The median price of homes in the nine-county Bay Area rocketed to a record $402,000 in April, and the number of homes sold jumped 50 percent -- surprising gains in the region's still-lumbering economy. Home buying continues to be driven by low interest rates and a new sensibility that surfaced after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to residential real estate experts. A few industry insiders even suggest the market activity could incite a replay of the home-sales frenzy during the height of the dot-com boom two years ago.
"I'm surprised by the fact that (the median home price) didn't hit the $390, 000s before hitting the $400,000 mark," said John Karevoll, researcher at DataQuick. "But if you look at the rate of increase, it's nothing near the 15 or 20 or 25 percent we saw two or three years ago. This is 6 percent, a normal, sustainable kind of increase."
A total of 3,582 existing single-family homes changed hands in the nine-county region in February, down 8.5 percent from the same time last year, according to the DataQuick report. Their median price was $370,000, a 24.8 percent increase from February 2009.
"The increase in the median reflects just how odd things were a year ago," said Andrew LePage, an analyst with MDA DataQuick, a San Diego research firm. "Over half of the resales (then) were foreclosures, and the less expensive inland counties had an unusually high portion of the sales. With the more expensive counties now contributing more sales, it's easy to post a double-digit increase in the median price. It does not reflect a 20 percent appreciation in the typical home."