Monday, May 23, 2005

Solano County March/April Residential Real Estate Report

Standing strong

Real estate sales remain stable as appreciation rates pick up

By Barbara Smith/Business Writer

The real estate market appreciation rate in Solano County is picking up steam, with the median sales price idling at last month's median of $409,000 and with fewer homes selling compared to March.

According to a real estate information service, 944 homes sold in April, a dip from 1,029 in March. Appreciation of residential real property in the Bay Area has surpassed that of Southern California for the first time in four years, according to La Jolla based-DataQuick Information Systems.

Steve and Sue Kappel, brokers and owners of Kappel & Kappel Realtors Inc., said from their perspective sales are still going strong for early spring, but the surge in homebuying should begin this month.

"The prognosis from the experts at the California Association of Realtors is that we're not going to see a decline or leveling off within the next few months," said Sue Kappel. "The interest rates are not significant enough, and the loan programs out there are so flexible."

Meanwhile, Bay Area home prices moved up to another new high last month as sales remained at near-record levels, the result of strong demand and flat mortgage interest rates.
A total of 11,158 new and resale houses and condos were sold in the nine-county region in April. That was down 1.3 percent from 11,310 for the previous month, and down 10.2 percent from 12,421 for April last year, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

Last year's April was the strongest April on record. Last month was the second- strongest. Last month's year-over-year sales decline was the first of this year.

Marshall Prentice, president of DataQuick, said in a prepared release that the firm is watching carefully for any turn in the market.

"Appreciation is pretty even across the different categories, there are really no changes in market mix, purchase and financing profiles are stable. Mortgage rates haven't gone up as they were expected to do, and demand appears to be strong," Prentice said.

The median price paid for a Bay Area home was $586,000, a new record. That was up 3.2 percent from $568,000 in March, and up 19.1 percent from $492,000 for April a year ago.
DataQuick, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, monitors real estate activity nationwide.

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Bay Area buyers committed themselves to paying was $2,659 in April, an all-time high. A year ago it was $2,237.

Indicators of market distress are still largely absent. Foreclosure rates are low, down payment sizes are stable and there have been no significant shifts in market mix, DataQuick reported.

Barbara Smith can be reached at

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