.

Home sales were up on a quarterly basis in Pleasanton and the 13 other communities included in the report, while the median sales price was up in eight of the markets.

Other communities experiencing quarterly improvement in both measures included Alameda, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Fremont, Hayward, Oakland and Piedmont.

Piedmont was the only community to record year-over-year increases in both sales and the median price of homes sold. It also claimed the county's shortest time from listing to receipt of a contracted offer -- 22 days -- as buyers snapped up properties as soon as they were offered for sale.

The high for the second quarter was 59 days in Dublin.

Looking ahead, short sales are expected to continue to account for a large percentage of home sales at least through the end of 2012, when current tax rules governing short sales are set to expire.

"The peak summer housing market should continue to attract renters who discover it is more affordable to buy a home than to rent in some Alameda County communities, and also from investors looking for bargains to 'flip' or maintain as investment properties," said Hilda Furtado, manager of the Better Homes and Gardens Mason-McDuffie office in Fremont.

"Any further softening of prices could urge more buyers to enter the market, assuming they are confident about their job and personal financial status," she added.

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